Sheinin, Daniel

Advisor Department





cause-related marketing, message framing, strategic fit, branding, strategic partnerships, marketing


Over the past few years, cause-related marketing has become a prevalent aspect of brand building in many businesses. Cause-related marketing (CRM) can be defined as “a strategic positioning and marketing tool which links a company or brand to a relevant social cause or issue, for mutual benefit” (Pringle & Thompson, 1999, pg.1). The key word in this definition is “strategic” because a brand must think strategically about which cause they want to associate with their brand in order to differentiate their brand and be relevant to consumers. In today’s world, consumers want to have a connection and feel confident in the brands and products that they purchase. Consumers want to think that the brands they purchase uphold the same values that they themselves do. Therefore, many brands are partnering with relevant causes to create mutually beneficial relationships with nonprofit organizations. Both the firms and the nonprofits benefit from these partnerships in various ways. Firms have a chance to elevate and expand their brand images through links with causes, while the donations that are made to the causes are mostly based on consumer behavior and perception of the brand.

Though a consumer’s decision to participate in cause-related marketing campaigns may depend on several factors, this study will focus on the consumer’s level of involvement with the cause, the framing of the CRM message, and the level of brand-cause strategic fit. In this study, involvement will correlate with the consumer’s connection to the cause. In other words, cause involvement is “the degree to which consumers find the cause to be personally relevant to them” (Grau & Folse, 2007, pg. 20). Basic theories that only consider the consumer’s involvement, highlight how consumers are more likely to participate in a cause that they believe to be highly relevant to them. Another variable that this study will explore is the framing of the CRM message. Message framing is referred to as “the manner in which the information within the CRM campaign is framed” (Grau & Folse, 2007, pg.25). According to framing theory, displaying messages as gains versus losses can result in different outcomes of consumer behavior.

This study will explore how the level of cause involvement, message framing, and brand-cause strategic fit impact the consumer’s brand attitudes and purchase intentions. According to prior research, the relationship between negative or positive message framing seems to depend on a consumer’s level of involvement with the cause. In this study, the interactions between level of involvement, message framing, and brand-cause fit are to be examined by developing and distributing a well-designed survey using resources and tools from Qualtrics and Amazon Mechanical Turk. In the survey, the variables of message framing and brand-cause fit are to be manipulated in hopes of finding a causality between these variables and brand attitudes. However, the variable pertaining to the level of involvement will be measured in this survey. After the surveys are completed, the data will be scrutinized and analyzed through various statistical techniques using the software SPSS. Through the use of previous and primary research, the variables of brand attitude, attachment, credibility, and purchase intention are to be critically analyzed to explore the interactions between involvement, message framing, and brand-cause fit in a cause-related marketing context.