Donation amount and consumer attitudes in cause-related marketing: Test of a mediated-moderation model
JIANG Ruochen1,2; ZHENG Ling1
(1 School of International Business Administration, Shanghai University of Finance & Economics, Shanghai 200433, China) (2 School of Shanghai Development, Shanghai University of Finance & Economics, Shanghai 200433, China)
Different from the other corporate social responsibilities, cause-related marketing (CRM) links product sales to contribution to the cause. Thus, it is important for marketers to design their CRM campaigns carefully, and then improve consumer attitudes. An increasing number of researchers have examined the positive effect of CRM. This study focused on the impact of donation amount on consumer attitudes, as well as the mediating effect of moral elevation and the boundary condition (product-cause fit). We conducted two experiments to examine whether and how donation amount influences consumer attitudes. Eighty-nine undergraduate students from Xiangtan University participated in Study 1, and were randomly assigned to one of two conditions (low donation amount vs. high donation amount). In Study 2, we had a 2 (donation amount: low vs. high) × 2 (fit: low vs. high) between-subjects design. One hundred and seventy-nine undergraduate students from Xiangtan University participated in Study 2, and were randomly assigned to one of four conditions. In the low- (high-) amount condition, participants were told that “0.1% (5%) of the sales of this product will be donated to the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation (CFPA)”. Participants in the low- (high-) fit condition were told that “CFPA will use the money to help providing school supplies (water purification facilities) to the children in China’s poor areas”. All of the variables were measured by using 5-point Likert scales, including purchase intentions, moral elevation, perceived product-cause fit, and the control variables. All of the Cronbach’s alpha coefficients for the three factors of moral elevation were greater than 0.70. Results revealed that: (1) Donation amount had a significant positive effect on consumer attitudes; (2) moral elevation mediated the relationship between donation amount and consumer attitudes; (3) the positive effect of donation amount on consumer attitudes was greater when product-cause fit was high; (4) the moderating effect of product-cause fit was mediated by enhanced moral elevation. In summary, these findings provide support for our hypotheses, and theoretically enrich and advance the existing literature on the positive effect of CRM through a new underlying mechanism. Based on these findings, marketers should be more aware of the important role of eliciting consumers' moral elevation in the process of designing their CRM campaigns. In addition, product-cause fit is also an important boundary condition for the positive effect of donation amount on consumer attitudes. Thus, marketers should select high-fit causes to improve consumers' attribution of company motive, and then their moral elevation.