Predicting Consumers' Cause-Brand Alliance Attitude and Purchase Intention: The Influence of Cause Involvement, Message Source, Perceived Motivations, and Cause-Brand Fit
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Companies have increasingly been engaging in cause-brand alliances to enhance brand image and increase sales. But, consumers’ reactions to such campaigns can be difficult to predict. The purpose of this study was to create a model that explains the relationships between factors that have been shown to influence consumers’ reactions to cause-brand alliances, including cause involvement, message source, cause-brand fit, and perceived brand motivations, and the impact that these factors have on cause-brand alliance attitude and purchase intention together in a conceptual model. The fit of the model and the strength and direction of the 11 hypothesized relationships were tested in an experimental approach using a series of mock press releases as stimuli and a national sampling of 742 college students. Hypothesis testing results indicated that cause-band alliance attitude was more favorable when perceived brand motivations were more altruistic and more profit-based, and that cause-brand fit influenced consumers’ perceptions of altruistic brand motivations but not profit-based motivations, suggesting that consumers understand that brands may have both kinds of motivations for engaging in cause-brand alliances. The influence of cause-brand fit on cause-brand alliance attitude was mediated by perceived altruistic brand motivations, indicating that if a brand partners with a low-fitting cause, cause-brand alliance attitude is not directly harmed but consumers may perceive less altruistic brand motivations, which could lead to less favorable cause-brand alliance attitude. Marketers do not need to focus on the source of the cause-brand alliance message, as consumers are not influenced by message source when forming attitudes toward the alliance. A more favorable cause-brand alliance attitude resulted in a greater intention to purchase the product associated with the alliance, emphasizing the importance for marketers to create cause-brand alliances that are favorably viewed by consumers. During further analysis, subjective perceptions of cause involvement exerted a positive effect on cause-brand alliance attitude, indicating that brands will want to partner with causes that their target consumers feel is relevant to their lives. Implications for these findings and suggestions for further research are introduced.
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