Academic journal article Sport Marketing Quarterly

Cause-Related Marketing: The Role of Team Identification in Consumer Choice of Team Licensed Products

Academic journal article Sport Marketing Quarterly

Cause-Related Marketing: The Role of Team Identification in Consumer Choice of Team Licensed Products

Article excerpt


Many studies have demonstrated that cause-related marketing (CRM) can impact consumer choice, but its impact can depend on many factors. In this study, we examined the role that team identification can play in the relationship between CRM and consumer choice of team-licensed products. A discrete choice experiment with 119 college students indicates that CRM influenced consumer choices of team-licensed products. Participants preferred team-licensed products that support a cause with a broad appeal. However, this preference was mostly evident among those participants with a low identification with a team. Those participants highly identified with a team seemed to be mostly driven by their sole desire to purchase a product from their team regardless of the support to the cause. These results suggest that social causes exert more influence and provide an extra reason to buy team-licensed products when motivation to buy is low.


Over the past decades, cause-related marketing (CRM) has been considered as one of the most promising communication tools in the United States (IEG, 2009). Recent estimates projected corporate spending in cause-related initiatives to reach $1.51 billion in 2009 (IEG, 2009). Following the cause-related marketing literature, CRM refers to initiatives where firms contribute a specified amount to a cause contingent upon the consumer buying the company's product (Varandarajan & Menon, 1988). This type of marketing initiative is to be distinguished from sponsorship of causes, where the contribution to a cause does not depend on the consumers' purchases (Cornwell & Coote, 2005).

Many studies have demonstrated that the impact of CRM on consumer choice can be influenced by many factors (Barone, Miyazaki, & Taylor, 2000; Bloom, Hoeffler, Keller, & Meza, 2006; Pracejus & Olsen, 2004; Strahilevitz & Myers, 1998). One factor is the degree of perceived fit between the firm contributing to a cause and its beneficiary. Higher degrees of perceived fit between the firm and the beneficiary can aid consumers' information processing and have been shown to have a positive impact on consumer choice (Pracejus & Olsen, 2004). Another factor of influence is the trade-offs that individuals are willing to make when making a purchase that would benefit a cause (Barone et al., 2000). The degree to which consumers are willing to make trade-offs may depend on how large the tradeoffs are and how the brand engaging in CRM compares to other brands on other features that are also important to the purchase decision (Barone et al., 2000). In addition, the way consumers evaluate firms' motivations to engage in CRM, whether they are socially or profit-motivated, can influence how much value they assign to a "socially responsible" feature of a brand (Barone et al, 2000). Furthermore, the product category, whether more frivolous or more practical, can influence whether individuals would choose to make a contribution to a charity or obtaining price discounts through purchases (Strahilevitz & Myers, 1998).

The way individuals identify with organizations may also play an important role in explaining consumer choice and the success of a cause-related marketing initiative. Bloom et al. (2006) have shown that the degree of affinity individuals have with different types of brand affiliations (e.g., sport teams, social causes, events, and arts) can impact the importance individuals assign to the affiliation itself as an attribute of the brand. Using conjoint analysis, they have observed that when an affiliation is perceived as too "commercial," like professional sport teams, individuals were more likely to consider the affiliation as unimportant or negative to the brand. This was observed even when a condition of high-fit affiliation (e.g., between a beer brand and a sport team) was examined. Both a high-fit commercial affiliation (e.g., beer and sport team) and a low-fit commercial affiliation (e. …

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