Playing for a Good Cause: Investigating Consumer Perceptions of Sport Brands in Cause-Related Marketing Campaigns
Christian, Ronald G
University of Kansas
Health, Sport and Exercise Sciences
Copyright held by the author.
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Drawing from previous research on the Stereotype Content Model (Fiske, Cuddy, & Glick, 2007) the brand processing model (MacInnis & Jaworski, 1989), and brand image transfer (Simonin & Ruth, 1998), the author aimed to advance the study of cause-related marketing (CRM) strategy by (1) investigating brand traits (i.e., perceived warmth, perceived competence) as potential processing elements for consumer brand attitude formation, and (2) analyzing the subsequent impact of the brand attitude formation process on purchase intention. Specifically, this research analyzed how the presence of a charitable cause (St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital) in a CRM promotional offer to purchase NBA-licensed team apparel (Golden State Warriors vs. Phoenix Suns) impacted consumer perception of brand traits (i.e., perceived warmth, perceived competence) for the team, brand attitude toward the team, and purchase intention, while controlling for team identification and perceived value. The main study used an Amazon Mechanical Turk sample (N = 314; age 18-71, M = 36, SD = 11.31; 62% male) and employed a 2 (promotion type: standard vs. CRM) x 2 (team type: successful vs. unsuccessful), experimental design with multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA). Consistent with previous research (Aaker, Vohs, & Mogilner, 2010), the findings suggest that the presence of the charity in the CRM message significantly increased consumers’ warmth brand trait ratings for both the successful (Warriors) and unsuccessful (Suns) teams. Results also indicated consumer ratings for brand attitude were significantly higher for CRM (vs. standard) conditions for both successful and unsuccessful teams. However, for purchase intention (the primary dependent variable), only the successful CRM team condition (Warriors) noted a statistically significant increase. In essence, the CRM offer with the successful team noted a statistically significant increase in purchase intention, suggesting that the increased warmth together with the baseline high competence placed this team into what Aaker and colleagues (2010) refer to as a “golden quadrant” (i.e., high warmth M = 5.65, SD = .96, high competence M = 5.81, SD = .94) of favorable consumer perception, while the unsuccessful team CRM offer fell short (i.e., high warmth M = 5.30, SD = 1.28, low competence M = 4.93, SD = 1.52) of this quadrant. Collectively, the results suggest an “image transfer” effect (Simonin & Ruth, 1998), whereby the positive traits of the charity brand were transmitted to the team brands as part of the consumers’ brand evaluation process (MacInnis & Jaworski, 1989). Although competence significantly increased for the unsuccessful team in the CRM (vs. standard) condition, the ratings were still significantly lower than the successful team CRM condition competence ratings. Subsequently, consumers’ purchase intention ratings did not significantly increase for the unsuccessful team despite being partnered with a charity. The current research contributes to the CRM literature by suggesting brand traits (warmth, competence) play a role in the consumer brand attitude formation process, and in turn, this outcome had a main effect on purchase intention. This research makes a first attempt at examining the effect of CRM messaging on consumer perception while controlling for team identification and perceived value. Practical implications and future research relative to these findings are discussed.
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