Marketing with Impure Altruism: When and Why Second Language Use Helps Cause-Related Marketing

Project: Research project

Project Details


Cause-related marketing (CRM) is a common marketing strategy that ties fundraising for a cause to purchases of a firm’s products. It can benefit the causes, the firms, and consumers. However, consumers often approach CRM with skepticism and scrutiny, which can lead to less favorable consumer reactions that also dampen firms’ enthusiasm for CRM. We propose that such consumer skepticism and scrutiny stem from their perceptions of impure altruism, such that egoistic, firmserving motives seemingly infiltrates the altruistic, cause-serving motives for CRM campaigns. The salience of these incompatible motives then may evoke negative evaluations of the campaigns and the firms running them.

To alleviate the unfavorable perceptions of impure altruism, we propose a theoretically grounded, managerially practical strategy: Present CRM messages to target audiences in their second (rather than native) languages. Second language (L2) use can prompt positivity biases and leave people more tolerant of moral wrongdoing than native language (L1), as established by behavioral and neuroscience research. Accordingly, we predict it also might reduce consumers’ perceptions of
impure altruism and facilitate more favorable attitudes toward CRM campaigns, as well as higher purchase intentions.

Two preliminary studies align with these predictions. We seek to undertake five more studies to explore the main effect of language use in CRM, together with four moderators regarding campaign features (i.e., promotion coupling, nature of the prescribed behaviors), beneficiary type (i.e., specific recipient or charity organization), and company features (i.e., company–offer fit). Through these efforts we hope to contribute to CRM and language literature, within the broader consumer behavior domain.
Effective start/end date1/01/2430/06/26


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