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CAUSE-RELATED MARKETING IN ASIA AND AMERICA

Carrie La Ferle, Southern Methodist University


Steven M. Edwards, Southern Methodist University
Abstract
Attitudes toward cause related marketing (CRM) campaigns were examined. Specifically,
perceptions of company motive, the type of company sponsoring the campaign (national vs.
multinational), and the location of the cause supported (national vs. international) were all
examined by respondents in the United States and Singapore. Perceived company motive
regarding CRM campaigns were found to have the greatest impact on consumer reactions.
Introduction
Consumers in the United States are growing more socially aware and in the process demanding
that corporations be better citizens (Cone, Feldman, and DaSilva 2003; Zogby 2008). Causerelated marketing (CRM) is one such response by marketers to this phenomena (Barnes and
Fitzgibbon 1991; Youn and Kim 2008). According to Cui, Trent, Sullivan and Matiru (2003),
CRM refers to a general alliance between businesses and non-profit causes that provide
resources and funding to address social issues and business marketing objectives. The UK too
has seen a proliferation of cause-related marketing tactics (Royd-Taylor 2007) and research has
recently been undertaken in Thailand to assess the corporate benefits of undertaking such a
technique (Chattananon, Lawley, Supparerkchaisakul, and Leelayouthayothin 2008). But much
of what is known about cause-related marketing has been based on Western countries and in
particular the United States (Landreth Grau and Garretson Folse 2007; Nan and Heo 2007;
Varandarajan and Menon 1988; Youn and Kim 2008). Yet, with world economies blending and
the growing importance of the Asian region (Cateora 2005), it is critical to assess how these
practices may play out in Eastern countries.
The current study therefore set out to compare the attitudes of consumers in a Western nation
with a more individualist oriented culture to those of consumers in an Eastern culture with more
collectivist tendencies. Beyond cultural orientation, perceived company motives, donation
proximity (Grau and Folse 2007; Varadarajan and Menon 1988) and what we are calling
company proximity (company origin) were also assessed. The following three research questions
were used to guide the study:
1) How do Singaporean consumers respond to CRM campaigns in comparison to
American consumers?
2) Are there differences in how Singaporean and American consumers react to CRM
campaigns based on the location of the cause being supported (National or
International)?
3) Are there differences in how Singaporean and American consumers react to CRM
campaigns based on the companys origin (National or International) and does
perceived motivation of the company for partnering in a CRM impact the process?

Method
The study used a 2 (Nationality: American vs. Singaporean) X 2 (Company: National vs.
Multinational Corporation) X 2 (Location of Cause: National vs. International) factorial design.
Respondents (N=275) were drawn from students attending universities in the U.S. and Singapore
and randomly assigned to one of four different (company by location of cause) conditions. Each
subject was given an informed consent and provided a brief description about a fictitious
company (Voray Corporation).
Voray was described as either a multinational corporation or a national company (Singaporean
for Singaporeans or American for Americans). Vorays products were described as personal care
products (e.g. soaps, shampoos, and deodorants). The information about Voray also included a
paragraph about a new marketing campaign that would donate two percent of Vorays sales to a
fictitious charity (Kids Charitable Foundation) for a five month period. Finally, participants were
given information about the Kids Charitable Foundation and its mission as a non-profit
organization to improve educational opportunities and facilities for children. The manipulation of
the location of the supported cause occurred by specifying that the foundation had a local focus
(Singaporean children for the Singaporean sample or American children for the American
sample) or an international focus (children throughout the world).
Participants were then asked to examine an advertisement which reinforced the information they
were previously given. After viewing the ad, participants were asked to fill out a questionnaire
assessing their attitudes toward the companys offer, the advertisement, the company image, and
perceptions of the corporations motives for supporting the charity. Demographic characteristics
and manipulation checks were then assessed.
Results and Discussion
To examine our hypotheses we ran four separate ANOVAs examining the independent variables
(company type, cause type, and nationality) on attitude toward the ad, attitude toward the offer,
company image, and company altruism. We did not find differences between the geographic
conditions as hypothesized and the nationality differences we found were actually opposite of
what we proposed. While we found differences in the attitudes toward the offer, the ad, and the
image of the company by nationality, Americans were actually more positive toward the CRM
campaign than were Singaporeans. Americans were also more likely to rate the companys
motivation for the CRM campaign as more altruistic than Singaporeans.
In fact it appears that perceived company motivation (altruism) was the most critical factor in
determining attitudes toward the CRM offer. Altruism was impacted by the experimental
conditions as we found a significant three-way interaction. Americans reported American
companies giving to global charities as most altruistic, whereas Singaporeans rated global
companies giving to global charities as most altruistic. More research on why perceptions of
altruism varied by country is warranted so that companies operating globally can make tactical
CRM decisions regarding cause selection.

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