Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Business Administration



First Advisor

Scott Vitell

Second Advisor

John P. Bentley

Third Advisor

Victoria Bush

Relational Format



Cause-related marketing is an effective promotional tool that connects with consumers’ emotions and increases sales. Two essays are presented that explore how consumers respond to different marketing tactics. The first essay presents two studies that examine cause-related marketing (CRM) promotions that require consumers’ active participation. Requiring a follow-up behavior has very valuable implications for maximizing marketing expenditures and customer relationship management. Theories related to ethical behavior, like motivated reasoning and defensive denial, are used to explain when and why consumers respond negatively to these effort demands. The first study finds that consumers rationalize not participating in CRM by devaluing the sponsored cause. The second study identifies a tactic marketers can utilize to neutralize consumers’ use of defensive denial. Allowing the consumer to choose the sponsored cause seems to effectively refocus their attention and increases consumers’ threshold for campaign requirements. Implications for nonprofits and marketing managers include a tendency for consumers to be more likely to perceive a firm as ethical and socially responsible when they are alloto choose the specific cause that is supported. The second essay addresses promotions that donate the same product purchased by the consumer, like Tom’s shoes, and creates a connection between the consumer and donation recipient. The identified victim effect is proposed to explain the success of “one for one” style donation programs. Compared to monetary donations, matched product donations lead consumers to feel more empathy for the needy recipients and also to perceive the donation has more impact. Perceptions about the transparency of the donation are also found to be an important driver of the differences between product and monetary differences.


Emphasis: Marketing

Included in

Marketing Commons



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