Building consumer communal relationships through cause-related marketing: From the perspective of persuasion knowledge

Baobao Song, Weiting Tao, Taylor Jing Wen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study investigates the value of cause-related marketing (CRM) campaigns in consumer relationship management. Specifically, following the tenets of persuasion knowledge model and equity theory, this study proposes that the effect of consumers' inferences of companies' manipulative intent (IMI) in CRM campaigns on consumer–brand communal relationships is contingent on consumers' knowledge about the degree to which the companies and the social cause benefit from the campaigns. A panel of 506 U.S. consumers was recruited to complete an online survey. Results reveal that when consumers believe that nonprofit partners benefit more from a CRM campaign than the company does, IMI positively affects consumer–brand communal relationships. However, when consumers perceive greater corporate benefits than social benefits, IMI negatively affects consumer–brand communal relationships. These results present a convincing case that in order to cultivate a long-term communal relationship with consumers, companies should promote their CRM programs by highlighting these programs' social benefits and impact. If such programs are considered to yield more corporate benefits, companies should make efforts to mitigate the negative impact that IMI may bring to consumer–brand communal relationships. This study also advances our existing understanding of communal relationships and CRM by unveiling how CRM-related factors collectively influence corporate building of a long-term communal relationship with consumers. We hope to inspire future researchers who are interested in bridging CRM and communal relationship literature to inform effective CRM practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Consumer Behaviour
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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