Towards a greater understanding of consumer cynicism in the context of cause-related marketing

Zhang, HC 2017, Towards a greater understanding of consumer cynicism in the context of cause-related marketing , PhD thesis, Business School.

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Many studies have acknowledged the importance of cause-related marketing (CRM) (e.g. Steckstor, 2011; Guerreiro et al., 2016) and increasing consumer cynicism about it (e.g. Johansen, 2016). Although the topic of consumer cynicism has attracted increasing attention in contemporary research (Andersen and Johansen, 2016), an extensive review of the literature conducted for this study revealed that such studies remain on conceptual grounds (e.g. Odou and Pechpeyrou, 2011) or focus on general consumer cynicism in the marketplace (e.g. Chylinski and Chu, 2010; Helm et al., 2015; Ketron, 2016). Despite consumer cynicism being a major challenge to CRM practices (Andersen and Johansen, 2016), previous research calls for additional studies specifically relating to cynicism within a CRM context (e.g. Paek and Nelson, 2009; Chang, 2011; Hawkins, 2012). Therefore, this research aims to fill this gap in the literature.

To fulfil the research aim, this study takes the philosophical position of post-positivism by applying a 2 × 2 factorial (sudden disaster versus ongoing cause and high versus low brand-cause fit) quasi-experimental design. Two focus groups were conducted to obtain relevant information to design a self-administrated questionnaire. Students were used to satisfy the requirements of an experimental design for a homogeneous sample. Out of the 420 questionnaires collected, 408 were considered to be usable for the final analysis.

Attribution Theory and the TPB were used as theoretical frameworks on which to base this research. The findings add two new dimensions to theoretical knowledge in understanding consumer cynicism in a CRM context, namely, consumers’ perceptions of company motive and protest behaviour. Protest behaviour was found to be positively related to consumer cynicism in the ongoing cause groups. This finding is consistent with Attribution Theory’s suggestion that individuals are more supportive to victims affected by sudden disaster (Ellen et al., 2000; Chochinov, 2005). Attribution Theory was applied to identify the link between consumers’ perceptions of company motives, consumer cynicism and protest behaviour. Following Fiske and Taylor (1991) quasi-experimental stimuli/scenarios (high versus low brand-cause fit and ongoing cause versus sudden disaster cause) the same technique was used for this study in order to explore how individuals make causal attributions about firms’ CRM practices. Consumer cynicism was also investigated in TPB model by using indirect questioning technique. The findings of this application indicated that consumers make different causal attributions about companies’ involvement in CRM practices when they are exposed to different information sources. Consumer cynicism was investigated in TPB model by using indirect questioning technique. In addition, the findings indicated that cynical consumers have some volitional control of intention to purchase CRM products. Despite having cynicism, the increasing self-efficacy and subjective norm play an influencing role in predicting intention. This is an important contribution to knowledge both theoretically and in terms of possible intervention strategies aiming to reduce cynicism level.

This research not only demonstrates the feasibility of applying Attribution Theory and TPB to understand consumer cynicism in the context of CRM, but also identifies an interesting connection between these two theories. Future studies can incorporate consumers’ perception of company motives from Attribution Theory into TPB to explore the possibility of gaining a stronger understanding of consumer cynicism in the context of CRM. A new theoretical model was suggested for a possible application in future studies.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Schools: Schools > Salford Business School
Funders: University of Salford
Depositing User: H Zhang
Date Deposited: 26 Feb 2018 12:07
Last Modified: 26 Feb 2018 12:07

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