Building brand equity is a key objective for a range of communication activities; however, greater understanding is required on how different communication options compare in their impact on consumer response to a brand. In particular, firms are increasingly using cause-related marketing (CRM) to achieve business as well as social objectives, yet there has been limited research comparing the effectiveness of this strategy to other communication methods that may achieve similar brand-related outcomes. Using an experimental design, we examine consumer attitudes toward CRM and CRM's impact on brand attitude compared with two other communication options: sponsorship and sales promotion. Our results show that consumers respond more positively to CRM and that this strategy can be more effective in achieving brand-related objectives. However, consumers must perceive that the partnered cause fits with the brand. In fact, perception of fit plays a more critical role in determining the impact of CRM than in the impact of sponsorship or sales promotion. These findings suggest that when firms are considering their communication mix, CRM can be a more effective way of developing favorable brand associations, but magers must associate with causes that consumers will perceive to fit with the brand. Furthermore, this fit should be communicated.
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