Making more of your cause related marketing: Developing a strategic, integrated approach

Anna Katrine Lautrop Stolfer

Student thesis: Master thesis


Based on an extensive literature review of the concept of Cause Related Marketing (CRM) and preliminary research with a multinational company operating in Denmark, the need for a more strategic and consumer oriented approach to CRM was identified. This thesis examines how Danish companies can develop and utilise strategic and sustainable CRM to optimise both consumer and company benefits. The thesis takes a dual perspective and tries to answer the main research question by answering three sub-questions from both a consumer and a company perspective: What CRM is; how to engage in it; and why to do so. Qualitative empirical data was collected according to the Means-End Chain theory in order to reveal consumers’ motivations for engaging in CRM. It was found that consumers engage themselves in CRM to obtain one or more of eight different values. The values are either internally oriented and related to the consumer’s own gain, identity and appearance or externally oriented and related to the cause, society and its norms. Further, a clear distinction can be made between CRM positive and CRM negative consumers. It is suggested that companies should focus on the CRM positive consumers in their CRM efforts as negative consumers are opposed to the very core of CRM, the combination of charity and consumption. Further, it was found that consumers are very focused on corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a necessary fundament for CRM. CRM without CSR provided little value to the consumers, and companies are not recommended to pursue this approach. Additionally, consumers also value the company’s honesty and integrity highly, and it can be determining for CRM success. Seen from a company perspective, CRM can provide several benefits, e.g. increased sales, stronger brand, motivation and attraction of employees, and enhanced corporate image and clout. Furthermore, this thesis proposes a strategic choice of CRM cause, so the success of the cause will contribute to the success of the company and thereby reinforce the benefits for both parties. Finally, the thesis operationalises the integrated and strategic approach to CRM, it suggests. Based on the framework of Smith and Colgate (2007), it is suggested that companies should support the consumer’s value creation in relation to CRM. This can be done trough e.g. information, the actual product, and the purchasing and consumption environment. The approach suggests that different types of consumer values require different types of support. The thesis concludes that CRM can provide both companies and consumers with great benefits. It is, however, crucial for companies to approach the concept in a holistic and integrated manner to achieve strategic, sustainable gains.

EducationsMSc in Business, Language and Culture, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2008
Number of pages251