June 2020 (Vol. 60, Issue 2): GENDER AND DIVERSITY
How the Intensity of Cause-Related Marketing Guilt Appeals Influences Consumers: The Roles of Company Motive and Consumer Identification with the Brand
When people are exposed to cause-related ads that use guilt appeals, they actively try to interpret the motives behind the company’s message. As a result, they either accept or resist the persuasion attempt. This study demonstrates that cause-driven ads that are intensely emotional can backfire, creating “suspicion that the company truly might not be committed to the social cause.” Conversely, according to authors Jaywant Singh (University of Southampton), Benedetta Crisafulli (Birkbeck, University of London) and La Toya Quamina (University of Westminster, London), “if the advertisement is low in emotional intensity, guilt appeals lower negative inferences.” It could then act as a “stimulus to foster consumer identification and positive perceptions of corporate image.” (Singh conducted the research when he was at Kingston University London.)
To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study to investigate guilt-appeal intensity in cause-marketing advertising and its effects on corporate image and purchase intentions. From a managerial perspective, the findings,
- “inform decisions on the design of cause-marketing advertisements that can leverage guilt appeals,” and
- demonstrate that “guilt-appeal intensity can produce variations in consumers’ perceptions and behavioral intentions.”
As a result,
- Ad agencies should avoid high-intensity guilt appeals because they “lower positive corporate-image perceptions and, in turn, purchase intentions.”
- Advertisers should also extensively pretest ad copy that conveys a brand’s genuine motives for supporting a social cause.
For researchers, the study advances knowledge on the
- “effectiveness of emotional appeals as persuasion attempts (and)
- psychological processes underlying consumer responses to cause-marketing advertising that uses guilt appeals.”
Read the full article.