Introduction Nowadays more and more companies around the world consider the necessity to define their roles in society and apply social, ethical and responsible standards to their brand management strategy (Wymer & Sargeant, 2006). Cause related marketing (CRM) represents a brand ethics orientation and it is an important tool for activating relationship between non-profit organization, company and consumers (Kotler & Lee 2005). We define CRM as a strategic partnership between a for-profit brand and a charitable organization that produces a promotional marketing campaign; a specific proportion of the profits earned from sales of a firm’s products or services get donated to the designated charitable cause (Boenigk & Schuchardt, 2013). A growing trend in CRM campaigns involves the luxury brand segment. For example, Bulgari and Save the Children ran a prominent “Rewrite the Future” campaign that raised more than $7.4m for education programs in 2011 thanks to the sales of a dedicated ring. Another well-known is the special edition Sukey bag by Gucci to support UNICEF’s “Schools for Africa” initiative. As these examples suggest, partnering with highly admired luxury brands (Phau & Prendergast, 2000; Ko & Megehee, 2012) offers compelling reasons for the rising popularity of CRM luxury campaigns among charities (Bennett & Ali- Choudhury, 2009). Moreover Hagtvedt and Patrick’s results (2015) show in a retailing context that an association with a charity at the point of sale can increase consumers’ intention to purchase a luxury brand and can facilitate upselling to a luxury store. Although, empirical research on CRM (Brown & Dacin, 1997; Gupta and Pirsch, 2006) lacks to investigate luxury offerings deeply and none of the above-mentioned research has compared a CRM campaign promoted by a luxury brand with the same CRM activity managed by a brand positioned in a different (lower) segment. Hoeffler and Keller (2002) suggest that a co-branding strategy is the most appropriate way to develop CRM activity effective for both brand partners (Michel & Rieunier 2010). Following this suggestion, Baghi and Gabrielli (2013a) investigated the role of brand awareness in co-branded CRM program in shaping consumers’ willingness to buy and to pay for the CRM product. The current study contributes to this debate in several ways. Firstly, we explore the effect of CRM in a luxury versus a non-luxury brand positioning (within the same product category). Secondly, we go further the previous research focused on brand awareness (Baghi & Gabrielli (2013b), and we investigate the influence of the different visual prominence (Han, Nunes & Dreze, 2010) of the for-profit and the non-profit brand on consumers’ responses toward a CRM program. Theoretical background and hypothesis Brand prominence is the extent to which a product has visible markings that help consumers to recognize the brand, in other words it is “the conspicuousness of a brand’s mark or logo on a product” (Han et al., 2010, p. 15). Manufacturers can produce a product with “loud” or conspicuous branding or tone it down to “quiet” or discreet branding. Following Han and colleagues approach (2010) a “loud” brand prominence means that the brand logo is very well showed up on the product while a “quiet” brand prominence entails that the brand is hidden or unobtrusive on the physical appearance of the product. Han et al. (2010) demonstrate that brand prominence plays an important role within luxury context as the consumers seek to display the brand name to others (self expressive function; Cheah, Phau, Chong & Shimul, 2015c; Koschate-Fischer, Stefan & Hoyer, 2012). In the domain of CRM, brand prominence could play a crucial role because the signalling function of the two brand partners is different: the non-profit brand may express the social engagement while the for-profit one may express consumers’ personality traits (Knight & Kim, 2007). The intent is to analyse the influence of brand prominence on consumers’ attitude and behaviours toward a CRM co-branded products in two different positioning: luxury and non-luxury. The ultimate aim of the present study is to verify if in a CRM activity it is advisable that one brand has more prominence than the other one (brand prominence disparity) and eventually which one is important to be the most prominent on the CRM product. Moreover the intent is to consider two different contexts in which the for-profit brand should have different value proposition and meaning: luxury and non-luxury. The hypotheses are the followings: H1 Consumers’ attitude toward the CRM product is different in the presence of brand prominence disparity H2 Consumers’ willingness to buy the CRM product is different in the presence of brand prominence disparity H3 Brand prominence disparity and the brand positioning (luxury vs non-luxury) have an interaction effect on consumers’ attitude toward the CRM product H4 Brand prominence disparity and the brand positioning (luxury vs non-luxury) have an interaction effect on consumers’ willingness to buy the CRM product. Methodology A sample of 150 students of an Italian public university voluntarily participated in the research (59% female, mean age 24). The student sample was appropriate because we present a product that they can frequently buy (chocolate). The participants were randomly assigned to one of six experimental conditions (between-subject design) in a 2 (luxury vs non-luxury) x 3 (brand prominence disparity: for-profit “loud” and non-profit “quiet” vs for-profit “quiet” and non-profit “loud” or “equal” for-profit and non-profit brand prominence) experiment. The product selected for the main study was a chocolate box in a luxury or in a value-for-money (Wiedmann, Hennings & Siebels, 2009) version. A pre-test was conducted to select a luxury (Ladurée), a value (Pernigotti) for-profit brands and a non-profit brand (Save the Children) with similar brand awareness and brand like. Participants were presented with a hypothetical scenario in which they were asked to imagine being in a purchase situation; they were presented with a picture of a co-branded CRM Ladurée (or Pernigotti) chocolate box involved in a Save the Children’s campaign to support children in need in the war zones. It was said that 5% of the sale revenue of the product will be donated to support the campaign. Also the price of the product was indicated and it was in line with the average market price. Participants were asked to rate their attitude toward the CRM product (4 items on a 7-point Likert scale; Voss, Spangenberg & Grohmann, 2003) and to evaluate their intention to buy in terms of the probability to purchase that product in a everyday life shopping situation (2 items on a 7-point Likert scale; Robinson, Irmak & Jayachandran, 2012). As control check of the manipulation, participants were also asked to rate their perception of the visual prominence of the brands (2 items on a 7-point Likert scale Han, et al, 2010); the luxury feature of the for-profit brands (3 items on a 7-point Likert scale Vigneron, & Johnson, 2004) and the brand awareness of the for-profit and non-profit brands involved in the CRM campaign (2 items on a 7-point Likert scale; Aaker 2006). - Insert Table 1- Findings Manipulation checks: All the manipulation check’s results were in line with our expectations in terms of brand prominence, luxury perception and brand awareness. Attitude: ANOVA analysis showed a main effect of the brand prominence disparity on attitude toward the CRM product (for-profit “loud” Mattitude = 5.48 vs non-profit “loud” Mattitude= 4.52 vs equal Mattitude = 5.00; F (1, 149) = 9.38; p < .05). H1 is supported. Results showed also an interaction effect between brand prominence disparity and brand positioning on attitude (F (1, 149) = 6.63; p < .05; see descriptive table 2). H3 is supported. Willingness to buy: ANOVA analysis showed a main effect of the brand prominence disparity on willingness to buy the product (“loud” for-profit brand Mwtb = 4.84 vs “loud” non-profit brand Mwtb = 3.89 vs equal Mwtb = 4.21; F (1, 149) = 2.47; p < .05). H2 is supported. Results showed also an interaction effect between brand prominence disparity and brand positioning on willingness to buy (F (1, 149) = 4.47; p < .05-see descriptive table 2). H4 is supported. - Insert Table 2 - Discussion The present study is devoted to comprehend if consumers’ intention to participate to a CRM, buying a co-branded product, is conditioned by a different prominence of the for-profit or the non-profit brand on the packaging, and which brand is the most important to be visually prominent in a luxury CRM co-branded product in comparison with a non-luxury co-branded product. Results confirm the hypothesis: findings show that a brand prominence discrepancy between the for-profit brand and the non-profit one on the packaging of a CRM co-branded product has a role in defining consumer behaviours. Managerial implications The present findings suggest important managerial implications. First of all marketing practitioners have to consider that, if they want to carry on social causes by their product, they have to carefully manage strategic branding decisions. In particular, if the CRM product is positioned on a luxury segment, the brand that should be more prominent to appease consumer’s attitude and purchase intention is the for-profit one, while in the case of value for money CRM product the different levels of brand prominence seem not to influence consumers’ attitude and intention to buy. Also for non-profit organization a branding strategy seems to become more and more important. The results of this study suggest that the non-profit brand has a weak signalling ability, that is an important evidence for non-profit organization that have rightly taken into consideration the importance to build a strong and meaningful brands. Originality and limitations The study contributes further to research on brand prominence (Han, et al 2010) revealing its potential in promoting responsible consumption decisions. Moreover the present study enlarges the brand prominence analysis to the co-branding strategy adopting a relative concept, highlighting the importance of a different brand prominence between the two brands involved.. Finally, the study is the first investigation of CRM activities within a luxury positioning compared to a non-luxury positioning for the same product category. This study is only a starting point in CRM activities branding comprehension. We investigated only one product: chocolate. Further studies could extend the research field to different product categories and/or to different co-branding strategies.

The role of brand prominence disparity in co-branded cause related marketing programs: Luxury vs non-luxury brand positioning / Baghi, I.; Gabrielli, V.. - (2017). ((Intervento presentato al convegno 12th Global Brand Conference of the Academy of Marketing. tenutosi a School of Business and Economics, Linnaeus University, Kalmar, Sweden nel 26th-28th April..

The role of brand prominence disparity in co-branded cause related marketing programs: Luxury vs non-luxury brand positioning

Baghi I.;Gabrielli V.
2017

Abstract

Introduction Nowadays more and more companies around the world consider the necessity to define their roles in society and apply social, ethical and responsible standards to their brand management strategy (Wymer & Sargeant, 2006). Cause related marketing (CRM) represents a brand ethics orientation and it is an important tool for activating relationship between non-profit organization, company and consumers (Kotler & Lee 2005). We define CRM as a strategic partnership between a for-profit brand and a charitable organization that produces a promotional marketing campaign; a specific proportion of the profits earned from sales of a firm’s products or services get donated to the designated charitable cause (Boenigk & Schuchardt, 2013). A growing trend in CRM campaigns involves the luxury brand segment. For example, Bulgari and Save the Children ran a prominent “Rewrite the Future” campaign that raised more than $7.4m for education programs in 2011 thanks to the sales of a dedicated ring. Another well-known is the special edition Sukey bag by Gucci to support UNICEF’s “Schools for Africa” initiative. As these examples suggest, partnering with highly admired luxury brands (Phau & Prendergast, 2000; Ko & Megehee, 2012) offers compelling reasons for the rising popularity of CRM luxury campaigns among charities (Bennett & Ali- Choudhury, 2009). Moreover Hagtvedt and Patrick’s results (2015) show in a retailing context that an association with a charity at the point of sale can increase consumers’ intention to purchase a luxury brand and can facilitate upselling to a luxury store. Although, empirical research on CRM (Brown & Dacin, 1997; Gupta and Pirsch, 2006) lacks to investigate luxury offerings deeply and none of the above-mentioned research has compared a CRM campaign promoted by a luxury brand with the same CRM activity managed by a brand positioned in a different (lower) segment. Hoeffler and Keller (2002) suggest that a co-branding strategy is the most appropriate way to develop CRM activity effective for both brand partners (Michel & Rieunier 2010). Following this suggestion, Baghi and Gabrielli (2013a) investigated the role of brand awareness in co-branded CRM program in shaping consumers’ willingness to buy and to pay for the CRM product. The current study contributes to this debate in several ways. Firstly, we explore the effect of CRM in a luxury versus a non-luxury brand positioning (within the same product category). Secondly, we go further the previous research focused on brand awareness (Baghi & Gabrielli (2013b), and we investigate the influence of the different visual prominence (Han, Nunes & Dreze, 2010) of the for-profit and the non-profit brand on consumers’ responses toward a CRM program. Theoretical background and hypothesis Brand prominence is the extent to which a product has visible markings that help consumers to recognize the brand, in other words it is “the conspicuousness of a brand’s mark or logo on a product” (Han et al., 2010, p. 15). Manufacturers can produce a product with “loud” or conspicuous branding or tone it down to “quiet” or discreet branding. Following Han and colleagues approach (2010) a “loud” brand prominence means that the brand logo is very well showed up on the product while a “quiet” brand prominence entails that the brand is hidden or unobtrusive on the physical appearance of the product. Han et al. (2010) demonstrate that brand prominence plays an important role within luxury context as the consumers seek to display the brand name to others (self expressive function; Cheah, Phau, Chong & Shimul, 2015c; Koschate-Fischer, Stefan & Hoyer, 2012). In the domain of CRM, brand prominence could play a crucial role because the signalling function of the two brand partners is different: the non-profit brand may express the social engagement while the for-profit one may express consumers’ personality traits (Knight & Kim, 2007). The intent is to analyse the influence of brand prominence on consumers’ attitude and behaviours toward a CRM co-branded products in two different positioning: luxury and non-luxury. The ultimate aim of the present study is to verify if in a CRM activity it is advisable that one brand has more prominence than the other one (brand prominence disparity) and eventually which one is important to be the most prominent on the CRM product. Moreover the intent is to consider two different contexts in which the for-profit brand should have different value proposition and meaning: luxury and non-luxury. The hypotheses are the followings: H1 Consumers’ attitude toward the CRM product is different in the presence of brand prominence disparity H2 Consumers’ willingness to buy the CRM product is different in the presence of brand prominence disparity H3 Brand prominence disparity and the brand positioning (luxury vs non-luxury) have an interaction effect on consumers’ attitude toward the CRM product H4 Brand prominence disparity and the brand positioning (luxury vs non-luxury) have an interaction effect on consumers’ willingness to buy the CRM product. Methodology A sample of 150 students of an Italian public university voluntarily participated in the research (59% female, mean age 24). The student sample was appropriate because we present a product that they can frequently buy (chocolate). The participants were randomly assigned to one of six experimental conditions (between-subject design) in a 2 (luxury vs non-luxury) x 3 (brand prominence disparity: for-profit “loud” and non-profit “quiet” vs for-profit “quiet” and non-profit “loud” or “equal” for-profit and non-profit brand prominence) experiment. The product selected for the main study was a chocolate box in a luxury or in a value-for-money (Wiedmann, Hennings & Siebels, 2009) version. A pre-test was conducted to select a luxury (Ladurée), a value (Pernigotti) for-profit brands and a non-profit brand (Save the Children) with similar brand awareness and brand like. Participants were presented with a hypothetical scenario in which they were asked to imagine being in a purchase situation; they were presented with a picture of a co-branded CRM Ladurée (or Pernigotti) chocolate box involved in a Save the Children’s campaign to support children in need in the war zones. It was said that 5% of the sale revenue of the product will be donated to support the campaign. Also the price of the product was indicated and it was in line with the average market price. Participants were asked to rate their attitude toward the CRM product (4 items on a 7-point Likert scale; Voss, Spangenberg & Grohmann, 2003) and to evaluate their intention to buy in terms of the probability to purchase that product in a everyday life shopping situation (2 items on a 7-point Likert scale; Robinson, Irmak & Jayachandran, 2012). As control check of the manipulation, participants were also asked to rate their perception of the visual prominence of the brands (2 items on a 7-point Likert scale Han, et al, 2010); the luxury feature of the for-profit brands (3 items on a 7-point Likert scale Vigneron, & Johnson, 2004) and the brand awareness of the for-profit and non-profit brands involved in the CRM campaign (2 items on a 7-point Likert scale; Aaker 2006). - Insert Table 1- Findings Manipulation checks: All the manipulation check’s results were in line with our expectations in terms of brand prominence, luxury perception and brand awareness. Attitude: ANOVA analysis showed a main effect of the brand prominence disparity on attitude toward the CRM product (for-profit “loud” Mattitude = 5.48 vs non-profit “loud” Mattitude= 4.52 vs equal Mattitude = 5.00; F (1, 149) = 9.38; p < .05). H1 is supported. Results showed also an interaction effect between brand prominence disparity and brand positioning on attitude (F (1, 149) = 6.63; p < .05; see descriptive table 2). H3 is supported. Willingness to buy: ANOVA analysis showed a main effect of the brand prominence disparity on willingness to buy the product (“loud” for-profit brand Mwtb = 4.84 vs “loud” non-profit brand Mwtb = 3.89 vs equal Mwtb = 4.21; F (1, 149) = 2.47; p < .05). H2 is supported. Results showed also an interaction effect between brand prominence disparity and brand positioning on willingness to buy (F (1, 149) = 4.47; p < .05-see descriptive table 2). H4 is supported. - Insert Table 2 - Discussion The present study is devoted to comprehend if consumers’ intention to participate to a CRM, buying a co-branded product, is conditioned by a different prominence of the for-profit or the non-profit brand on the packaging, and which brand is the most important to be visually prominent in a luxury CRM co-branded product in comparison with a non-luxury co-branded product. Results confirm the hypothesis: findings show that a brand prominence discrepancy between the for-profit brand and the non-profit one on the packaging of a CRM co-branded product has a role in defining consumer behaviours. Managerial implications The present findings suggest important managerial implications. First of all marketing practitioners have to consider that, if they want to carry on social causes by their product, they have to carefully manage strategic branding decisions. In particular, if the CRM product is positioned on a luxury segment, the brand that should be more prominent to appease consumer’s attitude and purchase intention is the for-profit one, while in the case of value for money CRM product the different levels of brand prominence seem not to influence consumers’ attitude and intention to buy. Also for non-profit organization a branding strategy seems to become more and more important. The results of this study suggest that the non-profit brand has a weak signalling ability, that is an important evidence for non-profit organization that have rightly taken into consideration the importance to build a strong and meaningful brands. Originality and limitations The study contributes further to research on brand prominence (Han, et al 2010) revealing its potential in promoting responsible consumption decisions. Moreover the present study enlarges the brand prominence analysis to the co-branding strategy adopting a relative concept, highlighting the importance of a different brand prominence between the two brands involved.. Finally, the study is the first investigation of CRM activities within a luxury positioning compared to a non-luxury positioning for the same product category. This study is only a starting point in CRM activities branding comprehension. We investigated only one product: chocolate. Further studies could extend the research field to different product categories and/or to different co-branding strategies.
12th Global Brand Conference of the Academy of Marketing.
School of Business and Economics, Linnaeus University, Kalmar, Sweden
26th-28th April.
Baghi, I.; Gabrielli, V.
The role of brand prominence disparity in co-branded cause related marketing programs: Luxury vs non-luxury brand positioning / Baghi, I.; Gabrielli, V.. - (2017). ((Intervento presentato al convegno 12th Global Brand Conference of the Academy of Marketing. tenutosi a School of Business and Economics, Linnaeus University, Kalmar, Sweden nel 26th-28th April..
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