Using social-cause marketing techniques — as opposed to sports/entertainment affinity marketing — increases consumers’ perception of brands’ trustworthiness, according to a recent MIT Sloan Management Review article. That said, the research indicates that, when it comes to attributes related to functionality or performance, the type of affinity marketing partner does not sway consumer perception.
The authors use a market-research technique called “conjoint analysis” to help corporate marketers gauge the relative benefits of various types of affinity marketing programs, including sponsorship of social causes, sports or entertainment events. Conjoint analysis involves creating a variety of hypothetical brand profiles that contain combinations of brand attributes; by asking consumers to rank the profiles, researchers can gain insights into how different brand attributes affect consumers’ preferences.
In several experiments, the authors used conjoint analysis to examine how consumers’ responses to a brand of beer, milk or juice would be affected if the brand had a marketing affiliation with a social cause or with a sport or entertainment event. For some of the products studied, affiliations with social causes had more positive effects on consumer rankings than affiliations with sports or entertainment events. However, this was not always true; for example, it was not the case for the milk brands studied, suggesting that the effect of social-cause marketing initiatives may vary by industry.
This research, outlined in detail in the full article, is strong ammunition when you’re trying to close a deal with with corporate marketing folks. Assuming you’re not dealing with the Milk Council, that is. Put it to use and let me know how it works.
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