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Linking products to a cause or affinity group: does this really make them more attractive to consumers?

Mekonnen, Aster; Harris, Fiona and Laing, Angus (2008). Linking products to a cause or affinity group: does this really make them more attractive to consumers? European Journal of Marketing, 42(1/2) pp. 135–153.

DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/03090560810840943
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Abstract

Purpose – Cause-related and affinity marketing are based on the assumption that linking a commercial organisation's product with a non-profit organisation enhances the product's appeal and provides differentiation from rival offers. The purpose of this paper is to examine the efficacy of this premise.

Design/methodology/approach – In-depth qualitative research was conducted to explore the construction of consumer value in affinity credit cards, followed by large-scale quantitative research to assess the prevalence of the perceptions and behaviour patterns identified.

Findings – Linked products offer a range of individual and group benefits, both functional and symbolic. However, the value placed on these benefit categories varied according to the type of affinity group.

Research limitations/implications – Whilst encompassing a wide range of affinity categories, all of the affinity credit cards were issued by one financial services organisation. Variation is therefore possible between the benefits offered by other financial services organisations operating affinity schemes.

Practical implications – The findings demonstrate the need to identify the value perceived by different groups of consumers of affinity products and to tailor affinity products to the type of affinity organisation with which they are linked.

Originality/value – A key strength is the research's access to card holders from a wide spectrum of affinity categories. This has proved elusive in prior research. The paper challenges the assumption that linking a product to a non-profit organisation enhances its appeal and provides a basis for differentiation. The efficacy of this premise depends on the type of cause or affinity group, with the value placed on benefit categories varying accordingly.

Item Type: Journal Article
Copyright Holders: 2008 Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN: 0309-0566
Keywords: credit cards; cause marketing; consumer behaviour; financial services; promotional methods; relationship marketing
Academic Unit/Department: Open University Business School
Item ID: 27421
Depositing User: Fiona Harris
Date Deposited: 02 Feb 2011 16:20
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2011 16:20
URI: http://oro.open.ac.uk/id/eprint/27421
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