Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 156, Issue 2, pp 439–454 | Cite as

The Mediating Role of Moral Elevation in Cause-Related Marketing: A Moral Psychological Perspective

  • Ling Zheng
  • Yunxia Zhu
  • Ruochen JiangEmail author
Original Paper


With the high frequency and intensity of worldwide disasters, cause-related marketing campaigns with sudden disasters are becoming increasingly popular. However, little is known about whether and how cause acuteness may influence consumer attitudes. This research aims to extend this research area through investigating the relationship between cause acuteness and consumer attitudes toward the product, as well as its underlying mechanism and boundary conditions. Based on a moral psychology perspective, we propose a theoretical model focusing on the mediating role of moral elevation in influencing consumer attitudes. This model also incorporates product-cause fit and information transparency as moderators underpinning necessary conditions that are likely to lead to positive consumer attitudes. Four empirical studies were conducted to test our model. Our research results reveal that consumers have more positive attitudes toward the product associated with a sudden disaster than with an ongoing tragedy. Furthermore, the positive effect of cause acuteness on consumer attitudes is mediated by enhanced moral elevation, which occurs under the conditions of high product-cause fit and high information transparency.


Cause-related marketing Cause acuteness Moral elevation Consumer attitudes Product-cause fit Information transparency 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dongwu Business SchoolSoochow UniversitySuzhouChina
  2. 2.School of International Business AdministrationShanghai University of Finance and EconomicsShanghaiChina
  3. 3.Business School, Faculty of Business, Economics and LawUniversity of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia
  4. 4.Institute of Shanghai DevelopmentShanghai University of Finance and EconomicsShanghaiChina

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