Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science

, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 234–251 | Cite as

Cause marketing and customer profitability

  • Michel Ballings
  • Heath McCullough
  • Neeraj BharadwajEmail author
Original Empirical Research


This research marks the first attempt to investigate the cause marketing–customer profitability relationship, and to assess whether features can moderate the influence of cause marketing (CM) on customer profitability for a focal brand and its main rival. We obtain a panel dataset on 7257 customers to evaluate the Yoplait–Susan G. Komen partnership. On a propensity score matched sample, we estimate a multilevel model and find that Yoplait’s CM initiative positively influences Yoplait’s customer profitability (2.70%), along with a deleterious effect on Dannon’s customer profitability (−13.31%). These findings are theoretically meaningful and pragmatically useful as they: (1) provide behavioral evidence of CM’s profit impact, (2) establish CM as an “offensive” strategy that cultivates the rival’s customers, (3) suggest features can amplify the effect of CM on the focal brand’s customer profitability, and (4) support that managers can add CM to their strategic marketing arsenal as an instrument to strengthen brand equity.


Brand equity cause marketing marketing strategy multilevel modeling propensity score matching 



We would like to express our appreciation to the three referees, the Area Editor, and the Editor for their detailed and helpful comments, which led to substantial improvement of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Academy of Marketing Science 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Business Analytics and Statistics, James A. Haslam II College of BusinessUniversity of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management, James A. Haslam II College of BusinessUniversity of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA

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