In two laboratory and one pilot field study, we demonstrate that cause marketing, whereby firms link products with a cause and share proceeds with it, reduces charitable giving by consumers, even when it is costless to the consumer to buy on CM (versus not); further, instead of increasing total contribution to the cause, it can decrease it. Consumers appear to realize that participating in cause marketing is inherently more selfish than direct charitable donation, and are less happy if they substitute cause marketing for charitable giving. Our results suggest that egoistic and empathetic altruism may have different effects on happiness.
Krishna, A. (2011). Can supporting a cause decrease donations and happiness? The cause marketing paradox. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 21(3), 338-345.