Everything We Do, You Do: The Licensing Effect of Prosocial Marketing Messages on Consumer Behavior, Management Science
Do prosocial corporate marketing messages promote consumers’ altruistic behaviors, or do they advance self-interested and self-indulgent actions? To answer this question, the current research investigates the impact of different framings of prosocial marketing messages on consumers’ behaviors and choices more generally. Results from six laboratory studies and a field experiment demonstrate that exposure to messages that praise customers for good deeds can increase subsequent self-interested and self-indulgent behaviors more than messages that publicize a company’s good deeds or thank consumers for their patronage. Our findings demonstrate the possibility that a temporary boost in one’s self-concept drives this observed effect. In addition, the recipient’s level of support for the issue praised for moderates the effect of customer-praise messages on the recipient’s less altruistic behaviors. The paper concludes with a discussion of the theoretical and managerial implications.