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When selling good karma goes bad

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Washington : A new research has examined how consumers’ beliefs about karma influence their responses to charitable appeals in advertising.

The study by researchers from the University of California, Riverside and the University of Louisville showed that people who believe in karma, despite seeing the positive benefits of doing good deeds, do not always respond favorably.

The results suggest advertisers and marketers should consider customers’ karmic beliefs when seeking to incentivize pro-social behaviors.

It would seem likely that people who believe in karma, as compared to those who do not, should be more influenced by charitable appeals to engage in acts of kindness, which would in turn stand them in good stead for karmic rewards.

“These results challenge a common myth among marketers that consumers can be prompted to engage in charitable behaviors if they themselves benefit for doing the good deed, such as receiving awards or prizes. In essence, this commonly used marketing tool may not be effective in people with strong karmic beliefs,” author Thomas Kramer said.

When asked to donate money, there were no differences in responses among people who believed in karma and those who did not, even when the focus of the charitable appeal was on helping others.

Kramer said the finding was interesting, because it could be argued that donating money helps people in need, and therefore should be rewarded with good karma in a similar way to a donation of time.

“This may be because monetary donations do not represent the same level of personal effort and sacrifice as time donations, which interferes with the consumer’s ability to make the social connections that would make them deserving of good karma” noted Kramer.

Kramer said professionals in non-profit marketing, as well as companies that form partnerships with charities for marketing purposes, should consider these findings as they develop campaigns that aim to incentivize pro-social behaviors.

“Ultimately, the likelihood that people with karmic beliefs will respond positively to a charitable appeal rests on whether they perceive the action as something that they can be legitimately rewarded for,” he said.

The study will appear in the Journal of Consumer Research. (ANI)

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