If marketers are to devise campaigns and marketing mixes which are intended to influence those consumers who espouse social, political and environmental causes, they need an understanding of the evolutionary life‐cycle pattern of such causes. The five life‐cycle stages of causes are set out, with descriptions of the likely extent of influence of cause‐related marketing strategies, the level of controversy surrounding the cause and the strategic trade‐off at each stage. It is concluded that whilst the support of causes appears to provide marketing opportunities, the marketer must make two crucial decisions. First, a market niche which is likely to embrace the cause must be selected. Second, the strategy employed must be forged to deal significantly with the cause at that specific stage in its life cycle.
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