In this article, the authors argue that in the wake of a major disaster, it is not only appropriate but also beneficial for governments to spend public funds to support official gratitude campaigns in response to outside assistance. These assertions are based on results of multiple studies on gratitude from both psychology and marketing that show that expressions of gratitude can offer both economic and social marketing benefits. Evidence demonstrates increased consumer willingness to purchase products produced in the devastated area and intentions to continue prosocial support through volunteerism and financial donations after receiving expressions of gratitude. Evidence also shows that public expressions of gratitude encourage those who did not participate in prior relief/recovery activities to do so in the future. As such, the authors recommend the implementation of a disaster management policy that encourages and rewards private and public groups to partner in similar campaigns. Such a policy leads to both economic and social rewards for the devastated areas and its citizens—and, importantly, the broader society—that outweigh and outlast the expense of the campaign. Specifically, these benefits save those directly affected by a disaster from having to bear the full burden of disaster recovery and rebuilding efforts and could increase the amount of outside economic and social assistance provided.

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Copyright © 2011 American Marketing Association. This article first appeared in Journal of Public Policy & Marketing 30:2 (2011), 168-174.

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