SOCIETAL MARKETING

Philip Kotler introduced the concept of societal marketing to literature in a 1972s article “What Consumerism Means for Marketers” in the Harvard Business Review.

Societal marketing is an advanced form of CSR (corporate social responsibility) and sustainable marketing. The products under societal marketing consider social, ethical, ecological values and long-term social welfare.

What Is Societal Marketing?

Companies are always questioned on focusing more on customer satisfaction than on the welfare of society. Let us say, many people like cigarettes but those are highly harmful to their health. So, it is the company’s responsibility to warn them of health injuries that will be caused by using these products.

The concept of societal marketing holds that a marketer must make better marketing strategies by considering society’s welfare, company requirements, and customer demand. It takes into consideration the long-term welfare of society.

The 3 Consideration of Societal Marketing

The balance between Human Welfare, Consumer Satisfaction, and Profit is an integral part of a successful brand.

1. SOCIETY (Human Welfare)

The companies ought to ensure that the products, services, investments, and other actions they are involved in do not harm society.

2. CONSUMERS (Want Satisfaction)

The products or services offered by the company have a goal of satisfying consumer wants and needs.

3. COMPANY (Profits)

A socially responsible company creates a long-term relationship with the customers by satisfying their needs and wants. This will help the company achieve targeted profit along with wealth maximization.

For instance, Adidas is one of the top leading sportswear companies in the world. When it comes to the environment, it is committed to manufacturing its products that could be reused repeatedly.

The Body Shop is a natural cosmetic company that uses plant-based ingredients for the manufacturing of its products also it does not test its products on animals.

Looking on the contradictory side, 

In the 1980s one of the biggest fast-food chains KFC, when planned to launch itself in Hong Kong, they made the use of chicken being fed and raised in China. Generally, it is observed that chickens in china are fed fish, hence the taste does not match with that of America’s KFC. The consequences were such that KFC had to shut down its operations and did not open its stores for ten years.

Principles

  • Consumer’s need is first and foremost so long-term relationships can be developed 
  • Innovation and creativity help in achieving long term value 
  • Products having unique features not only serve the consumer’s but also the whole society’s interest.
  • Social Welfare with a vision of trust and honesty 
  • Ethical and Environmental policies backed up by effective check and balance system
  • Amidst competitors, an edge of the better image in society is gained

Instruments

  • Deficient products: This brings neither short term nor long term benefits to consumers. Example – ineffective medicines
  • Pleasing products: It has a prompt satisfaction on consumers but has to harmful effect on society in the long run. Example – junk food and cigarettes
  • Salutary products: These products neither bring satisfaction to consumers nor dissatisfy them but benefit society in the long run. Example – insurance products 
  • Desirable products: Along with long-term benefits, it carries immediate satisfaction to customers. Example – Body shop products; provide short term satisfaction and help society as they are associated with breast cancer foundations.

Societal Marketing was aimed at thrashing the competitors as well as developing social awareness. All these inspire marketers to develop products for the benefit of society besides customer satisfaction and profit. 

Remember, one should not be mixed up with societal marketing and social marketing as they are two different branches of the same tree.

So basically, societal marketing incorporates the concept of social responsibility into commercial marketing strategies. It informs marketers about marketing decisions and societal benefits. 

Whereas social marketing emphasises social issues into commercial marketing strategies by using various tools and techniques, also it informs about marketing discipline and social good.

Criticisms

Societal Marketing has always been a topic of criticism due to various opinions, quintessential of all being who decides what is in the public’s best interests? Marketers might not be the right people to determine the public interest; hence it is advisable that the customers should decide what is good for them or any of their representatives to convey that to the industry. The moral agenda in the societal marketing concept is underdeveloped and often sheer. Experts have argued that societal marketing is not a distinct concept, but rather it is a mere extension of the marketing concept. 

In the upcoming era, societal marketing is seeking marketers as well as consumer attention resulting in high expectations for continuously evolving practice. Aiming to provide a win-win situation to companies, consumers, and society, anticipating consumer reaction is challenging especially when it is affected by various factors. With a vision of consumers to win, captivating benefits must be provided that increase their overall welfare and loyalty. The scarcity of research in this field is highly observed with increasing global popularity. Therefore, triggering interrogative questions concerning its impact on consumer attitudes towards their buying behaviour, brand choice and positive impact on society is vital.

In modern times where brands want to outperform their competitors, they ought to have societal marketing for a long-run benefit. 

Content: Vishruti Kanani

Editor: Nishikant Patil

Graphics: Avinav Kumar

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