Business: The Societal Marketing Concept: Chapter 4

The societal marketing concept holds that the organization should determine the needs, wants, and interests of target markets. It should then deliver the desired satisfactions more effectively and efficiently than competitors in a way that maintains or improves the consumer's and the society's well-being. The societal marketing concept is the newest of the five marketing management philosophies. The societal marketing concept questions whether the pure marketing concept is adequate in an age of environmental problems, resource shortages, worldwide economic problems, and neglected social services. It asks if the firm that senses, serves, and satisfies individual wants is always doing what's best for consumers and society in the long run. According to the societal marketing concept, the pure marketing concept overlooks possible conflicts between short-run consumer wants and long-run consumer welfare. Consider the Coca-Cola Company.

 

Most people see it as a highly responsible corporation producing fine soft drinks that satisfy consumer tastes. Yet certain consumer and environmental groups have voiced concerns that Coke has little nutritional value, can harm people's teeth, contains caffeine, and adds to the litter problem with disposable bottles and cans.

Such concerns and conflicts led to the societal marketing concept. As Figure 1,5 shows, the societal marketing concept calls upon marketers to balance three considerations in setting their marketing policies: company profits, consumer wants and society's interests. Originally, most companies based their marketing decisions largely on short-run company profit. Eventually, they began to recognize the long-run importance of satisfying consumer wants, and the marketing concept emerged. Now many companies are beginning to think of society's interests when making their marketing decisions. One such company is the international corporation Johnson & Johnson, which stresses community and environmental responsibility.

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J & J's concern for societal interests is summarized in a company document called 'Our Credo', which stresses honesty, integrity, and putting people before profits. Under this credo. Johnson & Johnson would rather take a big loss than ship a bad batch of one of its products. And the company supports many communities and employee programs that benefit its consumers and workers, and the environment. J & J's chief executive puts it this way: 'If we keep trying to do what's right, at the end of the day we believe the marketplace will reward us.'13 Consider the tragic tampering ease in which eight people died from swallowing cyanide-laced capsules of Tylenol, a Johnson & Johnson brand. Although J & J believed that the pills had been altered in only a few stores, not in the factory, it quickly recalled all of its products. The recall cost the company $240 million in earnings. In the long run, however, the company's swift recall of Tylenol strengthened consumer confidence and loyalty, and Tylenol remains the leading brand of pain reliever in the US market.

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In this and other cases, J & J management has found that doing what's right benefits both consumers and the company. Says the chief executive: The Credo should not be viewed as some kind of social welfare program - it's just plain good business.'1 - 1 Thus over the years, Johnson & Johnson's dedication to consumers and community service has made it one of America's most admired companies, and one of the most profitable. Increasingly, firms also have to meet the expectations of society as a whole. For example, society expects businesses genuinely to uphold basic ethical and environmental standards. Not only should they have ethics and environmental policies, but they must also back these with actions. Consider, for instance, the bad publicity The Body Shop received during the early 1990s when the company came under attack in 1992 over its environmental standards. Some critics who researched the company's ethical and environmental practices charged that the high standards which it claims to uphold might be less genuine than it would like the world to think.

 

The critics also expressed a broader concern - that the company persistently appears to exaggerate its involvement in worthy causes. Such charges cannot be ignored by the company's management, particularly its founder, Anita Roddick, and chairman, Gordon Roddick, who has long been involved in promoting ethical and environmental causes within the business world. Any tarnishing of The Body Shop's image removes the organization's point of differentiation and, therefore, increases its vulnerability to competition.14 As a riposte to the allegations that The Body Shop was not living up to its own standards on issues such as animal testing, the company took the lead in the UK to undertake an ethical auditing exercise. At the beginning of 1996, it published its first Values Report, a massive affair spanning five volumes and over 300 pages of data and feedback from stakeholders - suppliers, customers, employees, shareholders and others representing the public at large - in three mam areas: environment, social policy, and animal protection.

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Societal marketing concept

The idea that the organization should determine the needs, wants, and interests of target markets and deliver the desired satisfactions more effectively and efficiently than competitors in an ay that maintains or improves the consumer's and society's well-being

Marketing Challenges into the Next Century

 Marketing operates within a dynamic global environment. Every decade calls upon marketing managers to think afresh about their marketing objectives and practices. Rapid changes can quickly make yesterday's winning strategies out of date. As management thought-leader Peter Drueker once observed a company's winning formula for the last decade will probably be its undoing in the next decade. What are the marketing challenges as we head into the twenty-first century? Today's companies are wrestling with changing customer values and orientations, increased global competition, environmental decline, economic stagnation, and a host of other economic, political and social problems. In the European Union (EU), as the concept of nationally separate markets vaporizes, competition among sellers will further intensify.

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There is increasing pressure on individual firms within member countries to adjust to evolving deregulation and advancement of universal trading standards within the single market. However, these problems also provide marketing opportunities. We now look more deeply into several key trends and forces that are changing the marketing landscape and challenging marketing strategy: the growth of nonprofit marketing, the information technology boom, rapid globalization, the changing world economy and the call for more socially responsible actions.

Growth of Non-Prof it Marketing

In the past, marketing has been most widely applied in the business sector. In recent years, however, marketing also has become a major component in the strategies of many non-profit organizations, such as colleges, charities, churches, hospitals, museums, performing arts groups, and even police departments. Consider the following examples:

 

 

Faced with the daunting task of selling the single currency to European citizens, many of whom appeared disturbed by the economic sacrifices involved, the European Commission turned to market and media experts to develop a strategy to promote the 'euro', Pan-European advertising campaigns were also launched to reinforce national initiatives to influence public opinion in favor of replacing national currencies.'5 To stem the falling number of church-goers, many of Britain's church groups are seeking more effective ways to attract members and maintain financial support. Increasingly, and despite the controversy, preachers are using the press, television and radio to advertise religion to the general public. They are conducting marketing research to better understand member needs and are redesigning their 'service offerings' accordingly. Some evangelical groups are even starting their own radio and television stations.

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The Vatican has been known to have appointed the advertising agency, Saatchi and Saatchi, to run a £2,5m television campaign."' Over the past decade, many charities have moved on from tin-rattling and tombolas to employing some of the most sophisticated marketing tools, to win support for their causes. For example, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is Europe's largest wildlife conservation charity, dealing with issues as wide-ranging as biodiversity, protection of wildlife sites, and marine life. The charity hired a marketing agency to run an awareness advertising campaign for them, which aimed to take their membership up to one million in 1997. They also tied in the campaign with direct marketing activity. One of the objectives is to reach a younger audience than the RSPB's traditional 55+, the 30-somethings, who get more worried about the environment when they have kids of their own. The campaign used a message that suggested birds are a barometer of the health of the environment.

Many longstanding non-profit organizations - the YMCA, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the Girl Scouts - are striving to modernize their missions and 'products' to attract more members and donors.17 Finally, government agencies have shown an increased interest in marketing. For example, various government agencies are now designing

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