Societal Marketing Concept

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The societal marketing concept is one of the five major marketing concepts. It differs greatly from social media marketing. It is a combination of two principles: the welfare of society and the needs of consumers. 

The idea is for a large organization to market its products as being beneficial to society as a whole, and thus shows some social responsibility on the organization’s part.  Here is an example to help shed some light on what societal marketing is:

The Body Shop is the number one in the cosmetic industry that is successful in marketing their efforts to fight against animal cruelty, environmental issues, human rights, and other issues. Although it might be cheaper for them to manufacture their products using the same materials and packaging as their peers, they are holding themselves responsible for the welfare of their customers and others in society.

This gives consumers a better perception of The Body Shop, thus driving up their sales. In this scenario, the customer, society, and the organization are all winners. The situation can be considered a win for all parties involved. 

Definition of Societal Marketing Concept

In the 1970s, as consumerism was on the rise, businesses competed with each other fiercely. Organizations rarely considered ethics or morals in their business practices. Some businesses decided to market themselves as the socially responsible choice among competitors. They created a favorable image for themselves by showcasing the ways their business was operating under practices that were “for the greater good”.

By developing a brand image of a socially responsible company that takes care of the welfare of society and the needs of its customers, the company generates revenue by directing more traffic towards them from concerned consumers. For example, consumers wishing to reduce their carbon footprint, are more likely to visit an electric car showroom. 

Thus came about the Societal Marketing Concept. It can be defined as a concept upon which a marketing strategy is devised to emphasize a business’ efforts to put the needs and well-being of a society. By exercising their social responsibility, a business can attract consumers that share the same concerns. 

A Balanced Marketing Strategy

Societal Marketing Concept requires that a business balance between three factors when devising a marketing strategy:

  • Interests of the people – that is, the welfare of people in a broad sense. This is the most important factor to consider, as it is the basis of what concerns humankind as a whole; things such as climate change, wars, marine biodiversity, etc. It can also be the concern of a smaller society of people, which becomes the target market.
  • The Needs of Consumers – note that this is not the same as their wants or desires, but rather the necessities for a better quality of life.
  • Financial Gain – no business’ marketing strategy is considered successful if it does not manage to turn it into a profit. The primary goal of a business is to generate profit, but in this strategy, they might choose to incur a small loss in hopes of driving more future revenue.  

When devising a marketing strategy based on the societal marketing concept, a business must keep in mind that it is a delicate balance between what the consumer wants and what is best for society. 

Societal concerns can include (but are not limited to) environmental, social, cultural concerns, and many more. Consumers these days are basing their purchasing decisions on the societal responsibility of businesses. This means that successful societal marketing leads to loyal customers that believe they are making the right choice, and believe they have the ability to solve great issues starting with their purchasing behavior. 

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