Every business is subject to factors that affect the firm’s function as a whole. These factors are the ones attributed for the success or even the failure of a business. In the light of this, there are certain ways or techniques that can be considered in order to emerge and continue to be competitive within the market place ( 2000). The marketing concept has been defined as ‘the key to achieving organizational goals’ and the marketing concept rests on ‘market focus, customer orientation, coordinated marketing and profitability’. In a profit making business the firm obviously has to try and achieve this level of customer satisfaction as a way of staying ahead of the competition and making a profit.
Traditionally, marketing has been utilized by the private sector in decisively increasing the capabilities of an organization. Marketing can be considered as one of the most important element underpinning successful business creation ( 1994). Perhaps because of its complex applications, marketing have been defined in a variety of ways ( 1988). The marketing concept was first promulgated in the late 1950’s ( 1990). In the 197s, marketing scholars focused on adapting marketing mind-sets, processes and concepts to wide-range of non-profit enterprises like universities, performing arts organizations and healthcare organizations. In the 1980s and 1990s, however, an increasing number of scholars and practitioners shifted away from this institutional focus toward what might be called program focus.
They recognized that the basic goal of marketing is to influence behavior no matter what the business is ( 1999). In each case, marketer mounts programs to bring about these behaviors. Some programs, like that of United Airlines or the National High Blood Pressure Education Program, are very long term. Others, like many new cereal introductions and some health care interventions, are shorter lived.
This perception that marketing constitutes a proven and potentially very powerful technology for bringing about socially desirable behaviors is the engine motivating the growth of what might be called "the societal marketing movement" over the last 15 years. This movement has established societal marketing as a distinct sub-discipline within the general field of academic marketing. At the same time, it has led to the adoption of the technology by a wide range of private, public, and private-non-profit organizations and institutions.
Primarily, the main goal of this paper is to analyse societal marketing and how different organizations have used such marketing concept as part of the business operation. In this manner, the companies that will be given focus include BHP Billiton, Royal Dutch/Shell, Home Depot, PepsiCo and McDonald.
The Concept of Societal Marketing
Societal marketing is that branch of marketing concerned both with the uses of marketing knowledge, concepts, and techniques to enhance social ends as well as with the social consequences of marketing policies, decisions, and actions. The purview of social marketing is, therefore, broader than that of managerial marketing. It refers to the study of markets and marketing activities within a total social system. Societal marketing emerged because of the convolution of several factors and forces in the marketing environment. These include affluence, technology, communications media, better informed citizens, increased educational opportunities, and social value changes. The latter can be considered as one of the most powerful single influences.
Changes in social values are reflected in new environmental sensitivities--physical and aesthetic, national and international. For example, sensitivities to pollution, consumer protection, and utilization of resources, the welfare of society, human capital, and ecology have been heightened. These represent frontier areas for the marketing discipline. It is noted that the today’s society are being accompanied with higher standard of living. The result is the rise of service-oriented and knowledge-oriented industries and the relative decline of the importance of manufacturing. Greater gaps exist between businesses and consumers ( 1995). Changes are occurring where education is recognized as a generator of wealth. The dissemination of information becomes increasingly important and the role of technology and productivity assumes a different status. In such a society there seems to be a redistribution of power. More power seems to flow to groups such as citizens and consumers. This ultimately shapes the structures of society's institutions, values, and perceptions, as seems to be occurring now. It is shaping and restructuring marketing with one result being the development of societal marketing ( 2000).
The concept of societal marketing adheres to the business ethics which states that the task of an organisation is to identify the needs, wants and interest of its audience and to provide the desired satisfactions more effectively than its rivals in such a manner that preserves or improves the well-being of both the consumers and the society. In addition, such marketing approach calls upon marketers to give emphasis to three important aspects of their marketing policies. These include company profits, consumer wants and satisfaction and public interest.
Traditionally, corporations based their marketing decision solely on immediate company profit calculations and do not consider public interest. Then, they started to realise the significance of satisfying the customers which introduced the concept of marketing. With the driving forces mentioned above, different companies have been able to consider society’s interest as part of their marketing strategy. There are organization which achieved notable sales and profits as well as recognition by implementing and applying the societal marketing concept.
BHP Billiton is known to be one of the world’s premier mining companies, with a business portfolio of best-in class mining and metals operations including aluminium, copper, metallurgical coal and energy, iron ore, ferro-alloys and titanium minerals. In addition, it also has substantial interest in liquefied natural gas, diamonds, oil, nickel and silver. Supported by the management, the company’s commitment in establishing long-term business success on sustainable and responsible corporate strategy is obvious across the whole corporation. Part of the strategy of the company adheres to the notion of societal marketing. In doing so, the company have worked with leading NGOS like WWF and Oxfam. Billiton is considered as an excellent example of how a certain organization can tackle a most challenging issue by establishing global values and standards for the suppliers and employees and rewarding behavior accordingly, while creating long-term relationships with the society which they operation. Such relationships deliver important value to the company and at times life-changing economic and social impacts for poor and often disease ridden societies.
The social marketing strategy of the company started when they formally committed to the UN Global Compact and became an active member of the World Business Council on Sustainable Development. The company is also a founding member of the Global Mining Initiative which gives attention on the role and responsibilities of organisation in sustainable development. The social marketing initiative gives importance to the employees of mining and metal companies. The implementation of the “Guide to Business Conduct” has been able to provide employees with clear direction on doing business, which include issues relevant to conflicts of interest, discrimination, human rights and bribery. The company’s Forum on Corporate Responsibility helps international NGOs and society opinion leaders to discuss and debate important social and environmental matters. The commitment of the company to societal marketing concept can also be seen in their participation in the Corporate Community Leadership Program produced by Oxfam. In 2004, the company contribute a total of $46.5 million to community programs, in cash, in-kind support and management time. In addition, the establishment of the aluminium smelter of Billiton in Mozambique have provided astonishing economic and social influences for the country. Furthermore, the company has also initiated an anti-malaria program together with Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland. The program consists of house-to house insecticide spraying, surveillance and state of the art treatment. And lastly, the company has worked with the Zululan Chamber of Business Foundation, Regional Department of Education for the past nine years and initiated Partnership in Education Network to improve the quality of education in township and rural schools. With their societal marketing strategy, Billiton has gained respect from different companies and has been recognised as the BIG TICK (Awards of Excellence) winner in 2005.
The Royal Dutch/Shell
Another company that adheres to the needs of the society is Shell. One of the programs undertaken by Shell as part of their societal marketing strategy is when it sponsored the Regional Forum on Reinventing Government in the Region of Arab States. Such sponsorship was held in Dubai and was organized by UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the UNDP Programme of Governance in the Arab Region. Such program was in partnership with the Dubai School of Government in the United Arab Emirates. The Dubai forum was one of the several regional events worldwide and a preparatory activity leading up to the 6th Global Forum on reinventing Government held in Seoul, republic of South Korea last May 24-27 2005.
Having been able to realize the importance of this activity to the society, and knowing that such event is related to the philosophy of Shell in promoting sound values and accountability, the management of the company lead by , External Affairs Manager of Shell supported the event. The goal of the company is to meet their objective of having a worldwide commitment to social welfare.
This is just one of the many global events supported by Shell and its group of companies. The Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies has been announced as the joint winner of the best social report category of the inaugural Association of Certified Chartered Accountants and Institute of Social and Ethical Accountability Social Reporting Awards. And the print advertising of the Shell Group's recent 'Profits and Principles' corporate communications campaign has been announced as a winner of Business Week's Awards for Excellence in Corporate Advertising.
Both awards recognise the
important contribution the Shell Group is making in pioneering the way large
corporations report their performance and impact in economic, social and
environmental terms alongside traditional financial reporting. The award winning
1999 report, "People, Planet and Profits" was the second Shell Report, following
the ground-breaking 1998 Shell Report,
"Profits and Principles - does there have to be a choice?" The reports measure the Group's performance against its own set of formal business principles and commitment to sustainable development.
, Head of Shell's Sustainable Development Group said: "Our corporate communications programme is closely linked to our efforts to incorporate sustainable development across all of our activities. And it draws heavily on the work in the Shell Reports. It is gratifying that both our reporting and corporate communications should be recognized by these awards."
The Shell Report 2000 entitled
"How do we stand?" published on 2 May
2000, which contains additional economic information, has been merged with the Group Health, Safety and Environmental (HSE) report to provide a consolidated overview of the Group's activities. The award winning 1999 report and the 2000 report can be seen at
The Home Depot is built on the
principle of creating value for their stockholders while never forgetting our
values. We seek to be
profitable, responsible and balance the needs of our communities. Throughout the company, the associates are challenged with finding ways in which the company provide the best products for their customers; provide the best possible work environment for their associates, have a positive impact on the communities in which they operate, and provide excellent returns for the stockholders. As part of the societal marketing activity of the company, Home Depot had been able to establish The Home Depot Foundation. Through The Home Depot Foundation, our corporate grants and associates' volunteer time, The Home Depot strives to have a positive impact on communities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. We also invite the community into our stores to participate in practical and educational programs that benefit children and adults. The commitment of the company to the environmental sustainability shows through the energy efficient and sustainable products, recycling practices, and business principles.
The company had provided different campaigns in which the proceeds will go for the funding of the contribution for the victims of hurricane Katrina. August 31, 2005, The Home Depot Foundation had donated a total of $1.5million to support the relief and rebuilding efforts of areas which has been devastated by Hurricane Katrina. The Home Depot made a direct donation of $400, 000 to emergency management organizations such as American Red Cross and the Salvation Army for immediate disaster relief and recovery. Such societal marketing activity has been done to help the victims of hurricane Katrina in America.
PepsiCo is one of the largest beverage and food industry in United States. Being able to realize the role that the company plays in the society, the company has joined YMCA of the USA to a five-year alliance totalling $11.6 million to support the YMCS through 2010. Such activity is a part of the societal marketing strategy that the company is practicing in the organization. The agreement has been able to support the YMCA Activate America and the YMCA movement’s innovative public health initiative which aims to make healthy living a reality for Americans. Such societal marketing approach includes program development and marketing initiatives which are produced to strengthen and promote YMCAs as a powerful national resource for healthy living.
This initiative is also a response for the issue of health related problems including obesity, chronic disease and others among Americans. The YMCA along with PepsiCo has had a long standing alliance and with the letter’s evolving and extending pro-health corporate strategy, it was natural for YMCA and PepsiCo to deepen their joint venture around healthy living.
In addition part of the societal marketing strategy to change the image of PepsiCo and helped the American society to live a health life is the commitment to offering the consumers healthier products which is reflected in their 2004 launched of Smart Spot symbols. Such product endorsement is the first of its kind designation that enables the consumer to determine products that contribute to healthier lifestyles.
In addition, through the PepsiCo Foundation Inc some of the profits of PepsiCo are given to different organizations that promoted health and wellness, social diversity and inclusion awareness, environmental protection and employee engagement. In this manner, the society is assured that the loyalty that the customers of PepsiCo give to the company is given back to the society.
McDonald’s has a rich history that started out in 1954. The company was put to the spotlight by . Throughout the years, marketing ideas have poured through and helped the company become one of the most renowned fast food brands globally. The trademark design for the fast food was carefully studied and it came with a happy clown character known as Ronald MacDonald ( 2005). The Big Mac and the Egg Muffin have been some of McDonald’s most innovative products. In terms of marketing, the happy meal approach was also a creative as it entices children to eat at MacDonald’s because of the toys they can get. Today, McDonald’s is also on the Internet bandwagon, providing information to people all over the world with a click of a mouse (, 2005). With this marketing activities it can be said that McDonald has been able to used a unique strategy to gain good reputation in the society.
Aside from these marketing strategies, McDonald is also aware that they have social responsibilities and they can only achieve the needs and interest of the society if they will apply the concept of societal marketing strategy. At McDonald, responsibility means doing their best to do what is right, being able realize the needs of the people and integrating social and environmental priorities into their environment. Part of the marketing strategy of the company is to join in different campaign that promotes educations, sports and health and wellness. The company also provide contributions to education sectors, sponsoring local and regional sporting activities, neighbourhood beautification and others. In addition, the company also helped different organizations to raise funds for victims of calamities and devastations.
For example, in Canada the Ronald McDonald House Charities has been able to help children in need. The charity supports Ronald McDonald Houses within Canada and other registered charities that enhance the physical and emotional quality of life of children with chronic conditions and disabilities and their families. Since the establishment of RMHC, the organization has provided more than $40 million to help children with special needs across Canada.
Societal Marketing Criticisms
Although the concept of social marketing adheres to the needs of the market for more socially responsible industries, this marketing is not exempted for any criticisms. Accordingly, the framework of societal marketing as given by (2000) is regarded as an interplay between what the consumer wants, human welfare of the society and company profit. Such context highlights the identification of needs, wants and interests within target audience and the delivery of quality products or services. Such new win-win solution is considered as a radical departure from the earlier win or loses representation of an imbalanced exchange relationship between the target market and the marketers.
However, this concept of societal marketing is not possible without the support of capable social, political and economic changes. This marketing approach identifies both the short term and long term social welfare issues, but this model is based on the aspect of short-term wants. With this, societal marketing can b criticised in that the marketer should function as a social agent, which does not simply strengthen the value of short-term wants of the target market.
Furthermore, despite the fact that more and more large companies are doing their part to become socially responsible, the concept of societal marketing focus on the not-for profit organisation. This solution does not include the profit making business and by doing so, they are overlooking the particular needs of the private sectors. The unaccepted elevation of societal marketing concepts in the not for profit organisation and its absence in the scene for private or commercial company, poses both a practical and a perceptual impediment to its instrumental practice in the commercial sector,
Another criticism is in terms of the real purpose of the business. Sometimes, there are organisations which include social responsibility in their business profile, but they are not practicing such responsibility. They are just using it to gain attention and do not adhere to the main purpose of the concept of societal marketing.
The main purpose of societal marketing is to adhere to the needs of the company, its target market and the society where they belong. The societal marketing concept also means having social responsibility which is to be accomplished by the company. In return, the company is being benefited on establishing good reputation not only with their stakeholders but to the entire market place. Hence, it is recommended that each and every company should be able to apply and practice societal marketing concept. In doing so, the company must choose who among the members of the society is in need and how they can sustain their needs. The company must also remember that applying societal marketing also means having social responsibility which should be done for the company and the society’s sake.
It can be said that societal marketing have been able to change the way corporations do their business. Nowadays, each company not only focuses on how they will earn profit from customers but also focuses on how they can contribute to the changing needs of their customers and the society as well. The companies that have been analysed above are said to be companies that adhere to the needs of their customers and the society. Through the different approaches that they used to apply the concept of societal marketing, each company has been able to change the society in a positive manner.