The societal marketing concept builds upon the same philosophy as the marketing concept by adding the focus on giving back to the society by offering products or the business practices that will improve society overall.
The marketing concept
As the marketing concept is the basis of the societal marketing concept, it is worthwhile exploring this quickly first. Essentially, the marketing concept states that the strategies and the marketing mix of a company should be built around particular target market and the needs of consumers in that market segment.
While this seems quite obvious to many marketing students, most companies did not take this view initially. Please see the discussion on the different marketing eras to see how marketing thinking has evolved.
With the marketing concept a firm tries to balance its needs profit and growth against the needs of its target market/s – in other words, it should be “win – win" scenario for both the firm and its customers.
The societal marketing concept
An evolution of the marketing concepts is currently taking place. Due to a combination of consumer expectations, increased media attention, consumer lobby groups and some government legislation and industry self-regulation – there has been a move by companies to be more considerate how their actions and products impact society overall.
Therefore, the societal marketing concept is an extension of the marketing concept by adding a third dimension of society. Companies who practice the societal marketing concept would seek to develop their strategies, align their business practices, and consider their product range and strategic partners in consideration of the impact and/or benefit this would have on the broader society and the communities in which it operates.
In recent years we have seen marketing managers more focused on corporate social responsibility, which can be defined as the organization’s obligation to increase its positive effects on society while reducing the negative ones.
By operating within this particular marketing concepts firms tend to take into consideration both social and ethical issues when developing the strategy for the company’s marketing efforts. For it to be effectively followed, these firms must be willing to forego profitability or a market opportunity if it is not consistent with their social goals. This creates a challenge for publicly listed companies that have significant shareholders expectations for growth and profit.
These firms try to achieve a balance between the company’s, their consumer’s and the public interest. As a consequence, the organizations have the opportunity build a positive image by increasing the number of positive associations in the minds of present and potential customers. Socially conscious actions mainly lead to a more positive customer response, or at least avoid negative publicity.
Companies that adopt a societal marketing concept will also try to increase customer loyalty and improve their brand awareness and active engagement with positive media coverage. Therefore, while it is very challenging, this particular approach should be able to generate a “win – win – win" scenario for the company, its consumers and society.