Marketing’s Role

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This report makes a stand that the role of marketing today, is more than encouraging consumption. Marketing has evolved over the years from being just a discipline that focusses on products that meet the consumers needs, to focussing on rather sensitive yet important areas like Green or Environmental Marketing, Enviropreneurial and Sustainable marketing. These socially responsible objectives of marketing concern themselves with how to involve the target audience in the company's process in a more desirable fashion. A company's marketing objective should ideally revolve around meeting the consumers' immediate gratification as well as being beneficial in the long term. The growth and evolution of marketing depends on the growth and evolution of the cognitive process of the human mind. We as a society have grown from being highly flambuoyant to being responsibly ambitious. The practice of marketing also, has kept its pace with the times by employing a multi pronged approach to reaching a consumer. These days, it is not only about 'selling selling selling' but also about a multitude of other factors that bring the company closer to the hearts of people.

Role of Marketing was to increase consumption -1969

The aim or role of marketing in the year 1969 was to increase consumption in a profitable way. The nation was treated as the land of plenty and resources were abundant. The economic future of the country was predicted to be better than the one that already existed and the growth of the economy was measured in terms of consumption. Thus, obtaining a higher level of consumption was the goal of many economic development theorists. Optimism of a brighter future was a key reason for increasing consumer desires. The techniques of marketing were confined to the 4P's of marketing namely Product, Place, Price and Promotion and thus were product and consumer centred, for example, product planning, product development, sales promotion, pricing practices, advertising and personal selling campaigns. Marketers emphasized on market research to fulfil the desires of the consumers. Primary or secondary data was collected and qualitative or quantitative research was done in accordance to the nature and type of product that was going to be introduced.

The role of Social Marketing in the late 1960's was very narrow and primarily focussed on developing people to the fullest extent of their capabilities. This was done by encouraging consumer expenditure-to develop them socially and intellectually. Thus increasing consumer wants and needs were a result of increasing societal awareness. One of the major challenges that marketers faced was to change the consumption philosophy, given the abundance of resources together with the age of automation and mass production, where consumers had to accept the life of comfort and indulgence to be a moral and ethical one without treating it as a sin.

Evolution of Marketing - Since the 1960's

Consumer behaviour and preferences have changed from the late sixties and so have marketing priorities and techniques. Resources like oil and minerals that were once seemed abundant are now rapidly depleting without any alternatives being developed. Marketing that once concentrated on consumption, has evolved over the past forty years from a function of just selling to creating brand image, promoting sustainable consumption and managing consumption. Marketing that functioned in accordance to the stakeholders' interest now functions with respect to the interest of the society and the interest of the consumer by not only creating awareness but also building on the consciousness of the consumer to a more sustainable lifestyle.

Marketing and Consumer Behaviour and Consciousness

With the threat of global warming and the rise in other social and environmental problems, the consumer-citizen concept (Page 3 of Socially conscious consumer) has surfaced, where the consumers' sensitivity to the products they buy has risen. Consumers make rational decisions and responsible purchases that give them the best utility. Consumers today are willing to try environmentally friendly products at premium prices, for example pollution reducing gasoline, use of hybrid cars etc. Marketing does create an awareness of the product by communicating the benefits of the product but that is as far as it goes. The motivation to buy the product lies in the consumer's mindset. They base their decisions in accordance to their level of needs/desires. This can be explained with the help of the Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs pyramid.

Maslow's hierarchy of Needs illustrates the five levels of human needs. The most basic are physiological and safety needs. As one moves to higher levels of the pyramid, the need becomes more complex.

Thus needs/desires drive consumption. Marketing is a tool to promote choice within products. For example a consumer has a choice between buying the Apple Mac or the HP Pavilion depending on what suits his/her requirement. The final choice of selection of a product is determined by Technical (reliability, durability, performance, style), Social (Fashion, Convention, social belonging), Economic (Price, Running Costs, Residual Value, Lifestyle costs) and Personal (Morals, Emotions, Self image) factors.

Marketing and objectives of Marketing Management

Marketing is viewed as a critical business function that operates in an evolving and continuously changing environment. Apart from following ethical business practices (Marketers have the obligation to be forthcoming with regard to the quality of the products they advertise, not to mention issuing statutory warnings about ill effects of certain kind of products such as pharmaceuticals, alcohol and tobacco), marketers have the inherent responsibility of being socially responsible for their actions that affect the consumer and the society as a whole. Marketing does not end with the process of buying and selling; its responsibilities extend well beyond the realm of profit and delve into aspects such as Social Marketing, Sustainable Marketing, Green Marketing or Environmental Marketing and Public Purpose Marketing. Companies use socially responsible marketing as a tool of potential differentiation and competitive advantage. Companies make marketing decisions by considering consumers and societies' long term interest for sustainable growth. Social and environmental performance has become the key product or service in many markets.

Marketing is as broad and big as you want it to be, thus confining it to one element of its function defeats the very existence of its being. Marketing's role from a social responsible perspective is gaining importance compared to what it was in the 1960's. Below are a few ways in which marketing plays an important role in the upliftment of the society and country as a whole.

Green Marketing

The emergence of Green Marketing or Environmental Marketing in the late 1980's formed the foundation to the basic awareness of the ill effects of Global Climatic change. The main aim of this type of Ecological Marketing was to harness the consumer to lead a more responsible lifestyle, by exposing them to the concept of Green Consumerism. Green Marketing not only helps persuade consumers to buy more environmentally sound products (organic food, biodegradable products, and recyclable products) but also exposes them to dispose them off responsibly. For example there has been a reduction in the buying of Sports Utility Vehicles, as Environmentalists market the automobile as being 'Gas Guzzlers' hence making them increasingly environmentally conscious. The "clean city programme" is an initiative taken up by Environmentalists, where they use marketing to create civic sense among the people to either plant a sapling, conserve water and energy, clean their surroundings, use public transport or to encourage the concept of car pooling.

Social Reporting

Many organizations are applying marketing techniques to improve their image and efficiency by publishing their Social reports in addition to their normal financial reports, to demonstrate their commitment towards addressing social and environmental issues and most importantly sustainability. By using this technique of marketing through the publishing of reports, a company not only builds its brand image but also works towards being a responsible organization. For Example, in 1992, British Airways was the first airline company to report its environmental performance, thus earning the title of being the world's most responsible airline. The airline was the first, to offer the Carbon offsetting Scheme in 2005, which won the government's approval in March 2009, under which a part of the customer air travel ticket, gets donated to projects that are aimed towards projects that work toward environmentally friendly innovations. This scheme induces a sense of responsibility in the mind passengers and prospective customers.

Social Marketing

Marketing has evolved through the development of many sub specialities such as service marketing, tourism marketing, arts marketing etc. all of which guide the consumer or tries to shift the consumers' decision making in favour of the product that is marketed. There has been an emergence of a new technique known as 'Social Marketing', which applies marketing techniques to the awareness of socially beneficial causes and ideas. Social Marketing takes the 4 P's of Commercial Marketing (Product, Place, Price and Promotion) and replaces them with a new mix (Proposition, Accessibility, Costs of involvement and Social communication) to appeal more effectively to a wider range of social objectives and implement social change.

This type of marketing plays an important role in promoting anti consumption. This type of Social Marketing is aimed to change the overall consumption behaviour in order to increase the betterment of the consumers and society as a whole. Campaigns involve the de-marketing of certain products or behaviour like the anti tobacco, anti alcohol and drug consumption or promoting products or behaviour like encouraging concepts of recycling, reuse and reduce, conservation of water and energy, family planning , increased child nutrition etc. Many retailers are now using marketing communications to influence consumer behaviour, for example a "Retail Forum" has been formed by the European Commission and a number of the UK's leading retailers to drive the consumer towards a more sustainable consumption.

Service Marketing

Marketing of certain services such as Micro finance plays a key role in improving the living conditions of millions of people around the world, by creating awareness and thus empowering them indirectly to become economically reliant by providing financial services in a sustainable manner.

Marketing helps by promoting the institution's goals for the betterment of the society. Non Governmental Organizations like CRY, UNICEF are investing in marketing to create awareness among people on social issues like child marriage, drug abuse and spread of HIV etc.


The statement made by Lazer in 1969 was relevant only in that period. The increase in overall consumption was due to the economic boom, high levels of investment, government's focus to improve technology where people had access to plenty and the purchasing power was at an all time high. Marketing was used as a tool to accelerate growth by increasing consumption which was then a measure of economic growth. But do we want to consume like we did in 1969? Have we thought of the repercussions of over consumption yet? Do we still want to live a life of ignorance? Marketing helps us in addressing these problems at the time of crisis like global warming and rapid depletion of resources by encouraging and guiding the consumer to leading a life of sustainable and responsible consumption. It guides businesses to be more socially responsible and use the techniques of marketing in an ethical and moral way.


  • materialism and consumer
  • social mktg, an approach to planned social change
  • social reportin
  • the mktg of social causes-the first 100 years
  • the role of mktg actions with social dimension :appeals to the institutional environmental
  • social reporting Importance and Role of Sustainable Marketing
  • -retailer and sustconsump
  • Micro finance
  • UN
  • clean bangalore