An Overview Of Societal Marketing Marketing Essay

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The notion of societal marketing implies that an organization exists not only to satisfy customer wants but also to preserve or enhance individuals’ and society’s long-term best interests. (Lamb, 1997 Page 9). This concept holds that the organization should determine the needs, wants and interests of target markets and deliver the desired satisfaction more effectively and efficiently than competitors in a way that maintains or improves the customer’s and society’s well-being.(Kotler, 2006, Page 22).

According to Kotler (2006, p 15-16), the societal marketing concept represents the highest level of evolution in marketing philosophies. This philosophy evolved from earlier hierarchal philosophies of product, production, selling and marketing. Kotler (1972, 1977b, 2006) suggests that the societal marketing concept encapsulates a more enlightened marketing philosophy which attempts to harmonize the goals of business to the occasionally conflicting goals of society. The concept of societal marketing is based upon a vital proposition that wants of the consumers do not always concur with their or society’s long-run interests. Therefore, marketers should place the importance on long-run consumer and societal well being (Kotler, 1977b). Consequently, the societal marketing concept endorses and justifies the social responsibility of business in the society and refutes Friedman’s notorious statement that “the social responsibility of business is to make a profit” (Friedman, 1962).

The concept of societal marketing was catalyzed by the consumerism movements of later half of 20th century (Winsor, 1999). For the first seven decades of the 20th century, marketing was purely considered a business activity and it was almost unimaginable that marketing could be regarded as anything but a business activity until late 60’s. Lazer (1969, P3) sparked the foundation of a new marketing concept by stating that marketing must not only serve business but also the goals of the society and that the contribution of the marketing extends beyond the formal boundaries of the firm. He served the view that marketers cannot be forgetful of individuals and societal norms. This contribution of Lazer was subservient in flourishing the boundaries of marketing from the sole objective of profitability to include intrinsic values of concern for society and the development of people. The work of Kotler and Levy (1969a) led to the broadening of the whole concept of marketing. They asserted that marketing was a pervasive societal activity and suggested that there are great opportunities for marketing people to apply their skills to wide range of social activity. Besides, the wave of consumerism in later half of the 20th century had virtually nullified all the previous marketing concepts. Barksdale and Darden (1971) found out in a survey that a significant circle of scholars and managers believed that the rise in consumerism was an expression of the deficiency of the prevalent marketing concepts. This failure of the marketing concept then sparked the consumerism to became the basis for a revised marketing concept which Kotler (1972) propounded as the replacement to the failed marketing concepts. Therefore, the “societal marketing concept” was apparently founded upon the leftovers of its predecessors. This is how the concept of societal marketing evolved in the later half of 20th century and progressed into 21st century.

In 21st century, most organizations are becoming progressively interested about handling societal issues in marketing to provide benefits to all the stakeholders in the society, including organization, customer as well as society (McAlister & Ferrell, 2002; Waddell, 2002;) and there is an increasing trend towards the concept of societal marketing and green consumerism among marketing departments of various organizations (Prothero, 1990). Today customers do not merely choose a product based on product and quality, rather they are keener in brand power and companies that are concerned about society and environment have an impact in customer purchase decision (Fellman, 1999).

Societal marketing has grown in popularity and usage within various aspects of society and specific social causes could benefit from societal marketing such as public health, pollution control, mass transit, private education, drug abuse. (Andreasen, 1995; Grier & Byrant, 2005; Kotler & Zaltman, 1971; Ling, Franklin, Lindsteadt, & Gearon, 1992; Siegel & Doner, 1998). Various industry surveys conducted over the years have shown positive influence of societal marketing on consumer perception and corporate image (Cone Inc., 2002; Cone Inc., 2008a; Cone Inc., 2008b; Jayne, 2001). It has been found out that given price and quality are same, 75% of consumers exhibit willingness to leave the brands currently under their use and choose to rather buy products from brands that support a charitable cause (Lorge, 1998). In another study, 80% of the consumers favored companies that endorse a charitable cause while 86% were of the view that they would rather switch and purchase a product that supports a cause given that price and quality were equal. Moreover, it has been stated that organizations adopting the societal marketing concept are likely to be more profitable in the long run apart from being beneficial to society as a whole (Abratt & Sacks, 1988). Companies that support charity and show concern regarding social issues invoke a better image on the market resulting in a better repute and higher sales (Mason, 1993).

Societal marketing offers tremendous opportunities for organizations as well as the society. Several studies indicate that there exist ample market segments that are ready to switch brands for the right cause at the right price. Besides this, there also exist segments that are prepared to switch brands without caring about price and quality. Therefore, it can be stated that corporate image related to promotion of public good and specific causes can wield strong effect on customer behavior (Barone, Miyazaki, & Taylor, 2000; Bloom, Hoeffler, Keller, & Meza, 2006; Hoek & Gendall, 2008).

Cause-related marketing is highly implicated in the concept of societal marketing in which organizations extend specific amount of contribution to a certain cause when customers undertake revenue generating exchanges that meet organizational as well as individual objectives (Andreasen, 1996). Therefore, it is reckoned as a variant of societal marketing concept (Kotler, 2000) and implies connecting company’s product or service to a relevant social cause for the mutual benefit of the organization and society (Pringle & Thompson, 1999). There have been various reported business cases indicating that societal marketing lead to remarkable increase in the revenues and position of organizations (Adkins, 1999; Balabanis, Hugh, & Lyall, 1998; Kotler, 2000). Cause-related marketing implies emotional and rational involvement of consumers (Bloom et al., 2006) which renders societal marketing advantageous for the company (Andreasen, 1996; Kotler, 2000).

Another concept closely related to the concept of societal marketing is that of corporate social responsibility which includes corporate social actions whose purpose is to satisfy social needs (Brønn & Vrioni, 2001; Moir, 2001). Realizing corporate social responsibility and undertaking cause related marketing is a tool for increasing customer loyalty and building reputation (Brønn & Vrioni, 2001). The change in corporate image attributed to cause-related marketing campaigns appears to depend a great deal on how customers perceive the reasons for company’s involvement in cause related programs and the amount of help given to the cause through a company’s involvement (Webb & Mohr, 1998).

The concept of societal marketing and corporate social responsibility is relatively new as discussed above. Existing literature on the subject and observations indicate that this concept is not a common practice in Pakistan and a number of firms have started using this approach only recently. It has been noted that the concept of social responsibility as exhibit in the West is clearly nascent in Pakistan (Ahmad, 2006; Lund-Thomsen, 2004).

However, there are external pressures driving the acceptance of societal marketing values and practices in the country and therefore there is recent evidence of substantial corporate socially responsible activity in Pakistan both in the corporate sector. The concern for employee welfare, health, and the environment has been found for Pakistan (Ahmad, 2006). Some of the leading companies in Pakistan practicing societal marketing and corporate social responsibility are Fauji Group, English Biscuit Manufacturers, Barclays, Procter & Gamble, Hinopak, ICI Pakistan, Indus Motor Company, Mobilink, PTC, Shell and TetraPak.

Despite the enormous growth of societal marketing practices and related concepts across the world, empirical research is still scarce in this subject (Berger, Cunningham, & Koziets, 1999), particularly in Pakistan.


The rationale and justification behind this research is that although a significant body of knowledge on societal marketing and corporate image exists, there is very little research on the concept of societal marketing in Pakistan. There are various questions particularly concerning the influence of societal marketing on consumer perceptions of corporate image and their purchase intention and behavior in the context of Pakistan which needs to be investigated through empirical research. Having reviewed the relevant literature, it may be propounded that this is the first research study on the influence of societal marketing on consumer perception of corporate image in the context of Pakistan. Besides, there has been a gap in the literature regarding impact of societal marketing with respect to demography – this study will also attempt to disclose the influence of societal marketing efforts on young consumers.

Apart from contributions to the theory, this research study will attempt to make practical share to the knowledge of societal marketing for the practitioners of this concept. This research will provide empirical information to marketers so that they take informed decision while applying societal marketing to distinguish themselves from competitors. Organizations may apply the findings to run successful societal marketing campaigns.


To inquire into the research problem, the specific objectives this study is designed to address are:

To understand the extent and nature of societal marketing programs in Pakistan.

To estimate the effectiveness of societal marketing campaign of an organization working in Pakistan.

To develop a framework for finding impact of societal marketing on attitudes of young consumers regarding corporate image.

To have better understanding of demographic factors (gender, age, education level) that influence consumer attitudes toward corporate image.

Kotler, Philip; Brown, Linden; Adam Stewart and Armstrong, Gary (2001), “Marketing Creating Value”, Marketing, 5th Edition, Chapter 1. Prentice Hall Publisher.

Brown and Dacin (1997) find evidence to support the contention that a firm regarded as socially responsible will have a more favourable corporate evaluation from customers.

Fellman, M. (1999). Cause marketing takes a strategic turn. Marketing News 33(9), 4.

, Joseph F. Hair, Carl McDaniel

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Cengage Learning, 2007 – Business & Economics – 671 pages

Marketing for Hospitality and Tourism, 4th Edition

By Philip Kotler, John T. Bowen, James C. Makens

ISBN-10: 0-13-119378-3

ISBN-13: 978-0-13-119378-9

Published by Prentice Hall

© 2006

Pub. Date: Jun 29, 2008

Format: Cloth

Lorge, S., & Brewer, G. (1998). Is cause-related marketing worth it? Sales & Marketing Management 150(6), 72.

Cone Inc. (2004). 2004 Cone Corporate Citizenship Study. Retrieved March 28, 2007 from

Kotler, Philip; Brown, Linden; Adam Stewart and Armstrong, Gary (2001), “Marketing Creating Value”, Marketing, 5th Edition, Chapter 1. Prentice Hall Publisher.

Robert Winsor, “Social Responsibility, Consumerism, and the Marketing Concept.”

Social responsibility, consumerism, and the marketing concept

RD Winsor – Southwestern Marketing Association, 1999

Ahmad, S. J. (2006). From principles to practice: Exploring corporate social responsibility in Pakistan. Journal of Corporate Citizenship, 24, 115-129.

Lund-Thomsen, P. (2004). Towards a critical framework on corporate social and environ-mental responsibility in the South: The case of Pakistan Development, 47(3), 106-113.

· ^ William Lazer, “Marketing’s Changing Social Relationships,” Journal of Marketing, Vol. 33 (January 1969), pp. 3-9

· ^ Philip Kotler and Sidney J. Levy, “Broadening the Concept of Marketing,” Journal of Marketing, Vol. 33 (January 1969), pp. 10-15