How Marketing can Save the Planet
Marketing has changed a lot since the term was coined around 1884. The depth and science that is now applied in the field has made the field very ambiguous. My friend teases me about my marketing degree, saying that I only learned how to manipulate people and make a good PowerPoint. If this is true, can we become more than that?
Because the channels of communication are so extensive today, the American Marketing Association has to revisit the definition of ‘Marketing’ every 5 years. The current definition states:
“Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”
I particularly like the part about marketing’s intention to create value for society at large. Even though marketing hasn’t had the most ethical past, we are now entering into the ‘Age of Transparency’ for consumerism. As a result, marketers are steering towards a new set of consumer values to adhere to. Corporate Social Responsibility has become a major factor to many consumers and marketers are taking careful note of how this is changing purchasing habits.
As a marketer, I hope to see the entire field become focused on what society needs rather than just the what the individual consumer wants. Our main focus should be to persuade consumers that using their moral code when making a purchase, will result in greater benefits for everyone.
How Marketing can Contribute to Society
Good marketing practice offers value to both the consumer and society. But what should be a priority if the consumer wants something that is contrary to benefiting society?
In Seth Godin’s blog, he makes the statement that “just because you (the marketer) can market something doesn’t mean you should. You’ve got the power, so you’re responsible, regardless of what your boss tells you to do.” Marketing is evolving from being a persuader and manipulator to an informer and educator. Marketing works for society “when the marketer and consumer are both aware of what’s happening and are both satisfied with the ultimate outcome.”
Whether they like it or not, marketers lives have been turned upside down. Marketing used to be the Evil Empire but because of social media and Google, unethical practices are much easier to spot. If you lie in a marketing campaign, the internet will figure it out.
No one could have predicted the amount of influence social media has on our attitude and behavior, which then has a direct role on our purchasing habits. As millennials, we have been able to experience, learn, and become adapted to social media since its birth. When our brains were going through the most malleable stages in life, so were our social media sites (I’m starting to have flashbacks from my first Myspace page).
By having this intimate relationship with social media, millennials also realize how powerful it can be in changing our perceptions and beliefs. Social justice and protecting our environment are now very important issues for a majority of us because of the way that it was presented on the internet.
So How can Marketing Save the Day?
Marketers can help sway consumers away from the detrimental pattern of overconsumption. Through marketing efforts, I was informed about what eating meat does to our planet. After being enlightened, I was easily able to do my own research and quickly change my stance. It was that simple. I am now a vegetarian because the animal agriculture industry is the leading contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, their water use is 50% higher than all domestic water use in the world, the number one cause of species extinction, and causes 91% of the Amazon jungle deforestation. But it wasn’t only these statistics that convinced me, it was the marketing tactics.
I engage politically and try my best to be a conscious consumer but more importantly, I’m willing to market myself. The only way to change people’s perspective is to show them that there is a better way to live for yourself and the people around you.
As a marketer, I have faith that we can change as a society. We as humans have evolved many times and don’t think we’re going to stop anytime soon. Marketing will be the key resource for spreading and conveying the factual information that will ultimately change us for the better. Transparency and integrity will not only be fundamental principles for marketing, it will be the ally that helps us lift through the darkness of ignorance.
Originally published on LinkedIn on November 22, 2017.