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What is Social Impact Marketing?
What is Social Impact Marketing?
Social impact marketing is a strategy where businesses play an active role in the community, above and beyond their core mission as a business. In social impact marketing, a company/brand actively advocates for change, or to advance a specific cause. At this point, the brand functions as a member of society and not just as a provider of products and services.
Social impact marketing is linked to the idea of corporate social responsibility. Simply put, before a company can credibly work for change, it must first embrace its principles in its whole business. For example, a popular denim brand promotes recycling their denim after prolonged use. This is done to inspire the consumers to not throw away their used denims and cut down on environmental waste. The company itself claims to use 60% less water to manufacture their products, reiterating their commitment towards preserving natural resources.
Marketing’s Impact on Individual Consumers
Consumers have concerns on whether the marketing system serves their interests at all. Many surveys show that consumers usually have a mixed attitude toward the marketing practices because of certain reasons.
Perception of Price Inflation
There is an increasingly growing perception that marketing is responsible for the inflated price that consumers pay for certain products, whereas in ideal circumstances, these costs would be much lower.
For example, if we consider the pricing of branded medicines with those of the generic medicines available at government facilities, we will understand how marketing can inflate the price of a product as essential as a medicine.
Secondly, consumers are also weary and aware of the various deceptive practices. Marketers often, through pricing, packaging, or promotion practices, deceive their customers making them think that they will get more value than what will they do.
For example, clothing brands often put-up advertisements that would tell the customers that there are 60% discounts on their products. However, majority of these ads provide limited information to deceive the consumers. While trying to purchase from their stores, it is often found out that the discount is applicable only on non-essential products and not on what customers would generally prefer buying.
Deception by Promotion
Deception by promotion is extremely common. Marketers try to portray the functions of their products in exaggerated and inflated manner. In addition, these tricks are also a part of packaging where through subtle design, misleading labelling and misquoting of size are used as means of inflate the package contents.
Companies also have a battery of salespeople who would pressurize the consumers for making a purchase which in all probability is not a necessary item or service to buy. For products like insurances, real estates, used cars and others, high pressure selling would mean that the salesperson would torture you either by being extremely pushy, assertive, and loudmouthed or by flattering you with his smooth yet deceiving talks.
Deliberate Obsolete Product Designing
Products are deliberately designed in such a way that they go obsolete before the actual need of a new model or replacement arises.
One classic example is that of refilled printer cartridge. One can refill the printer cartridges for almost half the price of cartridge, eight to ten time, for the same or improved performance. However, the printer companies operate by continually introducing new models, tweaking inkjet cartridges and laser toner containers, thereby making an alternative supply chain impossible.
Another example is that with many mobile phone manufactures who deliberate make certain models obsolete, thereby creating the need for new phones even when the older ones would have functioned perfectly with just a software upgrade.
Marketing’s Impact on Society as a Whole
In our society, people are judged by what they have instead of being based on who we are. Experts from the field of management and economics feel that it is now time to stop wasting resources and return to basic moral values and socially responsible behaviour.
- Obsession with Materialism and Consumerism Continues
The obsession with materialism and consumerism is increasing. People are now possessed by the products and services which did not even exist a couple of centuries back.
Mobile phones and internet are the classic examples for the same.
Spending is more than Income
The spending is often more than the income. The question here is that who is to blame? The obsession with materialism and endless desire to have everything is not an inbuilt tendency or a natural state of mind but something created by the marketers over the past few decades.
Imbalance between Private and Public Goods
Businesses have also failed to maintain a balance between private and public goods. With a monumental increase in the number of people who owns cars, the requirement for public services such as roads, highways, traffic signals, parking space, etc., have also gone up. There are societal costs associated with these too.
For example, a greater number of cars lead to more air pollution, car accidents, traffic congestion, fuel shortages and others. The only thing the marketers have done is to increase the selling of private goods and have completely avoided the public services and costs associated with the same.
Consumer Privacy Has Become a Major Issue
With the advent of marketing, consumer privacy has also become a major issue. Email boxes full of spam mails, telemarketing calls, ad suggestions on social media based on what you have surfed/searched for, commercials interrupting almost every channel, are cluttering the unconscious minds of people with messages of greed, power, status, and materialism.
Marketing's Impact on Other Businesses
It is understood and accepted that companies' marketing practices can harm other companies and reduce competition. Let us see how.
Companies Expand by Acquiring Competitors
Firms are harmed and competition is reduced when companies expand by acquiring competitors rather than by developing their own new products. For example, Coca-Cola acquired Thums Up, a local cola brand from India, when they re-entered the Indian market. It was done, in all probability, to alleviate all threats to their products and reduce competition.
Acquisition Improves Efficiency
Acquisition is a complex subject. Acquisitions can sometimes be good for society. The acquiring company may gain economies of scale that lead to lower costs and lower prices. A well-managed company may take over a poorly managed company and improve its efficiency. An industry that was not very competitive might become more competitive after the acquisition. But acquisitions can also be harmful, and therefore closely regulated by the Government.
Bar New Companies
Experts have also claimed that marketing practices bar new companies from entering an industry. The use of patents and heavy promotion spending can tie up suppliers or dealers to keep out or drive out competitors.
Unfair Competitive Marketing Practices
Some firms have in fact used unfair competitive marketing practices with the intention of hurting or destroying other firms. They may do so by putting below costs, threatening to cut off business with suppliers, or discouraging the buying of a competitor's products.
For example, Air Deccan, a low-cost Indian airlines was brought over by Kingfisher and then put out of operation completely.
While there is no simple way for corporations and organisations to lower social expenses, there are numerous ways to have a positive impact on society. Many firms, organisations, and foundations are consciously working to increase and improve their social marketing impact.
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