Societal marketing emphasizes several aspects of responsible marketing, beyond simply focusing on the process of maximizing consumer purchasing. Societal marketing extends ahead of the company's needs and seeks to meet the customer's needs and societal needs. This allows for more sustainable success rather than short-term accomplishment. Essentially, the goal is to provide a marketing strategy that betters both consumer and societal well-being. Although societal marketing still aims at surpassing the competition, its strategy has changed. There is an understanding in this type of marketing that while it may not provide higher yields, it is more socially responsible.
Societal marketing appeared during the 1970s in an attempt to provide marketing concepts that were more in tune with social needs and established more ethical practices. As more emphasis was placed on social responsibility, more companies moved toward business practices that supported these values. The idea of social responsibility surfaced decades before societal marketing became an option. However, during the 1960s and 1970s, the unethical business practices of many companies became public information. Suddenly, large corporations were under the scrutiny of the consumer. To better this image, action was taken to increase social responsibly, which led to societal marketing.
When companies adopt societal marketing, they are choosing to maintain socially responsible practices that benefit consumers and the larger community. Companies using this type of marketing are concerned with not only immediate customer satisfaction but also long-term impact on the customer and society. Several avenues exist for this social responsibility. For instance, a company focusing on social responsibility from an environmental perspective may strive to decrease its carbon print on the earth. Therefore, one of its goals might be to reduce practices that pollute or damage the environment.
One of the major goals of societal marketing is to improve brand image in the eyes of the consumer. For companies, this is referred to as corporate societal marketing, or CSM. This type of marketing has several goals, including building the image of the brand, developing more community awareness of the brand, ensuring a sense of credibility in the brand, eliciting consumer feelings toward the brand and ultimately securing a customer/brand connection.
Societal marketing can have a variety of impacts on the consumer and the community. Advocates for this type of marketing believe that by enforcing products and practices that benefit consumers and communities for the long run, they will also achieve more loyal customers for the long term. If consumers have a positive perception of the company, then the brand name will be strengthened by these views and business will improve.
Societal marketing can positively impact consumers and society in several ways. First, shifting to a consumer-oriented strategy reinforces the needs of the customer over the corporation. Therefore, rather than focusing on a sale, regardless of the positive or negative effect on the company, the customer's well-being is put first. For instance, many food-based companies have begun marketing strategies that highlight their healthy foods rather than their less-healthy alternatives. These same companies might provide nutrition facts, information about trans fats and other health-related facts. Not only does this information educate the consumer, but it also establishes the impression that the company is accounting for the client's needs. Companies that both advertise and invest in programs that shift to environmentally friendly business practices are examples of how societal marketing can help the larger community.