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In recent years, attention to social and environmental issues in product marketing has become a mainstream practice and offers opportunities for firms to differentiate themselves in the market. Popular examples abound: organic produce, hybrid cars, and fair trade coffee, to name just a few. While business coursework is quickly following practice in the field, our data show that a critical examination of the social impact of marketing is limited in some instances to issues of legality and ethics. When ethical concerns are raised, they are commonly discussed in the context of avoiding harmful marketing practices, especially prohibitive product pricing and deceptive advertising. On the other hand, international marketing classes do a good job of discussing socio-cultural considerations in the analysis of new target markets. It is noteworthy that a handful of MBA programs offer courses specifically addressing “social marketing”; that is, using concepts from commercial marketing, such as the traditional “four P’s” marketing mix (i.e., Product, Place, Promotion, and Pricing), to bring about social change. Also, academic research has highlighted the use of, and further potential for, social marketing for environmental causes.1 A few of these forward-looking strategic marketing courses are highlighted in the “notable coursework” section below.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
According to Dr. Bruce Hutton, several years ago topics related to the environment and social issues were considered “add-ons” and were included at the end of marketing texts. Now, these issues are better integrated throughout such texts. There are many social impact management topics in marketing that are worthy of inclusion into coursework. Examples include the impacts of product development, design, and pricing decisions on both consumers and business sustainability, as well as the impacts of “niche marketing” on both target markets and sustainable competitive corporate strategy.
A FACULTY POINT OF VIEW:
Dr. Bruce Hutton is a Professor of Marketing at the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver. He has also served as Dean and Chairman of the Marketing Department in his twenty years at Denver. Additionally, Dr. Hutton is a co-founder of the Colorado Ethics in Business Awards, a unique grassroots effort to recognize individuals, companies, and nonprofit organizations for ethics and socially responsible actions. On cutting-edge issues in marketing: “Every aspect of the traditional marketing mix is being affected by the opportunities provided by the expansion of marketing thought to include social and environmental issues in the development of marketing strategy. New ways of greening the supply chain, pressuring suppliers to be environmentally sensitive and have ethical practices with regard to labor and human rights provide ways of differentiating brands. Engaging in partnerships with civil society organizations as well as government is providing access to new markets and resources. Perspectives, such as those presented in
For example, see Edward Maibach’s “Social Marketing for the Environment: Using Information Campaigns to Promote Environmental Awareness and Behavior Change”, Health Promotion International, Vol. 9, No. 3, 209-224. Oxford University Press, 1993. Additionally, Oxford University presented, “Social Marketing for the Environment: Using Water Wisely”, a conference in November 2006. See http://www.conted.ox.ac.uk/cpd/env/courses/social.asp for the announcement.
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Prahalad’s book, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, are opening up heretofore ignored markets and are leading to new innovations in meeting the needs of the poor.” On student interest in environmental, social, and ethical issues in marketing: “Students respond very positively to such topics when they are presented in the context of the overall marketing process, so they can see the linkage between these practices and the creation of firm value, customer satisfaction, brand reputation, innovation, competitive advantage, etc.—and the fulfillment of the marketing concept. It is also true that, increasingly, students come to the business school seeking training in such issues and wanting to go to work for socially responsible companies and make a difference, as well as a living, in their careers.”
The following course descriptions are drawn exclusively from Beyond Grey Pinstripes, a research survey conducted biennially by the Aspen Institute. ■ ESADE Business School Managing Marketing from Global HQ (Core Course) Instructor: Josep Franch “The course on ‘Managing Marketing from Global HQ’ presents cultural and environmental impact as an element to be taken into account in the strategy of internationalization. The course is principally concerned with the application of a genuinely global perspective from headquarters: it insists on the need for taking the cultural values of each region into consideration in order to design marketing that respects these values; furthermore, it examines issues concerned with the social reputation of the company as a result of its contribution to the development of an emerging country, its social investing and its environmental policy. Moreover, marketing strategy is also planned with reference to socioeconomic criteria, seeking to favor depressed areas through the implementation of lasting entrepreneurial projects.” Asian Institute of Management Marketing Management (Core Course) Instructors: E.M.P. Santos and A.V. Concepcion “Marketing Management is a core subject in the two-year Master in Business Administration (MBA) program. It is given on the first year of the MBM program to introduce students to the concepts and theories of Marketing Management with focus on ASEAN business systems. It aims to help the students learn a comprehensive and systematic approach to strategic marketing process and to learn to think critically (ask intelligent questions) and strategically. Also, it aims to develop an appreciation and understanding of marketing's roles and social responsibilities in a global society.” Boston University, School of Management (2003 data) Marketing Social Change (Elective Course) Instructor: C.B. Battacharya “Corporations have recently shown tremendous interest in corporate social initiatives by supporting social causes and non-profit organizations. Many companies now have social responsibility managers. Phrases such as "cause branding," "strategic volunteerism," and "enviro-preneurial marketing" have infiltrated the mainstream business vocabulary as companies look for ways to integrate social perspectives into their marketing strategy. This course trains students to be leaders who will catalyze this management revolution.” The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Kenan-Flagler Business School Legal and Social Environment of Marketing (Elective Course) Instructor: Paul Bloom (now at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business)
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“Students become familiar with various topics, including the design of more effective campaigns for socially- or environmentally-beneficial behaviors (for instance, a “stop smoking” or “don’t litter” advertising campaign). Students also learn about corporate societal marketing initiatives that earn profits and promote social welfare, antitrust issues, and public policies that protect consumers from making poor marketplace choices and encourage vigorous competition for customers. Students acquire skills and an improved ability to market socially and to assess government and corporate social initiatives.” ■ Stanford University, Graduate School of Business Global and International Marketing (Elective Course) Instructor: Wasim Azhar “This course addresses the opportunities and challenges associated with the development and implementation of marketing strategy in international markets. It aims to develop frameworks and knowledge that will enable future managers to better formulate and effectively implement marketing plans in different regions of the world. Topics covered include global brand management; analysis of various international market structures; market entry strategies in developed and emerging markets including country selection and marketing program design based on consumer, country and competitive analysis; international marketing mix strategies including the globally standardized versus locally adapted marketing program debate; and international pricing, advertising and promotion strategies.” Georgetown University, Robert E. McDonough School of Business Social Marketing (Elective Course) Instructor: Alan Andreasen “This course gives students a set of frameworks and tools valuable in bringing about socially desirable behavioral outcomes beyond the economic marketplace. We consider the need for structural change as well as changes in behavior by those carrying out undesirable practices. We discuss challenges of raising issues on the public, media and political agendas, developing strategies to influence legislators, business leaders, community leaders and the media to bring about social change. Many of the examples discussed in class are in public health, violence prevention and economic development.” For additional courses on related subjects, search 1,672 descriptions at Beyond Grey Pinstripes.
NOTABLE TEACHING MATERIALS:
Materials referenced are meant to represent the diversity of related teaching resources available at Caseplace.org. Most are available as free downloads to registered faculty members. ■ Case Study: Procter & Gamble and Population Services International (PSI): Social Marketing for Safe Water Source: INSEAD, 2006 PuR, the water purification product sold in small sachets, had suffered a string of failed market tests, but the public health benefits of the product had been demonstrated repeatedly in bottom of the pyramid (BOP) markets where finding clean drinking water can be a daily calamity. As part of its global CSR (corporate social responsibility) expansion initiative, Procter & Gamble (P&G) move the product from the commercial to the corporate sustainable development (CSD) unit, which took the pressure off PuR brand managers to meet market sales projections. This move created new pressures, however, for those managing CSR initiatives - to take the product global on a philanthropy budget. Partnering with Population Services International (PSI), the global NGO (non-governmental
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organisation) with offices in over 65 countries, and expertise in social marketing, P&G would play a supporting role. Building a sustainable social market for water treatment, in places like Haiti and Uganda, presented challenges, but also presented unexpected benefits, measured in terms of P&G's stakeholder engagement. ■ Suggested Reading: Marketing that Matters by C. Conley and E. Friedenwald-Fishman (BerrettKoehler Publishers, 2006) Many business leaders view marketing as the crass, ugly side of business. This new book proves that "marketing" isn't a dirty word — it's the key to advancing both business ideals and the bottom line. Written by two down-to-earth, experienced entrepreneurs, Marketing That Matters is an in-thetrenches guide to building a marketing plan that embodies personal values instead of exploiting them. This compact volume provides overworked entrepreneurs, who want to match their mission with their values but who lack the time or training to develop a strategy, with the steps needed to incorporate effective marketing into their business plan. Social Performance” by Dr. Paul Bloom, Fuqua School of Business at Duke University This paper presents an overview of the research undertaken by marketing scholars concerned with the social impact of marketing practices. The author outlines the field and discusses: the recent research focus to help managers to improve their company's performance; the study of harmful marketing practices; the legislative and judicial treatment of certain marketing practices; the study of macromarketing issues; the identification of practices which hinder and promote corporate social performance and key questions which animate this research.
■ Concept Paper: “What Research in Marketing Can Teach Managers About Improving Corporate
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What type of academic collaboration is necessary for useful metrics to be developed that effectively measure the impact of social and environmental marketing? Are the expectations of corporate recruiters of marketing professionals changing at a similar pace to changes in corporate practice itself? What will the 2007 Beyond Grey Pinstripes survey results reveal about curricular shifts over the past two years in marketing courses?
BeyondGreyPinstripes.org – World’s biggest MBA database, including detailed records on 1,672 courses, 1,730 extracurriculars, and 216 research articles at 128 schools on six continents. CasePlace.org – A free and practical on-line resource for up-to-date case studies, syllabi, and innovative teaching materials on business and sustainability. Created for the educators who will shape our next generation of business leaders!
A Closer Look is a monthly series of briefing papers on topical issues in MBA education, based on the research and programs of the Aspen Institute. The Aspen Institute Business and Society Program works with senior corporate executives and MBA educators to prepare business leaders who will effectively manage the financial, social, and environmental impacts of the private sector.
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