Societal Marketing – Definition, Concept, and Advantages

Simone Kohl

3 mins read

What is Societal Marketing? 

Societal marketing puts human welfare first, not profit. Social responsibility is paramount, so a Societal Marketing Concept develops a marketing strategy that adds value to customers to improve the well-being of customers and society. It is an advanced form of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainable marketing. 

Societal marketing creates an image of the company to the customer and can increase sales through a positive corporate image. The term emphasizes social responsibility and is closely related to sustainable development.  

What is a Societal Marketing Concept?  

The concept has been around since the 1970s and introduced a marketing concept more focused on social needs. Philip Kotler introduced it in a Harvard Business Review article in 1972.  

The concept can also be called the “concept of people” or “concept of intelligent consumption” and it is part of a holistic marketing concept. It is different from the concepts of social marketing and social media marketing and can be seen as an extension of marketing concepts.  

The question often arises for customers whether organizations can balance customer satisfaction with the fulfillment of long-term social well-being. In the concept of societal marketing, products should have social and environmental value.  

Due to the expectations of users and consumers, an evolution of marketing concepts is taking place. Companies, therefore, need to pay more attention to how products and actions affect society. In recent years, marketers have increasingly looked to social responsibility and incorporated it into strategies.  

As part of the strategy, companies must be willing to forgo profitability or other opportunities if it is not compatible with social goals. This can be a challenge for many companies. Therefore, companies must strike a balance between the interests of the company, consumers, and society. After all, for companies, Societal Marketing offers the opportunity to create a positive connection with the company and thus increase the number of potential customers.  

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Why is it important?  

The marketing concept is of great importance for society, the environment, and the company itself. The concept was developed to counteract the consumerism and the goal of profit-making of enterprises. In addition, the marketing concept can maximize the company’s profit and build long-term customer loyalty. 

Separate Societal Marketing from Social Marketing  

There are differences between social marketing and social marketing. Social marketing is about bringing about social change by appealing to people to do good. In Societal Marketing, the goal is the same, but it is more of corporate philosophy. So that’s why it serves as the basis for many marketing decisions. Societal marketing asks companies to develop a marketing strategy based on the human welfare of society. Nevertheless, it is still a form of marketing and marketing is about increasing brand awareness, optimizing the image, and standing out from the competition.  

3 Considerations of Societal Marketing Concept 

When determining marketing strategies, three aspects that must be weighed: corporate profits, the desires of consumers, and the interests of society.   

  • Corporate profits 
    Building long-term customer relationships, social responsibility, and product quality are all important in generating profits.  
  • Consumer wishes  
    Products should meet the needs and desires of customers. 
  • Interests of society  
    The products or services should serve society and represent its interests. 

Goals of Societal Marketing Concept

The goals of the Societal Marketing Concept are as follows:  

  • Maintain customer relationships in the long term 
  • Improve image in society  
  • Fulfill social obligations and assume responsibility  
  • Develop a social awareness of the brands  
  • Increase the customer base with the positive image 

Advantages and benefits  

  • Better image for the company  
  • Competitive advantage over the competition  
  • Customer loyalty and long-term development of customer relationships  
  • Increase in sales through positive brand image  
  • And thus growth in the long term  
  • Increase social well-being  
  • Economic planning for society becomes more significant 

Instruments of Societal Marketing 

Four product categories identify long-term benefits:  

  • Lower quality products do not provide long-term benefits  
  • Satisfying products bring only short-term benefits and may harm society  
  • Useful products bring long-term benefits and short-term satisfaction  
  • Desirable products bring long-term benefits and immediate satisfaction  

This means launching products that focus on the welfare of consumers and society rather than selling products. 

Final thoughts  

Social marketing prompts companies to actively work toward the good of society and participate in social activities. It raises the question of whether the long-term desires and the long-term good are considered in the marketing strategy. 


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Simone Kohl
Simone Kohl

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