Table of Contents
Environmental sustainability in marketing strategy refers to adopting marketing methods which meet the needs of the current generation without negatively affecting the ability of future generations to satisfy their own needs (Frank-Martin & Pettie, 2009). In other words, environmental sustainability in marketing strategy implies that some factors and strategies are maintained in a way that it contributes to the quality of the environment on a long-term basis (Mariadoss, Tansuhaj, & Mouri, 2011). Although adopting environmental sustainability in marketing comes with benefits such as achieving better public relations and protecting the environment, some scholars have argued that marketing strategy should not be concerned with environmental sustainability.
The primary objectives of any marketing strategy are market identification, positioning, and determination of the marketing mix, and none of them is a concerned with environmental sustainability. Market identification is a key objective of any marketing strategy, and it involves identifying the demographic segment in which a business aims to sells its products or services. Positioning is how a business wants to customers to perceive its products. Positioning and branding do not refer to the same thing as the latter refers to the emotional response related to company culture. The final objective of a marketing strategy is to determine the marketing mix which consists of the 4Ps namely product, pricing, place, and utility.
Market identification, also market segmentation, involves choosing a set of factors in order to compose criteria for identifying the customer consumption behavior. One of the variables of marketing segmentation is age, and several researchers have explored its relevance in environmental sustainability in marketing. According to Kottler (2011), there is no significant relationship between age and the environmental attitudes/behavior of customers. An environmental attitude is a personality trait, and that is not affected by age. This observation implies that any person of any age can decide whether or not be environmentally conscious.
Another variable that is often used to identify green consumers is the level of education, and the general assumption is that people with high levels of education access more information about environmental protection and show great concern about environmental purity. However, the correlation between the level of education and environmental attitude is not confirmed. For example, Armstrong et al. (2004) argue that the correlation between educational level and environmental consciousness is negative while Chabowski, Mena, & Gonzalez-Padron (2011) found no significant relationship between the two variables. Similarly, Dangelico & Pujari (2010) researched to unravel the relationship between income level of consumers and environmental behavior and concluded that income was not a reliable variable for gauging the environmental attitude of a consumer.
As a result of the lack of significant relationship between the above variables and environmental attitude, market segmentation is not a concern of environmental sustainability since its difficult to differentiate between an environmentally conscious segment of the population and one that is not (Melville, 2010). Therefore, it is irrelevant for a business to adopt environmentally conscious methods of advertising when the targeted market segment does not see its importance (Connelly, Ketchen, & Slater, 2011). One of the objectives of advertising is to appeal the emotion of the clientele, and since it is difficult to identify those that are environmentally conscious, there is no need for environmental sustainability in marketing (McKenzi-Mohr, 2011). A business should not waste resources over a course that is less significant in the long term.
Market positioning is the process of establishing the brand identity so that consumers can perceive it in a certain desired way. For instance, a car manufacturer may position its products as luxurious in order to attract consumers from the highest social class who buy cars for luxury. In addition, a coffee fast food restaurant may desire its consumers to perceive it as a provider of affordable meals. Like market identification/segmentation, market positioning is not directly concerned with environmental sustainability for some reasons. Consumers in working or residing in rural and urban areas are slowly becoming aware of the advantages of green advertising. However, the idea of environmental sustainability is a new idea for a big part of the population implying that it is not yet time for businesses to intervene. In addition, it is difficult to adopt environmental sustainability in marketing at a time when consumers may not react to it yet it is imperative for an effective market position. Instead, it is imperative to educate the people on the effects of environmental pollution and the significance of environmental sustainability in marketing. In others words, the level of knowledge regarding the importance of environmental sustainability in marketing among the masses is low thus making it a less concern for marketing strategies. Until then, companies will waste resources over a course that is currently irrelevant to the effectiveness of a marketing strategy. Therefore, environmental sustainability in marketing is a subject of future which has not yet arrived.
Marketing mix also referred to as 4Ps of Marketing, consists of product, pricing, place, and promotion. Marketing mix is not a concern for environmental sustainability because its objectives are not related to determining a suitable place, price, product, and promotional strategy of a brand. For instance, there is now way in which a company can make its pricing strategy environmentally conscious since prices do not affect the environment. Also, it is inappropriate for a company to adopt a distribution method which does not affect the environment. In summary, it only the promotion part of the marketing mix that is relevant to environmental sustainability and that always been tuned to suit the objective.
Apart from the argument that the objectives of a marketing strategy are not related to environmental sustainability, the course to realize environmental objectivity in marketing is challenging. First, the adopting environmental sustainability in marketing is a costly process in the initial stages and companies are required to commit a great deal of resources to realize success. Second, while going green in marketing is promising in terms of improved public relations, the process could prove costlier in a case of a customer backlash. Customer backlashes come as a result of consumers becoming aware that a company is engaging in green washing. Green washing is when is when a company makes false claims about the environmental friendliness of its products.
Social and Commercial Marketing
Social and commercial marketing differs in terms of products, focus, marketing tools, and satisfying needs (Lee & Kotler, 2011). In commercial marketing, the main product is tangible goods and services such as vehicles, household items, houses, stationery, and others. Commercial marketers create, communicate, deliver, and exchange offering that has value for consumers, partners, and the society (Peattie & Peattiem 2009). Similarly, commercial marketing is the process where the needs and expectations of a customer are identified and satisfied by a company’s products and services for profitability (Kraak, Kumanyika, & Story, 2009). It is through commercial marketing that a company develops a competitive advantage over other firms in the same industry. On the other hand, the main objective of social marketing is to achieve a set of behavioral goals for the benefit of the society (Xu et al., 2009). For instance, social marketing can convince people to stop smoking in public areas, drive at low speed in certain areas, reduce the consumption of alcohol, and report cases of vandalism. By encouraging the members of the society to desist from using harmful products or encouraging them use healthy products, social marketing promotes the good health of the society. This difference is what makes commercial marketing easier because it is about delivering a product or service that consumer desires and in the format they want (Peattie, Peattie, & Ponting, 2009). On the other hand, social marketing is about convincing a certain consumer that the particular behavior they are engaging in is bad or unhealthy or dangerous and that they should engage in another that is safer.
Another difference is that commercial marketing satisfies the needs of an individual while social marketing satisfies the needs of the whole society (Weinreich, 2010). For instance, take a case where the society is suffering from the demerits of road accidents caused by factors such as bad roads, reckless drivers, and speeding (Lefebre, 2011). In such as case, there are injuries and deaths caused to people and the need of the society is to reduce the rate of the road accidents. Social marketers, such as Ministry of Transport and other relevant Non-Governmental Organizations will intervene by initiating campaigns (an example of a social marketing strategy) to encourage pedestrians to use Zebra Crossings to cross the road and drivers to drive at low-speed limits (Brennan & Binney, 2010). As a result of the campaigns, social marketers satisfy the needs of the society which was to reduce the injuries and deaths caused by road accidents. Contrastingly, commercial marketing satisfies the need of an individual by advertising the presence of a needed product or service. For instance, commercial marketers study the market and discover that civil servants do not have avenues for borrowing loans at low interests rates and require less securities (Donovan & Henley,2010). As a result, the commercial marketers start a SACCO and advertise their services which include giving loans at low-interest rates. As a result, the commercial marketers will have satisfied the needs of a few individuals in the society that desired loans.
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Regardless of their differences, social and commercial marketing are similar in one way or another. First, consumer orientation is critical in both as the Advertiser understands that the item on sale should communicate to the interested buyers and take care of their needs or wants (Dann, 2010). A commercial marketer will explain to the consumer that the particular product or service is beneficial, and the social marketer will also convince he members of the society about the demerits and merits of a particular social behavior. Second, both social and commercial marketing embrace exchange theory where the interested group/target customers compare the advantages of an equivalent product including but not limited to costs, quality, and quantity. For instance, a battery seller will explain that his batteries last longer than other, while a Drug activist will compare the differences between the body of a smoker and that of a non-smoker (Bell et al. , 2012). Third, market research is utilized in both forms of marketing as the advertiser understands that market examination is the only effective way to investigate and understand the needs, desires, convictions, and the mentality of the targeted market group. For example, commercial markets will search all the available options for civil servants to access loans before determining the features for their own service. Also, marketing research enables the advertiser to design the most effective and successful product promotion strategy. Fourth, both social and commercial advertising segment the audience as each of them have different needs and wants which must all be satisfied in the advertisements. Lastly, results must be measured and utilized for development in social and commercial advertising as feedback is important for future improvements.
Alternatives to Social Marketing
Alternatives to social media that might be used to address social change and problems include cause marketing and developmental communication. Cause marketing is kind of corporate social responsibility where a firm’s promotional campaign serves to increase profitability and to better the society at the same time. Similar to cause marketing is cause-related marketing where for-profit businesses and non-profit organizations combine efforts for mutual benefit. An example of a cause-related marketing is one where collection boxes are placed in checkout counters, and customers are asked to give contributions for a charitable cause such as reducing the rate of new HIV infections. As opposed to causing related marketing, cause marketing is only a promotional campaign that does not necessarily involve a donation. Cause marketing is beneficial to non-profit organizations as it enables them to use greater financial resources to promote their objectives. Other potential benefits of cause marketing include improved public and customer relations, additional marketing opportunities, and increased revenue. These benefits are a result of giving the consumer a philanthropic feeling that he or she is helping a charitable course by simply purchasing a bar of chocolate. Developmental communication is an alternative to social marketing that uses communication to facilitate social change. It involves stakeholders, policy makers, and other willing groups or companies to facilitate a certain change. Unlike social marketing, developmental communication allows all forms of companies to join the course in advocating for social change.
Internal marketing is the act of involving employees at all levels of the organization to enable them to understand their role in marketing (Wieseke et al., 2009). Although external marketing is critical for business development, is important to sell the business internally toward the organization’s staff. When members of staff understand and are committed to the value proposition of the organization, external marketing becomes easier and effective because the employees promote the company’s products (Hollensen, 2015). Similarly, employees become an extension of the company’s brand and are in a good position to promote it to other people. Examples of internal marketing programs include training and staff development and effective internal communication aimed at enhancing the employee’s knowledge and skills about the marketing objectives of the organization (Winston & Cahill, 2012). Internal marketing is valuable to the organizations because it leads to a happy and satisfied employees and customers, strong brand reputation, trust, and confidence in the company, and increase revenue (Winston and Cahill, 2013).
Internal marketing is more beneficial to the organization in the long run than to the employee because of a number of reasons. First, a customer-oriented workforce attracts and retains customers hence guaranteeing a continuous flow of sales for the company’s products and services. Second, enhanced external business relationships imply that the external market is confident and trusts the company in their engagement (Bouranta, Chitiris, & Paravantis, 2009). Third, a better flow of information internally enables all the departments of an organization to achieve the same goal. This is because internal marketing creates good coordination and cooperation among the different departments of an organization. In addition, all the employees and departments have a common understanding of the business and know how each departmentoperates to achieve its own goals. Fourth, empowered employees have enough knowledge and skills to be involved in organization’s decision-making process (Peloza, Hudson, & Hassay, 2009). Lastly, increased profits are beneficial to the organization as it enables it to run its operations without facing any financial problems.
Internal marketing is also important because it based on the philosophy that all the business should move in the same marketing directions. Employees are an important part of marketing because most of them are in contact with the customers. Internal marketing involves treating employees as customers and communicating with them the vision and mission of the firm. Employees that have a deep understanding of the company’s vision and mission will establish a close and strong relationship with the customers (Punjaisri, Evanschitzky, & Wilson, 2009). In addition, empowered employees speak well about the company make the customers to trust and have confidence in the company. Also, employees are motivated and are more satisfied with their job because they feel empowered and involved in the day-to-day running of the organization. This feeling translates to a sense of belonging which breeds responsibility and accountability on the part of the employees (Verčič, Verčič, & Sriramesh, 2012). As a result, it ensures that the employees effectively conduct the company’s programs as an informed employee is one that is more engaged and committed to the desired outcome of the organizations.
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Internal marketing leads to increased revenue for a business through employee satisfaction. Many studies have indicated that employee satisfaction leads to customer satisfaction which results in profit maximization (Foster, Punjaisiri, & Cheng, 2010). By ensuring that customers are satisfied, a business increases the opportunities for repeat sales and at the same time minimize sales and marketing costs. In addition, customer satisfaction increases customer loyalty which reduces the need to set aside funds for acquiring new customers. Satisfied customers serve as word-of-mouth ambassadors to the company’s products and services thus boosting revenue and profitability.
Internal marketing is pre-cursor for employee engagement which involves increasing the participation of employees in the day-to-day running of the organization (Foster, Punjaisirim & Sriramesh, 2013). Employee engagement is of high value to the organization especially if it operates in a competitive employer landscape. It also limits turnover which minimizes the searching, hiring and training new employees. At the moment, the cost of recruitment is high because employers are looking for exceptional employees who cannot be identified by simply conducting job interviews and hiring the best candidate. There are more qualified individuals than before, and human resource departments need more time and resources to assess the applicants and identify the most suitable persin. Therefore, involving employees in filling job vacancies makes work easier as they review the qualifications and recommend a few individuals.
Additionally, internal marketing leads to the creation of sustainable competitive advantage. Intangible assets play a significant role in the competitiveness of a company because they are sustainable and are difficult to imitate (Gronroos, 2009). Human capita; is one of the most critical intangible assets because it encompasses the knowledge and skills of employees. As a result, management of human resources is necessary to acquire and maintain a competitive edge over firms. One of the ways of managing human resources is internal marketing because it involves treating employees as customers whose needs should be identified and satisfied. The concept of internal marketing is that employees are part of the internal market alongside customers and suppliers, and all form a value chain which must satisfy the needs of the customers. Once the needs of the internal customers have been satisfied, the internal customers are in a better position to satisfy the needs of the external customers. When customers are satisfied, they become faithful and loyal to the organization hence an establishing a competitive advantage in the long run. Internal marketing helps customers to understand the quality of the organization’s products and services hence customer satisfaction.
Internal marketing impacts positively to the Internal Service Quality (ISQ) of organizations. One of the strongest predictors that affect ISQ includes recruitment, support system, and development and selection. Internal marketing helps to improve recruitment as it enables employees to understand the recruitment procedures and strategies by making internal postings of job vacancies for employees to clarify the required qualifications. Internal marketing also enables the organization to continuously improve and upgrade various support systems relevant to the different departments. Without Internal marketing, most support systems remain unmaintained, and sub-serviced to the extent that they either stop working or become obsolete in the long run.
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