Foundations of Marketing

by Jonathan Groucutt

Chapter 1: A Brief Introduction to Marketing

The Seminar Room

North AmericaIn Chapter 1 a view is taken that marketing is not a panacea – it is not a cure for all ills. Nor are marketers wizards. Increasingly there are concerns (see Chapter 2 mini case: obesity) that marketing is ‘dysfunctional’ and has a detrimental affect upon both the physical world in which we live and its inhabitants. While I agree that both individuals and the marketing departments of some companies have pushed both ethical and legal boundaries, not all marketers can be painted as ‘cynical money-grabbing unethical charlatans’. Many, perhaps the vast majority, are honest and decent law abiding and ethical citizens of the world.

That said it is important for individuals and communities to stand-up to organizations and companies that they feel are pushing the limits. Here we should return to some basic principles. On the 15 th March 1962 the then US President John F. Kennedy delivered a message to Congress in which he stated the need for a Consumers’ Bill of Rights. In this he outlined four basic principles:

The right to product safety

The right to be informed and protected

The right to choose from a variety of products

The right to be heard by Government

Although the Bill never became law, it has nonetheless influenced consumers, governments and lawmakers ever since. It is clear that people, especially the most vulnerable, must be protected, whether they are young or old. Perhaps in the drive for sales, companies do not consider the negative impact of their actions upon the consumers, especially the vulnerable.

Over the past ten years or so there has been an increasing consumer movement against certain types of businesses and business practices. As stated in the textbook there is increasing worldwide concern over obesity. Here there is a mixture of actions. Consumers are either changing their eating habits and/or boycotting fast food restaurants. Legislatures are considering ways of curbing the actions of such fast food restaurants, and the fast food restaurants themselves are seeking to provide more nutritional meals.

However, it is not just the issue of obesity that is exercising the minds of many Americans. They are concerned with the whole approach to advertising to certain groups – for example children. And they have become very vocal in their concerns. For example, in the US the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood seeks to counter ‘the harmful effects of marketing to children through action, advocacy, education, research, and collaboration among organizations and individuals who care about children.’

You may or may not agree with their views. However you should consider all perspectives when studying the subject. Check out their website –www.commercialexploitation.org/aboutus.htm. They have a very detailed fact book (printable online) that covers marketing to children: New marketing techniques; marketing to babies and toddlers; the commercialisation of play; marketing, materialism and family stress; marketing in schools; food marketing and childhood obesity; marketing violence to children; marketing sex to children (this is about sexual content in terrestrial programming whether it is drama or music video); Marketing, body image and eating disorders; alcohol marketing and underage drinking; tobacco marketing; resources for parents and concerned citizens.

As stated earlier you may agree (with all or some of their points of view) or disagree. However, these issues are important and should be explored. It is a valuable resource especially later in your studies if you consider writing a dissertation or paper of related subjects/issues.

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The Café

General
Consider the following questions:
  • What is the real future or marketing?
  • Should marketing actually be called ‘marketing’ or is there a better way of summarising the ‘marketing experience’?
  • Is marketing an ethical business activity? Do you ever feel that you are continually being bombarded by marketing messages? Do you trust some or all of these marketing messages? Do you feel gullible to some or all of these marketing messages?
Scams Give Marketing a Really Bad Name

As indicated in the textbook (see marketer: alchemist, magician, sorcerer and medicine man) history is littered with scams of one sort or another. From elixirs of life, guaranteed to cure any ailment, through to dubious sales techniques. While they have been with us, perhaps since the dawn of time, the digital age has spawned a whole new range of mass-market scams.

The UK’s Office of Fair Trading estimate that scams cost consumers a stunning UK £1Bn per year. Normally those affected by such scams are the vulnerable, especially the young and elderly. It is important that everyone is vigilant against such scams. Moreover, companies and industries need to work together with law enforcement agencies to reduce the global impact of such scams. Otherwise the impact upon legitimate companies attempting to market their products and services across cyberspace.

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The Library

Corporate Social Responsibility

Issues surrounding major corporate scandals, the impact of globalization, consumer and worker rights, obesity and pollution have come to the forefront of discussion. All these, and many more issues have in some way or another linkage to marketing. For instance, the active promotion of certain food types may lead to obesity. Equally, certain types of packaging have a detrimental impact upon our natural environment.

Although there is not a specific chapter within the textbook the issue of ethics is discussed throughout. The following are websites – both government and independent – that provide additional resources on the need for, and issues surrounding, Corporate Social Responsibility.

www.societyandbusiness.gov.uk

This is the UK Government’s website operated by the Department of Trade and Industry.

www.responsibleshopper.org

This website provides a wealth of research material on products, packaging and companies. It strives to balance criticism of companies with praise. Original information sources are also acknowledged (and linked). It also provides lists of company brands and subsidiaries.

www.csr-asia.com

A very informative website that covers CSR activity (including major conferences) in the Asia-Pacific region. There is also a downloadable 16-page weekly newsletter.

www.sweatshopwatch.org

This is a US-based organisation that examines working conditions mainly within the US garment industry.


Trade and Commerce and Their Relationship to Marketing

If you are interested in the history of trade and commerce (and thus its relationship with marketing) you might want to check out the following books.

Gibbon, E. (1993) The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Vols 1-3. London: Everyman’s Library. Edward Gibbon originally published these separately between 1776 and 1788. Although historical research has discovered much since Gibbon’s writings, his work still conjurers up much of the flavour of Rome and its Empire.

Wild, A. (1999) The East India Company: Trade and Conquest From 1600. London and India: HarperCollins.

Useful websites

The following are websites for various marketing institutes and associations across the world. You may wish to explore them to see how marketing is viewed in perhaps your own country as well as others.
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