What Is Societal Marketing?

Societal marketing is a marketing technique that balances profits and consumer desire by assessing the interests of targeted consumers and then aiming to deliver products more effectively and efficiently based on that information. The final product should therefore benefit both company and consumer.

When a company uses societal marketing, it delivers healthier and more effective products than its competition, and the products benefit the customer's and society's overall welfare. Societal marketing is therefore closely linked to corporate social responsibility and sustainable practices. It is also related to user-based or user-centered design, which bases the product design and marketing on feedback from real user experience with the product or design. Two examples of companies that use societal marketing are the Body Shop, which markets and promotes the fact that it uses only plant materials in its products, and AVON, which initiated a breast cancer awareness campaign in 1993.

Societal marketing was introduced by marketing author Philip Kotler in an article entitled “What Consumerism Means for Marketers” that appeared in the Harvard Business Review Journal in the 1970s. While the concept had been employed in marketing for years before the article was printed, societal marketing was never named or officially part of company marketing plans until Kotler wrote about it.