Societal Marketing Concept: Needs and Initiatives

Societal Marketing Concept: Needs and Initiatives

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Jaya Sharma
Senior Executive Content
Updated on Feb 9, 2024 16:21 IST

Societal marketing concept or social marketing concept was introduced by Philip Kotler. This concept ensures that companies do not neglect the welfare of the society in the race to satisfy consumers and gain more market share. It is important for society, environment and business.


In this article, we will discuss the societal marketing concept in detail. We will also discuss the real-life initiatives taken by renowned organizations.

Table of Contents

What is Societal Marketing Concept?

According to the societal marketing concept, companies should make marketing decisions for the purpose of societal welfare This should, however, cover the requirements of the company as well as the needs of customers of the target market. As per this concept, the organization should work to determine the needs, interests, and wants of the consumers. Based on this research, they should plan to ensure that customers are satisfied in an effective and efficient manner. It can be defined as: 


What are the 3 Primary Concepts of Societal Marketing Concept?

The 3 primary concepts of social marketing:
  1. Consumer Welfare: It represents the interests, wants and needs of consumers. Societal marketing or social marketing is meant to satisfy the requirements of consumers as well as society.
  2. Environmental Welfare: Social marketing must consider the impact of a company's marketing activities on the environment. These marketing activities should be environment-friendly to safeguard the environment. 
  3. Social Welfare: As the name societal marketing suggests, the primary concern of societal marketing is the impact of marketing activities on society.

Explore social marketing courses

Need for the Concept of Societal Marketing

As per Philip Kotler, many firms and industries prioritize their consumers over society. Due to this, the societal marketing concept has been introduced. According to him, the marketing concept should be adjusted to adopt a more explicit social orientation. This concept has evolved from CSR and sustainable development

Learn the importance of sustainable development

The aim of introducing this concept is to improve the public image of the organization through social welfare activities. Marketers need to maintain a balance between making profits, customer satisfaction, and public interest. For this purpose, social marketing practices must be adopted.  

Explore CSR courses

Objectives of Societal Marketing

The following points highlight the objectives of societal marketing:

  • Inculcating the belief among marketers to have greater responsibilities other than satisfying customers. 
  • Facilitating marketers to work for the benefit and overall well-being of the society. 
  • Including social and ethical considerations in marketing practices. 
  • Ensuring that the marketing activities do not cause damage to the environment. 
  • Including ethical, social, and ecological considerations in market planning for every business.  

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Elements of Societal Marketing

The societal marketing concept is based on the following three main elements. To ensure that the company is a going concern in the long run, it needs to ensure that these three elements are in balance. Let us identify them:

  1. Company profits: This is the most important for every profit-oriented organization to grow the business. Without making profits, the company would not be able to survive in the long run. While adopting the societal marketing concept, it is important to ensure that the will to contribute to society does not overpower the main objective of running a business. Such practices should be adopted that not only ensure sustainable development but also should not hamper the business. 
  2. Consumers’ wants: To achieve the primary objective of making profits, companies must satisfy their customers. The requirements of customers must be fulfilled in a manner that does not cause any disturbance in society or our environment. However, without fulfilling their demands, businesses cannot expect to sustain themselves in the long run since consumers are fueling brand growth. 
  3. Society’s interests: While profits and customers’ requirements are essential for business, they should not be achieved at the cost of society’s interest. Ethical business practices must be adopted to ensure sustainability and a balance among the environment. Corporate social responsibility is an essential part of most business models these days. This is important since it is our social responsibility to ensure that future generations have enough to thrive for centuries.

Explore free social responsibility courses

Societal Marketing Practices

The following are the essential societal marketing practices:

  1. Rather than manufacturing from scratch, companies can outsource products. This will not only save them money but also will protect the environment since no manufacturing will prevent pollution. 
  2. Taking the services of fewer but more reliable suppliers who prefer to work in partnership with the company.
  3. Encouraging intrapreneurship and initiatives at the local level instead of being managed from the top of the hierarchy.
  4. Choosing desirable products since they bring in immediate satisfaction as well as benefits for long-term interests. 
  5. Avoiding pleasing, deficient and salutary products.  
  6. Conducting the business digitally instead of utilizing resources for personal selling. 
  7. Organizing the business by market segment instead of by products segment. 

Societal Marketing Initiatives Taken by Companies

The societal marketing concept is yet to be adopted by many companies across the globe. However, there are many organizations that have incorporated the concept of societal marketing in their brand value:

1. CoCa-Cola 

As a part of societal marketing, Coca-Cola published the ‘America is Beautiful’ song in different languages. The song indicated that Coca-Cola appreciates cultural harmony from a large point of view. In 2014, the company contributed $126,000,000 towards women’s empowerment, healthy living, and several disaster relief programs.  

2. AVON Product Inc.

The company started an initiative called ‘Avon breast cancer awareness crusade’ in partnership with NABCO in 1993. The company started selling pink ribbon pins for $2 out of which $1 was donated to NABCO. Through this campaign, the company was able to raise billion of dollars for breast cancer awareness and early detection services.  

3. Airbnb 

In 2017, the company aired a ‘Super Bowl’ ad that gave the message of accepting and appreciating diversity in human culture. The ending statement was, “the world is more beautiful the more you accept.”. Airbnb aimed to provide short-term shelter for over 100,000 disaster survivors and refugees for the next five years. The company also announced a donation of $4 million to the ‘International Rescue Committee’ for the next four years. 

4. Body Shop 

The Body Shop Foundation funds Animal protection programs, Human rights protections, and Environmental protection. It is an environmentally conscious brand that works towards social and environmental improvement.

5. McDonald's

Throughout the later part of the 1980s, McDonald's started taking environmentally positive steps in domestic operations. The brans started using lighter-weight paper in straws and paper bags. Along with that, the brand used recycled paper and cardboard packaging. It switched from polystyrene which had CFCs to plastic foam that has hydrocarbon-blowing agents.

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What is Social Marketing Advantages and Disadvantages?

Advantages of Societal Marketing Concept

It not only helps the company in gaining a positive reputation but also has the following advantages:

  • Helps in improving the branding of the company. 
  • Gives a competitive advantage since the company is offering more to consumers as well as society.
  • Increases the market share as the company becomes more reliable among consumers due to its initiatives for the overall welfare of the society.
  • Maintains a balance between the environment, society and profits to sustain the business. 
  • Facilitates sustainable living so that future generations have enough resources for the future. 

Disadvantages of Societal Marketing Concept

  • Expensive: The implementation of measures to incorporate societal marketing is expensive. For instance, the research process that goes behind creating environmentally friendly products will take a team of experts. Along with that, the creation of an idealized product will take even more funds. This makes the implementation of social marketing an expensive affair. Sometimes, environmentally friendly products are more expensive as compared to existing products.
  • ROI uncertainty: There is uncertainty in getting a return on investment for social marketing initiatives. While these initiatives have a positive impact on society, there is no surety of immediate financial returns. This makes it difficult to justify initial investments.
  • Complex implementation: The implementation of social welfare practices along with business operations can be complex. These initiatives may require investment in new technologies required for ensure the proper implementation of societal welfare practices.


What are the 4 Ps of social marketing?

The four P's in social marketing include:

1. Product: key benefits, service or behaviour change

2. Price: Cost of preventing unhealthy behaviour and adopting healthier behavorial practices

3. Place: Opportunities and the access to products, places and services

4. Promotion: Communicating the above to the target audience

About the Author
Jaya Sharma
Senior Executive Content

Jaya is a writer with an experience of over 5 years in content creation and marketing. Her writing style is versatile since she likes to write as per the requirement of the domain. She has worked on Technology, Fina... Read Full Bio