How can marketing help address societal challenges? – CSR > Green Marketing

Putting marketing back at the heart of societal issues? This was the subject of the discussions held during the Meetings of the French Marketing Association (AFM), on January 25 and 26, 2023.

From theory to practice. On the occasion of the Meetings of the French Association of Marketing (AFM), on January 25 and 26, 2023, researchers and teachers shared the contributions of “theory” to transform marketing practices by integrating, in particular, the notions of sustainability. and sobriety. And also explained how “renewed” marketing practices can help address environmental issues, human health or even the fight against social divisions.

Restoring a positive function to marketing

The starting point ? The need to change the perception of marketing in France, while “marketing ranks penultimate among the professions analyzed by a study by the AFM and Kantar, in May 2022, ahead of finance and advertising”, recalls Alain Decrop, professor of marketing at the Faculty of Economics, Social Sciences and Management at the University of Namur. An aversion of the French – less marked among 18-34 year olds – which is explained by the “alienating” image of marketingdeemed insincere and not respecting privacy, but also by his role “opportunistic”, very business-oriented and only serving, in the perception that the French have of it, to sell off stocks. An incarnation of capitalism, therefore.

If respondents still see positive functions in marketing – “a “informative” functionto discover new product offerings and brand information, and a transformative “function”to propose solutions to deal with climate change, for example”, explains Alain Decrop -, these are not enough to restore the overall image of the marketing practice. Thus, the number of “marketing advocates”, i.e. those who believe that marketing has a positive function, enabling information and transformation of oneself and the world, is low: 25% .

How to convince more people of the interest of marketing? Perhaps, by showing, that the practice can have its place in all parts of society… even within the public hospital.

The transformative function of marketing… in the hospital

“Marketing is increasingly present in the field of healthintroduces Marie-Eve Laporte, Lecturer in Management Sciences at IAE Paris – Sorbonne Business School. This presence may seem contradictory for the population: 65% of French (Kantar/AFM study, editor’s note) thus say that marketing gives the illusion of pleasure and well-being, without really providing it; but in health, bringing, really, well-being is essential.So does marketing really have its place within the hospital institution?

For Marie-Eve Laporte, marketing can have “a place of choice in the public hospital, in a context of the commodification of health. Author, with Patrick Gilbert, of the research article “Patient orientation in public hospitals: a marketing device as a compromise between two worlds”, Marie-Eve Laporte focused her study on observation, for 3 weeks, of the orthopedic surgery department of a major Parisian public hospital, supplemented by 43 interviews. This marketing concept of “patient orientation” would therefore represent a compromise between a “polyphony of approaches”explains Marie-Eve Laporte, that is to say between a logic of care oriented 100% on the interest of the patient – and the equality of care for all – and a logic of “desocialization” of the health system. . Worlds meet thanks to patient orientation, which would both reduce costs – and therefore save the health system – and restore power to patients who are also consumers and may want to give their opinion. and be actors“.

From sober marketing to sobriety marketing

On environmental issues, too, marketing has a lot of work to do to promote its usefulness. “How do we articulate marketing and sobriety? Should marketing be transformed to be more sober? asks Valérie Guillard, professor at Paris-Dauphine University, whose research focuses on consumer psychology, on consumer practices with regard to second-hand objects and waste. Convinced that “marketing can promote the idea of ​​sobriety”, she conducted a study and compiled 150 consumer mini-stories around sober marketing, supplemented with company interviews. First observation: a problem of semantics, shares Valérie Guillard: “Consumers respond that marketing cannot be sober, because marketing manipulates and pushes people to consume things they do not need. However, if we analyze the answers more finely, people talk more about marketing techniques – and advertising – and the product itself, with its packaging, only marketing.” For the professor at Paris Dauphine University, consumers would be “favorable to marketing if it promotes sober products and helps them to distinguish the good products to consume better”.

Simplicity is therefore also important on the supply side. While more and more brands and agencies are working, right from the design of campaigns, to reduce their environmental impact (limitation of travel, recycling of images, in particular), others are transforming their business model – or are born out of these new business models. “We identify four characteristics of more sober business modelsspecifies Valérie Guillard, who details: less frillslike a Fairphone and its phone offer based on simplicity; less speedwith in particular the release of fewer collections; less distancewith more local offers like that of La Lessive de Paris, clean detergents delivered by bike in the capital ; And fewer marketswith the development of the offers of do-it-yourself.

The value of marketing and societal issues

What about, finally, the consideration of societal issues by marketing? “The importance of value within marketing thinking and practices is well established.r”, explains Arnaud Rivière, university professor at the IAE Tours Val de Loire – Vallorem – University of Tours, who wonders, however, “faced with the evolution of the challenges of sustainable development, on the limits of the founding models of perceived value, such as those of Dodds and his cognitive and utilitarian approach to value, or of Babin and Holbrook, whose approach to the value is more experiential, affective and symbolic.” He identifies 5 “limits”, including the absence of the “altruistic” value in these models – with the exception of Holbrook – or negative externalities.

Are new models needed to fill the gaps? “Recent research on value offers a broader consideration of the beneficiaries of valuecontinues Arnaud Rivière, in particular the “actor to actor” approach, the socio-cultural approach to value or even the theory of positive marketing which consists in creating value for the company, the customer and society. The work carried out in B2B, such as that of Sweeney and Webb or Mencarelli and Rivière, has also triggered reflections on the diversity of stakeholders. But, this work is little mobilized, especially in B2C.”

For the university professor, it is now appropriate to better understand the nature and influence of the sources of creation and destruction of ecological and societal value in purchasing decisions, by developing psychometric approaches to better appreciate these sources of value; by examining the relative influence of ecological and societal sources of value, compared to egocentric sources of value, in purchasing decisions and post-consumer sentiments and by analyzing from a longitudinal and cultural perspective, the relative impact of benefits and ecological costs on consumer behavior”. Which of ecology, inclusion or price ultimately weighs the most in the act of purchase?

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