In this article we will discuss about:- 1. Objectives of Societal Marketing 2. Importance of Societal Marketing 3. Social Criticisms of Marketing.

Objectives of Societal Marketing:

The objectives of social or societal marketing are:

(i) To alter people’s beliefs, attitudes, and expectations, or

(ii) To induce people to take certain actions or introduce changes in their behaviour.


Like a commercial marketer, a social marketer too needs to take into considerations all the four P’s of marketing – product, price, promotion and place, to make social campaigns truly effective.

Notwithstanding its growing importance, social marketing has continued to be by and large a government concern in India. The Directorate of Adver­tising and Visual Publicity is chiefly used by the government to spread the social message.

But from time to time, it has also been collaborating with private advertising agencies, like Lintas for the Year of the Girl Child Campaign, and Ogilvy and Mather for the Adult Literacy campaign curr­ently running in the press and on T.V.

In order to understand the concept of social marketing and its useful­ness in bringing about social changes in a developing country like ours, an empirical investigation was made of the female child campaign launched by the government during the SARRC Year of the girl child (1990).


The under­lying objective was to ensure the overall development of the girl child and advocate treatment as equal to the male child. Press, T.V., radio, posters and calendars were used as media.

The study revealed the following:

(i) The discrimination of the female child is a serious social problem in the country and is a major factor responsible for problems like illiteracy, population explosion, and employ­ment.

(ii) The major areas of discrimination are health care, education, choice of occupation and share of inheritance.


(iii) The major reasons for discrimination are dowry, social customs, orthodox thinking, and religious biasness.

(iv) The campaign influenced the different sections of society diff­erently. It had very little effect on illiterates, housewives and people from the lower income group.

Viewing the campaign from the marketing angle, one finds that only advertising and promotional drives were used. The marketing approach was incomplete as the campaign did not reach the social class for which it is intended.

To eradicate such a widespread problem, a much more integrated marketing approach is required.


The needed approach to make the campaign more effec­tive is discussed below under the following determinants:

1. Determining campaign objectives:

For the development of a succ­essful social marketing programmes the objectives have to be selected care­fully. Clearly defined objectives help to plan within the given budget and also later in evaluating the success of the campaign. [The girl child campaign should have been aimed at bringing about behavioural and value- based changes, rather than cognitive change only in understanding of some­thing].

2. Market segmentation:


To achieve an effective social marketing mix, a heterogeneous market needs to be divided into homogeneous groups. [The case under study reveals that three major sections, namely illiterates, lower income group people and housewives were marginally affected by the campaign. They formed the largest and most important target group. If they had been identified, the focus could have been on them and campaigns deve­loped to influence them specially].

3. Customer analysis:

Once the target groups have been identified, it is necessary to explore their attitudes and behaviour and identify their needs. [In the context of girl child campaign, it was necessary to carry out customer research and get to know about the perceptions and needs of the three sections identified above].


4. Marketing mix:

Here the four P’s of marketing come in. The product is the social message. In this case it is to advocate equal treat­ment of the girl child at par with boys. Research pinpointed certain factors like: girl’s marriage in other family, higher education of a girl needs higher dowry to find a suitable match, etc. These backward notions have to be identified and campaigns developed and intensified to counter them.


In the context of a girl child campaign, this includes the actual cash expenditure on her, as well as energy spent and psychological costs of developing her personality. The campaign should have been to con­vince greater number of people to buy the proposed social product-proper upbringing of the girl child.



It is the communication strategy which makes a product familiar and acceptable to the target audience. [The case under study reve­als that the most popular medium was television followed by radio. These media should be continued and other media should also be used for the three identified target groups].


Strategies should include the necessary action outlets set up by the government or social service organisations which are working towards this aim.


On the whole proper monitoring and campaign effectiveness evaluation systems need to be evolved by any sponsoring agency of a social marketing campaign. These give an indication as to whether the message is reaching the target audience and to what extent people’s attitudes and values are being changed.

Importance of Societal Marketing:

Business is marketing and marketing is business. The ultimate purpose of business, from the point of view of society, is to produce products and render services for exchanging for money by which needs of man can be fulfilled and the needs of society can be looked after.

In short, it is doing of same social good. A business firm is an economic institution of society, and the businessmen and the marketers are members of society and their actions and performances are for the consumers who are also markers of society.

Therefore, a business is something which has social implication. Society-oriented marketing rather than marketing-oriented society is a basic necessity.

Henry Ford once said that he wanted to produce more cars in the interest of society than profit. Mahatma Gandhi, in his theory of trusteeship, advocated that businessmen should produce wealth for the benefit of society and preserve such wealth as the trustees of society.

Here, wealth does not mean profit but something more to include socially desirable wealth. It is society that provides the necessary infra-structure, facilities, security and opportunities for business. So the marketing policies and objectives of business should be framed in a way that would contribute liberally to the social well-being.

Social Criticisms of Marketing:


Originally, the business firms based their marketing decisions largely on immediate profit calcula­tions. Philip Kotler, one of the exponents of societal marketing concept, critically opines that a firm should earn a satisfactory level of profit no doubt but it must also assume its social responsibility as a member of society. He states that a firm’s profit must be harmonised with society’s interests and well-being.

The present-day marketing side-steps the potential conflicts between the consumer wants and long-run societal welfare. Kotler further observes that even the advanced companies in the advanced countries like U.S.A. have not reached ‘full marketing maturity stage’. Most companies did rot grasp or embrace the social marketing concept until driven to it by circumstance.

If for instance wine, whisky and brandy are injurious to health—why should the manufacturers produce them? The India-made cigarette packs are printed with a statutory warning: ‘Cigarette smoking is injurious to health’. Even the cigarettes of International brand, made in England, give health warning: ‘Smoking is a main cause of lung cancer, lung diseases and of heart and anteries diseases’.

If it be so, then why should the tobacco companies manufacture cigarettes and harm the consumers’ health. Empirical study in 1987 has shown that over 1 million people die of heart attack and cancer as a result of smoking. The consumers, because of prolonged habit, do not realise the hazards of stroking and stick to their habits.

In other words, even the well-reputed tobacco manufacturers continue to produce cigarettes to satisfy their own self-interest (i.e. profit) ate to meet the consumers wants satisfaction (i.e. smoking) with utter disregard of society’s interests.

They produce these products with what objectives? Surely, profits are not consumer satisfaction or consumer life style? Why do these companies waste resources by this unethical prac­tice?


And yet they say that they have good management. Good management for what? Even some well-known magazines like Business India or Business World give good images of these companies.

The truth is that it does not fit into the societal marketing concept. All this needs change of business policy ate change of government policy.