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The Societal Marketing Concept: A Comprehensive Guide to Better Business Practices

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The Societal Marketing Concept is an essential strategy for businesses to achieve long-term success while addressing the needs of their customers and the environment. This powerful approach ensures that companies create products and services that not only satisfy customers’ desires but also take into account the well-being of social well-being, as a whole. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the ins and outs of the Societal Marketing Concept, its benefits, and how to implement it effectively for maximum impact.

Definition of societal marketing

Societal marketing is a powerful and heartfelt approach to marketing, where businesses seek to balance their customers’ needs, profitability, and social and environmental welfare. This transformative concept of societal marketing was first introduced by renowned marketing scholar Philip Kotler in the early 1970s, as a response to the growing concerns about the negative impacts of business practices on society and the environment.

Societal marketing is “a marketing concept that holds that a company should make marketing decisions by considering consumers’ wants, the company or organization’s task and requirements, and society’s long-term interests”

(Kotler & Zaltman, 1971)

Embracing societal marketing means businesses prioritize not only their customers’ satisfaction but also the well-being of their communities and the planet. This approach reflects a deep commitment to making a positive difference and fosters an emotional connection with customers who share the same values.

Source: Kotler, P., & Zaltman, G. (1971). Social marketing: an approach to planned social change. Journal of Marketing, 35(3), 3-12

The Societal Marketing Concept: The Three Pillars

societal marketing, societal marketing concept
  • Customer Orientation: The first pillar of the Societal Marketing Concept involves identifying and addressing the needs, wants, and preferences of your target customers. This means researching your market and understanding your audience to create products and services that cater to their specific desires. Additionally, this pillar emphasizes the importance of providing exceptional customer service and fostering long-lasting relationships with your customers.

  • Societal Focus: The second pillar emphasizes the responsibility of businesses to contribute positively to society. This includes considering the environmental, social, and economic impacts of your products and services, and making adjustments to minimize negative consequences. By adopting sustainable practices, supporting local communities, and promoting ethical conduct, your business can contribute to the greater good and build a strong reputation.

  • Profitability: Lastly, the Societal Marketing Concept recognizes the importance of maintaining financial viability. While it’s crucial to focus on customer needs and societal welfare, companies must also ensure they are generating sufficient profits to sustain their operations, invest in growth, and reward their stakeholders.

The Benefits of Embracing the Societal Marketing Concept

  1. Enhanced Brand Reputation: Companies that adopt the Societal Marketing Concept can enjoy an improved brand reputation, as they demonstrate their commitment to the welfare of both customers and society. This can lead to increased customer loyalty, brand advocacy, and positive word-of-mouth.

  2. Increased Market Share: By addressing the unique needs and desires of your target audience, your business can attract more customers and capture a larger share of the market. Additionally, companies that actively contribute to society often benefit from favorable public opinion and increased visibility.

  3. Long-Term Sustainability: Focusing on the triple bottom line of people, planet, and profit ensures that your business remains sustainable in the long run. By balancing financial success with social and environmental responsibility, you can maintain a competitive edge while making a positive impact on the world.


Marketing strategy for Societal marketing: Best Practices

  • Conduct Thorough Market Research: Understand your target audience and their preferences by conducting in-depth market research. This will help you create products and services that genuinely cater to their needs and desires. _

  • Collaborate with Stakeholders: Engage with stakeholders, including employees, suppliers, and the local community, to identify opportunities for improving your business practices and making a positive societal impact. _

  • Monitor and Measure Impact: Regularly assess the social, environmental, and economic effects of your business activities, and make adjustments as needed to ensure continuous improvement. _

  • Communicate Your Commitment: Showcase your company’s dedication to the Societal Marketing Concept by highlighting your initiatives and achievements in marketing materials, social media, and other communication channels. _

History of Societal Marketing

Our journey begins in the early 20th century, a time when businesses were primarily product-focused. Companies concentrated on manufacturing high-quality goods, with little consideration for their customers’ wants and needs. As time went by, the marketing landscape began to change. The Great Depression and the Second World War led to increased competition and a shift in consumer behavior, forcing businesses to reevaluate their strategies. It was during this period of transformation that the Marketing Concept emerged, marking a critical turning point in the history of marketing.

The Birth of the Societal Marketing Concept: A Response to Social Concerns

The 1950s and 1960s saw rapid economic growth, leading to a significant increase in consumerism. As disposable incomes soared, people began to spend more on products and services that satisfied their desires. However, this rise in consumption brought with it a wave of social and environmental concerns. Pollution, resource depletion, and societal inequalities became pressing issues, causing many to question the role of businesses in contributing to these problems.

In response to these growing concerns, the Societal Marketing Concept was introduced in the early 1970s by marketing scholar Philip Kotler. This groundbreaking approach sought to address the social and environmental consequences of business practices by integrating societal and human welfare into marketing strategies. Kotler’s pioneering work laid the foundation for a new era of marketing, one that went beyond merely satisfying customers and focused on the greater good.

The Journey Continues: The Societal Marketing Concept Gains Traction

As we ventured into the 1980s and 1990s, the Societal Marketing Concept continued to gain momentum. Companies worldwide started to recognize the importance of balancing customer satisfaction, profitability, and societal welfare. This shift in mindset was fueled by growing public awareness of environmental issues, social activism, and the rise of ethical consumerism. Businesses that embraced the Societal Marketing Concept found themselves at the forefront of change, setting an example for others to follow.

Into the New Millennium: The Societal Marketing Concept Today

Fast forward to the present day, and the Societal Marketing Concept has never been more relevant. In a world plagued by climate change, social unrest, and economic inequality, the need for businesses to adopt responsible practices is greater than ever before. As consumers increasingly demand transparency and accountability from the companies they support, those that fail to recognize the importance of the Societal Marketing Concept risk being left behind. _

Today, the Societal Marketing Concept serves as a guiding light for businesses, both big and small, as they navigate the complex landscape of the 21st century. By adopting this approach, companies can not only secure their place in the hearts and minds of their customers but also contribute to a more sustainable and equitable future for all.

The history of the Societal Marketing Concept is a testament to the power of innovation and the human spirit. Born from a time of great social and environmental challenges, this transformative approach has reshaped the way businesses think about their role in society. As we continue on this journey, the Societal Marketing Concept will undoubtedly remain a driving force for change, inspiring companies worldwide to embrace a brighter and more compassionate future.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of societal marketing


  1. A Stronger Bond with Customers: Societal marketing helps businesses form deep, emotional connections with their customers. By addressing social and environmental concerns, companies showcase their genuine care for the well-being of people and the planet, winning customers’ hearts and loyalty.

  2. Positive Brand Image: Engaging in societal marketing initiatives can greatly enhance a company’s reputation. Consumers and stakeholders alike appreciate businesses that go the extra mile to make a positive impact, leading to increased trust and admiration.

  3. Long-term Sustainability: Societal marketing promotes a balanced approach to business, considering the triple bottom line – people, planet, and profit. By adopting sustainable practices, businesses can ensure their long-term success and growth, contributing to a better future for all.


  1. Higher Costs: Societal marketing initiatives may require significant investments in time, resources, and money. Smaller businesses, in particular, might find it challenging to allocate funds for these causes without compromising their financial stability.

  2. Risk of Backlash: Companies engaging in societal marketing must be careful to avoid accusations of “greenwashing” or insincerity. If consumers perceive their initiatives as mere publicity stunts, it could damage their reputation and trustworthiness.

  3. Complex Decision-Making: Balancing customer needs, profitability, and societal welfare is no easy feat. Businesses may face difficult choices in determining the right course of action, and there’s always the risk that some decisions may inadvertently alienate certain stakeholders.

Despite these challenges, the advantages of societal marketing often outweigh the disadvantages. By genuinely committing to social and economic planning and environmental responsibility, businesses can create lasting value, touch people’s hearts, and contribute to a brighter future.

Societal Marketing Concepts 

The process of societal marketing involves a series of meaningful steps that businesses take to genuinely address social and environmental issues while catering to their customers’ needs. Here’s a heartfelt guide to help you embark on this transformative journey:

  1. Identify Your Purpose: Begin by deeply understanding your company’s core values and defining your purpose. Reflect on the social and environmental issues that resonate with your brand and how your business can genuinely contribute to addressing these concerns.

  2. Know Your Customers: Engage with your target audience and learn about their needs, desires, and expectations. Uncover the social and environmental causes that matter to them, and identify how your business can make a positive impact on their lives.

  3. Collaborate with Stakeholders: Forge partnerships with stakeholders, including employees, suppliers, local communities, and NGOs. Collaborating with these groups can provide valuable insights and resources to help you develop effective societal marketing initiatives.

  4. Develop and Implement Initiatives: Design and execute initiatives that address your identified social and environmental concerns while aligning with your customers’ expectations. Ensure your efforts are genuine, transparent

C-B-E Model (Co-create, Build, and Engage Model) for Societal Marketing

societal marketing, societal marketing concepts

Embracing the Co-create, Build, Engage (C-B-E) model can provide a powerful framework for implementing the Societal Marketing Concept. By fostering collaboration, creating shared value, and fostering genuine connections, businesses can make a positive impact on society, the environment, and their customers. Let’s explore this heartfelt approach to societal marketing concepts:


Begin by involving your stakeholders, including customers, employees, suppliers, and community members, in the process of identifying social and environmental issues that resonate with your brand. Encourage open dialogue and co-creation, allowing all voices to contribute to shaping your societal marketing initiatives. This collaborative approach ensures that your efforts are genuinely aligned with the values and expectations of those you serve and support.


With a strong foundation of co-created ideas and goals, it’s time to build your societal marketing initiatives. Develop programs, campaigns, and partnerships that address the social and environmental issues you’ve identified. Focus on creating shared value, ensuring that your initiatives benefit both your business and the wider society. This may involve adopting sustainable practices, supporting local communities, or advocating for social justice.


Once your societal marketing initiatives are in place, engage your audience with genuine, transparent communication. Share your stories, progress, and impact through various channels, such as social media, newsletters, and events. Invite your customers and stakeholders to join your journey, encouraging their active participation in your efforts to make a difference.

By implementing the Societal Marketing Concept through the C-B-E model, businesses can forge deep, emotional connections with their customers, make a positive impact on society, and create lasting value. In a world where compassion and sustainability are more important than ever, this heartfelt approach can guide businesses toward a brighter future.

5 Societal Marketing campaigns with Examples

Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign

Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign, launched in 2004, has been a game-changer in the beauty industry. By challenging conventional beauty standards and promoting body positivity, Dove has touched the hearts of millions of people worldwide. This ongoing campaign features real women with diverse body types, ages, and ethnicities, celebrating beauty in all its forms and empowering individuals to embrace their unique selves.


Patagonia’s “Don’t Buy This Jacket”

In 2011, Patagonia, the outdoor clothing and gear brand, launched a bold and unexpected campaign called “Don’t Buy This Jacket.” This campaign encouraged customers to think twice before making a purchase, urging them to consider the environmental impact of consumerism. Patagonia’s commitment to sustainability and reducing waste has struck an emotional chord with environmentally conscious consumers who appreciate the brand’s genuine efforts to protect the planet.

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Source: Patagonia

TOMS Shoes One for One Model

TOMS Shoes has been making a difference in the lives of millions through its innovative One for One business model. For every pair of shoes purchased, TOMS donates a pair to a child in need. This simple yet powerful idea has resonated with consumers, creating an emotional connection with the brand and fostering a sense of community and shared purpose.

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Source for the Campaign

Always, a leading feminine care brand, launched the #LikeAGirl campaign in 2014 to challenge gender stereotypes and empower young girls. The campaign aimed to redefine the phrase “like a girl” as a statement of strength and confidence, rather than an insult. This inspiring initiative has touched the hearts of countless people, encouraging them to stand up against gender-based discrimination and believe in their potential.

Colgate’s “Save Water” Initiative:

Colgate’s “Save Water” campaign, first introduced in 2016, encourages people to turn off the tap while brushing their teeth to conserve water. This simple yet impactful message has resonated with environmentally conscious consumers who appreciate Colgate’s commitment to preserving our planet’s most precious resource. The campaign has successfully raised awareness about water conservation and inspired individuals to take small actions that collectively make a big difference.

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Colgate Save Water Initiative

These five real-life societal marketing campaigns showcase the power of businesses to drive positive change, raise awareness, touch people’s hearts, and make a lasting impact on society and the environment.

Difference between societal marketing and social marketing

Societal marketing and social marketing, although they share a common goal of creating a better world, are two distinct and heartfelt approaches to marketing. Both aim to foster positive change, but they differ in their focus, target audiences, and strategies. Let’s explore these differences with an emotional lens:

Societal Marketing

Societal marketing is a holistic approach where businesses balance their customers’ needs, profitability, and social and environmental welfare. Companies embracing the objectives of societal marketing commit to making a positive impact on society, the environment, and their customers’ lives, while maintaining a successful business.

This approach is about fostering an emotional connection with customers by demonstrating genuine care for their well-being and the world we live in. Societal marketing initiatives often involve sustainable business practices, community engagement, social responsibilities and philanthropy.

Social Marketing

On the other hand, social marketing focuses specifically on influencing individuals’ behaviors for the greater social good. This approach uses traditional marketing techniques to create and promote campaigns that encourage positive behavioral changes, such as adopting healthier lifestyles, conserving energy, or supporting social causes.

Social marketing aims to touch people’s hearts and minds, inspiring them to take action and make choices that benefit both themselves and the broader society. This approach often involves collaboration with non-profit organizations, government agencies, and community groups to address pressing social issues.

In summary, while many examples of societal marketing center around businesses making a positive impact on society and the environment through their operations and marketing efforts, social marketing focuses on inspiring behavioral change among individuals for the greater social good. Both approaches share a deep commitment to making a difference and fostering emotional connections with their audiences.

Difference between societal marketing and corporate social responsibility?

Societal marketing and corporate social responsibility (CSR) both reflect a business’s heartfelt commitment to making a positive impact on society and the environment. However, these two compassionate approaches differ in scope, focus, and integration with the company’s marketing and operational strategies. Let’s delve into the emotional essence of these differences:

Societal Marketing

Societal marketing is an approach where businesses balance their customers’ needs, profitability, and social and environmental welfare. Companies embracing this societal marketing concept advantages prioritize not only their customers’ satisfaction but also the well-being of their communities and the planet.

Societal marketing integrates social and environmental concerns into a company’s marketing strategy, fostering an emotional connection with customers by demonstrating genuine care for their well-being and the world around them. This approach often involves creating and promoting products or services that align with these values, as well as engaging in initiatives that benefit society and the environment.

Corporate Social Responsibility

On the other hand, corporate social responsibility (CSR) encompasses a broader range of a company’s ethical, social, and environmental obligations beyond its marketing efforts. CSR reflects a business’s commitment to operating responsibly and sustainably, considering the interests of various stakeholders, such as employees, customers, suppliers, and local communities.

CSR initiatives can span a wide range of areas, including employee welfare, community development, environmental protection, and philanthropy. Companies engaging in CSR strive to make a positive impact on society and the environment through their business practices, which often go beyond their marketing efforts and encompass all aspects of their operations.

In essence, societal marketing is a focused approach that integrates social and environmental concerns into a company’s marketing strategy, while corporate social responsibility is a broader commitment to ethical, sustainable, and socially responsible business practices across all aspects of the company’s operations. Both pathways share a heartfelt dedication to making the world a better place and fostering emotional connections with their stakeholders.


In conclusion, the Societal Marketing Concept offers a powerful approach for businesses to achieve long-term success while making a positive impact on society. By balancing customer orientation, societal focus, sustainable development, and profitability, companies can create lasting value for their customers, communities, and the environment. By embracing this transformative strategy, businesses can enjoy enhanced brand reputation, increased market share, and long-term sustainability, ultimately contributing to a better future for all. So, why wait? Begin your journey towards a more responsible and successful business today!


What is an example of societal marketing?

Here are 5 Examples: Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign, Patagonia’s “Don’t Buy This Jacket”, TOMS Shoes’ One for One Model, Always’ #LikeAGirl Campaign, Colgate’s “Save Water” Initiative

What are the 3 primary components of the societal marketing concept?

Customer Orientation, Social Focus and Profitability are the three primary components of Societal Marketing

What are some examples of companies that have successfully implemented the Societal Marketing Concept?

Major brands like Patagonia, TOMS, and Ben & Jerry’s have all embraced the Societal Marketing Concept. They have integrated social and environmental responsibility into their core business strategies, resulting in loyal customers and a strong brand image.

Can small businesses also benefit from the Societal Marketing Concept?

Absolutely! Small businesses can leverage the Societal Marketing Concept to differentiate themselves from competitors, build a loyal customer base, and foster a positive reputation in their communities. By focusing on customer needs and societal welfare, small businesses can create a strong foundation for both long run benefits in-term success.

How does the Societal Marketing Concept differ from traditional marketing?

Traditional marketing primarily focuses on customer needs and profitability, while the Societal Marketing Concept integrates the social welfare side of society into the equation, resulting in a more holistic approach to business success and growth. By adopting the Societal Marketing Concept, companies demonstrate their commitment to not only meeting customer demands but also making a positive impact on the world.

Is the Societal Marketing Concept only relevant for consumer-facing businesses?

No, the Societal Marketing Concept is applicable to businesses across all industries, including B2B companies. By focusing on the triple bottom line, companies can foster strong relationships with clients, suppliers, and other stakeholders, ultimately driving long-term success and sustainability.