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1.7: The Value of Marketing

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  • What you’ll learn to do: explain how marketing creates value for the consumer, the company, and society

    For some people, marketing has a reputation as being fluffy, superficial, and light. Certainly a lot of marketing activities have earned that reputation over the years. One goal of this course is to help you understand the important role marketing plays in business and everyday life in today’s globally connected world.

    Are we arguing that marketing is an inherently good thing? No, we’re arguing that it is an inherently useful and potentially powerful thing.

    Is marketing a matter of life-and-death importance? Generally, no.

    Does marketing save lives? Actually, sometimes it does.

    The specific things you’ll learn in this section include:
    • Explain the benefits consumers derive from marketing activity
    • Explain the benefits companies and organizations derive from marketing activity
    • Explain the benefits society derives from marketing activity
    • Describe how an understanding of marketing makes people more informed as both consumers and participants in society

    Marketing can mobilize attitudes and behavior around a common vision. It is a powerful medium for expression, creativity, and sharing across an increasingly global society. Marketing can be an agent of change in the diffusion of ideas and innovation. It can also be self-serving and manipulative, playing on human fears and insecurities to separate people from their money and from one another.

    With all this in mind, what value does marketing provide?

    Left: A smiling Santa Claus smokes a cigarette. A card in front of him reads, A Gift of Pleasure: My spirit, the Spirit of Christmas-giving, is abroad in the land. A gift that expresses that spirit, and brings pleasure to every home, both great and small, is rare indeed. Such a gift, my friends, is LUCKY STRIKE. Santa Claus. Below Santa are the words Luckies, a light smoke of rich, ripe-bodied tobacco. It's toasted. Right: Some bright red shoelaces are laced through a white background to form a loose silhouette of Africa and the words Lace up Save lives. A caption reads Designed to fight AIDS in Africa. The Nike logo with the superscript RED is in the bottom corner.
    Left: Lucky Strike ad, LIFE Magazine, 1936. Right: Ad promoting Product Red, a licensed brand that partners with companies like Nike, Apple Inc., Converse, and others to raise funds to eliminate HIV/AIDS in Africa. Fifty percent of the profits generated by Red products is donated to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS.

    Marketing remains an active, dynamic field because it serves useful purposes for organizations, individuals, and society.

    Marketing Can Benefit Organizations

    As explained earlier in this module, organizations use marketing to identify, satisfy, and retain customers. Marketing helps businesses know which problems to solve and which products, services, and experiences to offer. Effective marketing drives product improvements and determines the terms of profitable transactions. Marketing efforts help organizations build and sustain productive relationships with the people and groups they serve. Without effective marketing, companies become islands that retain no meaningful connection to their customers. When an organization loses its audience, eventually it ceases to exist.

    Marketing Can Benefit People

    Individuals are not just targets of marketing; they can also be beneficiaries. Marketing helps people navigate the world around them to find the things that address their wants and needs. Marketing is responsible for the creation of products that delight people, improve their productivity, and alter their quality of life. In recent years, marketing has contributed to the pervasive information now available to help people make advantageous consumer choices. Marketing reduces the friction and hassle around transactions. Imagine, without marketing you would never know that many of the products you need exist, let alone how to find them.

    Marketing and Society

    Because marketing is grounded in commercial, profit-seeking behaviors, some would argue that society is a net loser rather than a net winner when it comes to marketing influence. However, effective marketing helps create the conditions for healthy competition and market efficiency, where companies and consumers communicate and exchange mutual value.

    Like virtually any tool, marketing can be used for noble purposes or nefarious ones. Regardless, it has a pervasive presence in the modern world. As you learn about marketing and begin to practice its principles, you will see more clearly how it influences your daily life. You will identify opportunities where marketing skills can help you become more effective at achieving your personal and professional goals. With a foundation in marketing, you will become a more informed consumer of the products, services, experiences and ideas you encounter throughout your life.

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