When I tell students about marketing, I always start with the story of our finances. Because to understand what marketing should do, you need to understand what our economic ideas are; After all, marketing is a child of the economy. Which means our financial ideas dictate what marketing should do. And in a capitalist economy like ours, that means creating as much money surplus as possible. Profit maximization seems to have become the ultimate goal for some companies; a goal that seems to justify all actions. To the utmost. For example, the world’s largest oil producing companies are currently investing billions to find new oil wells, knowing that burning the oil from these wells is guaranteed to exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius. Deliberately and willingly, these companies put short-term profits over a viable long-term future. A striking example of how important capitalist thinking has become in our economy.
Not only does it harm our environment, but it has not done the marketer much good either. Survey after survey shows that marketing seems to lose its relevance in the organization and from a social point of view, people also lose confidence in big brands and companies. Marketing is more often seen as something annoying and annoying than as something power for goodand in part, the root of this is the goal that marketing must pursue based on the current economic paradigm: profit maximization.
As long as the marketer is primarily concerned with making money for her own organization, it can not be otherwise than that she has less gaze and attention to the needs of the customer or the interests of society. It is now quite clear that the capitalist perspective has not done the marketing function very well. To the extent that some even dare to argue that the marketing function has become irrelevant.
A new economic perspective (1)
In my previous article, I argued for a marketing feature that helps society reduce consumption. Produce less, consume less. According to various experts and research, this is the only option for a viable, sustainable future. And consuming less was the norm in society for a long time. Between 14that and 18that century, consumption was limited through laws and regulations. In Venice, for example, around 1512 it was not allowed to have more than six forks and six spoons service, and as a woman in Germany of the 18.that fine or even thrown in jail for a century if you walked down the street wearing an expensive cotton scarf. Consumption was seen as something that corrupted the human mind and disrupted the social order. Consumption was dangerous and had to be limited.
From a social point of view, that perspective seemed to change during the 18’sthat century. In 1759, at the time of the emergence of the ‘theory of moral emotion’, the (unintentional) founder of our current economic thinking (Adam Smith) noticed that people were increasingly carrying unnecessary trinkets in the pockets of their coats. And that they kept buying new coats, with even more pockets to carry even more trinkets. All this in the pursuit of happiness: consumption to become happier.
Despite the changing social perspective on consumption, the consumer remained a marginal figure in (academic) economic ideas. A real change in this started only in the early 20thste century. A new capitalism, built on the development and growth of the industrial revolution, provided economic growth that was the result of increased consumption (2). Governments and policy makers began to see the importance of consumption for the growth of their economies. For example, Edgar Hoover, President of the United States (1929-1933), stated that (3): “new desires that will make room for infinitely newer desires as soon as they are fulfilled”. And it was Thatcher and Reagan in the 1970s who came up with the first contours of the free market economy. Ideas that were later embraced by Clinton, Schröder and Blair during the shareholder economy in the 1990s. Governments began to stimulate consumption to grow economies, and power came to rest with business, which got free hands to operate in the (free) market.
It is good to realize that consumption has never been in the interest of the individual, who only gets happy up to a certain level of all that consumption. In the free market economy, individuals are constantly encouraged to put together personal moments of happiness, for example by buying things: marketers know how easy it is to manipulate the individual’s desires in such a way that they can entice consumers to make approx. any purchase. With all the negative consequences for our environment as a result.
Fortunately, we are seeing a new economy emerge. An economy where shareholder value is no longer leading. We see an economy where investment funds no longer invest in harmful industries; an economy in which nature has the right to protect it; an economy that works on one new green agreement with which the government encourages and fines companies for speeding up sustainability; an economy in which companies actively de-marketing (for examples see the link to my previous article); and an economy in which consumers increasingly make conscious choices and consume less. This new economic paradigm can help marketing renew its relevance. Namely, if marketing can demonstrate that it makes a real contribution to the sustainable ambitions of the new economy, as well as to the creation of well-being and well-being for the individual.
Multiple value creation
The call to a lake responsible marketer has been around for years. Currently, this responsibility focuses mainly on making the marketing activities measurable using KPIs (often) in the online field. Measures the number clickconversions and like and then translate this back into an ROI to demonstrate that marketing has contributed to the higher economic goal: profit maximization. But if profit maximization is no longer the goal, then how can marketing justify its activities and efforts? If we redefine the concept of growth, then we must also redefine how we measure growth. Growth is no longer growth in revenue and profit, but growth in social or ecological impact. the familiar triple bottom line (People, Planet, Profit) is already known by many, but let us as marketers actually operationalize this in what we do and the goals we attach to it. Let’s also make the ROI of these components measurable and report it. Marketers can set goals such as a reduction of CO2 emissions, such as the proportion of customers who change their poor consumption to positive consumption, such as the extent to which companies and their products contribute to the well-being of the individual.
Embracing the new economic perspective allows marketers to develop new products, services and revenue models that are not based on planned obsolescence – a method in which companies realize growth by selling replacement products that are pre-made to break down quickly and cannot be repaired. Product marketers can think about how to develop products and services that are modular, easy to maintain and repair. Products that can serve as raw materials for new products at the end of their life cycle. New business and revenue models can be designed for these products; think of concepts like Product as a service (Easter).
“buy a few things that are made good by high-paid labor instead of many that are made bad by low-paid labor”
Alternative forms of organization to suit the new economy
If monetary profit is no longer the goal, companies no longer have to pursue private profits – profits that benefit only a small part of society. In such a situation, companies could also look at how they can pursue social profit. In this context, it is interesting to look at a new company structure: Not for profit organization (NPO) (4). A corporate structure where the profits are not private, but where all generated profits are for the benefit of social goals. Businesses then no longer aim to pursue as much wealth as possible for a handful of wealthy individuals, but pursue profit to realize social goals. All profits from an NPO go directly to a self-chosen social or ecological goal.
Important in the transition to a society where we consume less and pursue social goals is the shift in the marketer’s mindset from private, monetary profit maximization to developing products and services that help consumers make better and more sustainable consumer choices. A society where organizations directly and actively contribute to the creation of profit for social goals. It is in line with the new economic paradigm that we are moving towards. It helps our environment and over time it will help marketers to play an important and relevant role in society. Marketing to be proud of!
 Inspired by Frank Trentmann: How Humans Became ‘Consumers’ – The Atlantic
 The Day the World Stopped Shopping, JB McKinnon, p.83
 The Future: Six Drives Behind Global Change, Al Gore, p.159
 For more info on this see the podcast ‘A world without profit with Jennifer Hinton (in conversation)’ from the podcast series ‘An upstream conversation’