How Marketers Can Initiate Change
Do you fear change? Or do you embrace it?
To avoid stagnancy, organisations must constantly adapt. But with that comes discomfort, uncertainty and a great deal of effort.
While marketing is often wrongly perceived as simply identifying market opportunities and communicating with customers, modern marketing has the capacity to effect great change.
Today, we're examining the role marketing plays in initiating change on an organisational, consumer and societal level. We'll first explore the recent uptick in ethical marketing practices, before looking at the way marketers and marketing agencies can achieve rapid results for businesses.
You may have already heard about ethical marketing. Need a refresher? Read our Ethical Marketing Guide.
This relatively new term describes 'how companies market their products or services not solely based on their value to the customer, but on their value to social and environmental causes.’ (Compose.ly)
Through emphasising social responsibility and ‘doing the right thing,’ marketers can help companies to create an authentic brand identity that consumers want to get behind.
Ethical marketers seek to influence consumer behaviour for the right reasons, by appealing to their social and environmental values.
Ethical marketing practices can also directly influence consumers’ values by generating their interest in a particular cause, leading to social change.
Further, ethical marketing can effect change from within an organisation. By changing internal practices to reflect consumer preferences, businesses can attract new customers.
You can see then how ethical marketing is a circular rather than linear process. Ethical marketing brings about change by updating internal practices to influence consumer values and behaviours, which in turn inform internal practices... and so on.
Through advocating for important causes, companies are able to influence public perceptions and inspire social change, while strengthening their own brand.
Why it's Good Business to Adopt Ethical Marketing
It goes without saying that embracing ethical marketing is ‘the right thing to do’.
Historically, corporations have wreaked havoc upon the environment and international communities, however directly or inadvertently. Consumers are growing increasingly wary of businesses that make little effort to contribute to the planet and its people with net-positive effects.
But beyond being virtuous, there’s no denying that ethical marketing offers significant financial incentives to companies. The Guardian reports that the market for ethical products including food, drinks, clothing, energy and eco-travel has reached an all-time high of £41bn compared to the much smaller £11.2bn in 1999.
There are plenty of ethical marketing examples that we admire.
While the shoes themselves are stylish, ethical marketing is a huge reason for the brand's popularity. is so popular. Would we really be as enamoured with these canvas espadrilles if not for the feel-good factor that comes with buying a pair?
By supporting ethical claims with action, companies can create closer relationships with their customers, garnering loyalty and repeat business. While they are initiating positive change then, businesses can also reap the benefits of these changes.
The Rise of CMO
Effecting change through marketing is not just about being ethical, however.
Marketing-oriented businesses are consumer-oriented businesses. While traditionally, Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) sat on the lowest rung of the C-suite, there is now a trend towards CMOs rising to become CEOs, demonstrating an organisational shift towards marketing as a driver of change.
Some high-profile examples include Mark Lollback, who, having been CMO of McDonald’s, became CEO of GroupM. Mercedes-Benz USA also promoted VP of Marketing Stephen Cannon to CEO, while Audi USA named CMO Scott Keogh as its President (with the responsibilities of a CEO). (Forbes)
Some argue that the prevalence of data insights we can now access accounts for this strategic shift. Explaining the change, a Forbes article states: "Cloud computing meant that marketing officers who understood, followed and worked to get ahead of the changes in consumer demand—and who invested time and budget dollars in data analytics—began to clearly understand their customers.
Rather than taking an educated guess about what consumers want, marketers now have a wealth of insight to draw from, meaning we no longer need to question what appeals to consumers. Marketers are the ones who can dissect consumer insights and discern the relevant course of action for the business.
Given that customers are at the heart of any business, it stands to reason that those who are closest to them - marketers - have an important role to play in informing organisational changes in direction.
Finally, it's important to recognise that change requires action. It’s easy to plan and theorise, but getting stuff done is how change happens.
Often, marketing agencies can complete work and bring about change quickly while collaborating with their clients. As Trapica outlines: "Agencies help their clients execute marketing strategies on time by seeing projects through from planning to execution. They have years of experience and can use that experience to minimize any roadblocks in marketing processes."
Agencies have access to a wide pool of talent and expertise. While in-house marketing teams are the absolute defenders of their brand and have an unrivalled level of consumer understanding, they can often benefit from the agility that working with a marketing agency brings.
Working with several clients often in multiple sectors, marketing agencies are exposed to a wide range of consumer trends, meaning they can bring in-house marketing teams the latest relevant insights.
They are also used to working reactively, meaning marketing activity can happen quickly. With well-ordered data analysis, so too can the meaningful change that companies rely upon to see continuous results.
Effecting change takes time, insight and understanding. Change is scary, but it’s also what helps companies to stay successful and avoid growing stagnant.
Want to effect change at your organisation? Talk to Moment to learn how we can collaborate.