Marketing’s Social Role Change in the Last 50 Years


Marketers have foresight for what the customers may be in dire need of and use every available opportunity to avail these commodities in the market in good time so as to avoid inconveniencing the customers. Customers get to know of the commodities in the market through extensive marketing by marketers. Consequently, various manufacturers have come up with the rewarding ways with which they have to conduct their sales (Kotler 2008, p. 139). They also have had to device proper ways of communicating so that their businesses can develop (Joshi 2005, p.1). Customers have to be identified, kept and satisfied because the customer’s involvement is very central in any business venture. This work is going to delve into the arguments for and against the position that the social role and function of marketing has fundamentally changed during the last 50 years. Marketing is very essential for it keeps the economy growing. People have to continue consume to keep the Gross Domestic Product of a country growing.

Social and cultural roles of marketing have greatly changed within the last 50 years. The forces responsible for these changes are people’s lifestyles, customs, religious or cultural beliefs, cultural norms and changes in attitude (Andreasen, 2006 p.68). These forces are very pivotal in determination of what, where, how and when people deem it fit to buy products (Brus 1973, p. 67). These forces are both advantageous and disadvantageous to marketers (Pride & Ferrell 2007, p.62). Changes in population components have substantial bearing on the marketing. People of different ages, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, married or single, having stable sources of income or not and of course the educated and the illiterate will have different consumption habits because of dissimilar preferences. This scenario has drastically changed the landscape of marketing. This means that marketing has to be structured to address the likes, aspirations and tastes of different people in the society in respect to their clothing, food, housing, transport, communication, recreation, education and health services (Shaughnessy 1984, p.68). Pertaining to population and how it impacts on marketing, there is concern that there is overwhelming increase in the population of the older consumers. These older people critically need good medical care, they have to have unlimited access to recreational services, they have a strong desire to erect their own homes rather than renting, they also known to engage in both domestic tourism and game watching. Becomes of old age and self esteem related issues, they use a lot of skin care products to avoid the stigma associated with wrinkling and becoming pale in complexion. These trends present the manufactures with myriad business opportunities. Nevertheless, a manufacturer has to convince potential consumers why they feel there products have to be bought as opposed to others-a reason to market products. It is reported that there are 82 million Americans aged below 19 years. This accounts for 28 per cent of the entire population. These children have different racial inclinations, living arrangements and social stratification issues. The citizens of the United States come from different cultural backgrounds. This presents marketers with a lot of challenges as each and every one of their needs have to be met. The population of people going to the US as legal and illegal migrants keeps on increasing at an alarming rate. This presents a lot of challenges to marketers who have to keep on employing new strategy in the way they do their marketing.

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Organizations corporate social responsibility and ethics in marketing have also greatly changed in the last 50 years. Organizations have obligation to the welfare of the society. In marketing, social responsibility entails management geared towards monitoring, satisfying and exceeding the interested group’s expectations. Wishing away stakeholders aspirations for responsible objectives, waters down customers trust. This may call for government interventions. Actions by corporate organizations that may elicit feeling of discontent from customers have effects on company’s sales volume (Andreasen 2006, p.157). This may call for legal action for the offence committed. As a matter of fact, an organization may face legal action if they decide to sell to consumers, substandard goods, and poisonous foodstuffs and under packed commodities. Companies that engage in legal operations enjoy good publicity and therefore their sales plummet. Companies that are socially responsible enjoy the good will of the communities around them. This makes the people from the neighboring community to be drawn towards them. This can help increase their volume of sales. Social responsibility has been used extensively by companies to broaden their client base after they have won the heart of many by their activities. Organizations that are socially responsible endeavor to attain the state of “marketing citizenship” where they channel their energy towards fulfilling economic, legal, ethical and philanthropic social requirements of the society. Companies that are aware of the basic requirements of the customers and factor them in their daily undertakings have shareholder orientation (Randall 2005, p.1). Shareholder orientation in marketing encompasses aspects of customers, competitors, regulators and deeper understanding of the desires of the stakeholders. This should include the communities and the special interest groups. Many of the organizations today are always under pressure to engage in activities that appear to be having interest of the stake holders- customers. This has been seen in instances where law firms organize free legal clinics to the remandees, or the members of successful law firms engaging in pro bono activities as a way of giving back to the society. They give back to the society and at the same time strategically creating awareness on the activities of the respective law firms that they work for- a form of marketing. It is very easy for a mother who wants to file for tax returns to engage the services of the law firm that funds the upkeep of orphaned children in their neighborhood. Moreover, a hospital that conducts free breast cancer checkups for the women and men and awareness about it, will be very popular with many people. This may contribute to increase in the number of patients that visit their clinics, hence increase in overall sales and turn over. Apart from the desire by the companies to break even, they have to make sure that they help in job creation to the residents and produce goods and services to the community.

McNabb (2005, p.128-143) says that marketing as an entity of business has changed for the last 50 years. Developing relationship with the customers has be prioritized as opposed to acquiring bigger client base and taking advantage of presence of economies of scale. Role of marketing function has been changed due to unbundling of the marketing industry into production, transmission and distribution entities. Retail competition has occasioned separation of marketing function (Joshi 2005, p.2). For contextualization of marketing function in public utility, it is pertinent that one gains a deeper understanding of the nature of demand of utility products and services. Utilities group customers into three categories: residential, commercial and industrial. In utility service load, commercial, residential and industrial groups have different load pattern. Changes in production and industry organization have for the past fifty years had effects on marketing leading to revolution (Cherington 1920, p.99). Changes in consumption conditions are difficult to quantify statistically. Other ways of taking measurements other than statistical means are quite often misleading. Indication of nature of changes in consumption having direct effect on mechanism of distribution is worth counting to make it more definite. Marketing remain very relevant as the population of people in a system increases. This is supposed to cater for the diverse needs of the members of the population. Marketing’s major preoccupation is the provision of goods and services whenever they are not available. Increase in population, apart from posing major challenges to the marketers, present them with opportunity for growth because there will be many people who will be willing to buy their goods.

Theory of commodity fetishism was authored by Karl Marx. People have a lot of admiration for particular goods. These goods hold positions in certain people’s lives comparable to the reverence that religious accord to god. It gives a description of a situation in which alienation is the order of the day. Marx criticizes capitalist commodity production when he positions the principle of historicism on board. The theory is a critique of self consciousness. Theory of fetishism perceives brands that are being created as creation of desires. These brands create an ideal and illusionary world- not the real world. With blooming of fashion industry, new cloth lines have to be created to keep the industry up and running. A major worry to these companies is the fear of overproduction of their commodities hence factoring element of fear into product production. Fetishism postulates a state of illusionary peace in the world which idealistic. Consumers therefore become docile and passive. Consumers develop an appetite for false needs, a creation of capitalist fundamentalist commodities instead of going for the initial real commodities: freedom creativity and happiness.

Commodity fetishism is witnessed in illegal trades like the trafficking of human organs, tissue theft, global trafficking of kidney from living donors and the use of executed prisoners as sources of organ and foreign capital (Hughes 2002, p.33). commodity fetishism actually creates a desire that customers do not really need. It has seen the mushrooming of branded shirts and bags. Under commodity fetishism, marketing creates a desire for what customers really need. Therefore marketing has not really changed. In capitalism marketing has always been inclined to creation of desire; however, content has slightly changed with time. Creation of desires has always made customers to purchase commodities.

Huggan (2001, p.1) says fetishism played and still play pivotal role in colonialist fantasism. Commodity fetishism is related to exoticist representation. It is the current day exoticist mystique. It is witnessed in workplace, production, transmission and consumption of the post colonial literary works and cultural publications (Mundy 2004 p.1). They are also witnessed in marketing of marginal products which are orientalism, neoprimitivism and native superiority. India has continually been identified by westerners as the latest example of metropolitan consumption.

In global media debate (n.d), fetishism of commodity in the society is manipulated by packaging, promotion and advertising. Goods are branded to disguise people from knowing the relationship between things, human beings wants, needs and emotion. Disguising or masking is done to conceal features of the goods and obscure the story of those who made them and how they prepared them. Classes were identified by conspicuous consumption habits. Factory proprietors become rich by unfair pricing not dependent on market forces. Marx wanted to show the shortcomings that there are in commodity production by the manual laborers. Increased fetishism of commodities has encouraged branding thereby attaching value to masked commodities. Qualities and emotions of human beings have become attached to commodities hence brand personality. By branding, marketers inflate the prices of goods which never use to happen before. Companies never produce brands but instead produce images of their brands. Companies do not take part in manufacturing. They are instead said to be doing marketing instead of manufacturing. The strategy works well for these companies as they continue to race towards weightlessness an insinuation that whoever has the least number of employees owes the least and therefore has few employees on their payroll. This make them come up with powerful images as opposed to producing real products. Such companies are thought of by rival firms to be success story.


Social cultural forces have had there share in changing the marketing landscape for many years. Population structure and increase in population have offered opportunities to those willing to supply in such markets. Just like has been witnessed in population structures of different countries, the population of the young and the old outdoes the population of the middle aged. These extremes offer great opportunities for manufactures that have a knack for business especially when they do their marketing properly. As reiterated early on, the manufactures have also devised ways of knowing what the consumers want than trying to diversify their client base as it used to be done traditionally.


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