Societal Marketing Concept: Definition, History, Pillars, Features, Examples, and Pros/Cons

What is Societal Marketing Concept?

The Societal Marketing Concept is about making marketing decisions that prioritize both consumer desires, the company’s needs, and society’s long-term welfare. Proposed by Philip Kotler, it emphasizes understanding target market needs and efficiently delivering satisfying solutions that enhance consumer and societal well-being.

This concept, emerging in the 1970s, is distinct from social media marketing and social marketing, aligning more closely with sustainable development principles.

In essence, Societal Marketing Concept underscores the vital connection between customer satisfaction, business goals, and societal betterment. Its focus on sustainability and ethical practices encourages businesses to make decisions that benefit not only their bottom line but also contribute positively to society and the environment.

According to Philip Kotler, “the societal marketing concept believes that the organization’s task is to define the needs, wants, and interests of target markets and to achieve the coveted satisfactions more efficiently and effectively than contenders in a way that protects or enhances the well-being of the consumers and the society.”

A Brief History of Societal Marketing Concept

The Societal Marketing Concept, introduced by Philip Kotler in the 1970s, emphasizes making marketing decisions that consider consumer needs, company objectives, and long-term societal well-being. It stands apart from traditional marketing by highlighting the importance of sustainable practices and ethical considerations.

This concept emerged as a response to the shortcomings of earlier marketing approaches that focused solely on profit and consumer satisfaction. It addresses the potential conflicts between short-term consumer wants and long-term societal welfare. The Societal Marketing Concept encourages businesses to develop strategies that not only cater to customer needs but also contribute positively to society and the environment.

Related: Selling Concept of Marketing

In essence, it’s a philosophy that aims to create a balance between business success, consumer happiness, and the overall welfare of society.

Characteristics of Societal Marketing Concept

Let’s explore the six key characteristics of the societal marketing concept.

Balancing Act for Welfare

At its core, Societal Marketing Concept is all about balance. It urges companies to balance three essential factors – the desires of customers, the company’s goals, and the long-term well-being of society. It’s like keeping everyone at the table satisfied – customers, the company, and the greater good.

Sustainable Harmony

Unlike older marketing strategies (product, production, selling, etc.), which often focused solely on making profits, this concept brings harmony. It encourages businesses to create products that not only fulfill immediate customer needs but also contribute positively to society’s future. It’s like planting seeds that grow into long-lasting benefits for everyone.

Read Also: 8 Pros and 7 Cons of Marketing Concept

Ethics in Action

Ethics takes center stage here. The Societal Marketing Concept encourages companies to consider the ethical implications of their actions. It’s like having a moral compass that guides decisions, ensuring that profit doesn’t come at the expense of people and the planet.

Long-Term Vision

Short-term gains may satisfy momentarily, but this concept champions a long-term perspective. It nudges companies to look beyond quick wins and focus on strategies that ensure sustained success for both the company and society. It’s like choosing a marathon over a sprint.

Beyond the Transaction

It’s not just about a sale. Societal Marketing Concept broadens the horizon. It prompts businesses to consider their impact on the larger community and environment. It’s like caring for the ecosystem in which the business operates.

Triple Win Formula

Picture this – a win for customers, a win for the company, and a win for society. This concept aims for this triple-win scenario. It’s about creating products that satisfy customers, help the business grow, and make society better. It’s like baking a cake where everyone gets a slice.

Read Also: Selling Concept Vs. marketing Concept: 12 Differences

How Does Societal Marketing Concept Work?

There are four steps within which the social concept of marketing works. Companies adopting this marketing philosophy should follow these four steps. This illustrates how the social concept of marketing works and generates revenue for businesses.

Starting Point: Target Market

Businesses adopting the social marketing concept should start identifying the target social group they want to deal with.

Focus: Social Needs

Once the target social group is identified, businesses should identify and understand the needs, wants, and problems of that social group.

Means: Societal Marketing Tools

After the identification target social group and their needs and problems, the means or approach to satisfying these problems should be through integrating or coordinating socially acceptable marketing tools.

Ends: Profit Through Customer and Social Well-Being

The ultimate of businesses or marketers following this marketing concept should be achieving profit by providing social welfare, and well-being, and accepting social responsibility.

Read Also: The 4 Ps of Marketing Mix

Considerations of Social Marketing Concept

The social concept of marketing is based on the 3 considerations which every business adopting this strategy should consider carefully. These 3 considerations are also called the 3 pillars of the societal marketing concept.

Society (Human Welfare)

This is where the heart of the societal concept lies. Think of it as a compass guiding businesses toward a better world. It’s about understanding the needs, concerns, and aspirations of the society in which a business operates. Just as thoughtful neighbor considers the impact of their actions on the whole community, businesses consider how their products and actions affect society.

This could mean producing goods that are safe, sustainable, and beneficial for everyone – from reducing waste to supporting social causes. It’s about fostering a sense of responsibility that echoes the sentiment, “We’re all in this together.”

Customer (Satisfaction)

Imagine you’re at a restaurant, and the food not only fills your stomach but also delights your taste buds. That’s the essence of customer satisfaction. The Societal Marketing Concept emphasizes going beyond the transactional exchange.

Read Also: Types of Consumer Needs

It’s about making products that don’t just meet customers’ desires but exceed their expectations. Just like a friend who anticipates your needs before you even ask, businesses strive to create offerings that genuinely enhance customers’ lives. This leads to trust, loyalty, and a positive reputation.

Company (Profit)

Profits are like the fuel that keeps the business engine running. However, the Societal Marketing Concept introduces a unique twist. It suggests that profits should be earned responsibly – a win-win scenario.

Instead of just chasing profits without a second thought, businesses consider how they can generate income while also contributing positively to society. It’s like finding a treasure chest and ensuring that its rewards benefit everyone, not just the one who found it. Responsible profits are a result of aligning business goals with societal well-being.

Pros and Cons of Societal Marketing Concept

Let’s explore some advantages and disadvantages of the social concept of marketing.


  • Elevated Public Image: Think of it as wearing a badge of honor. Embracing the Societal Marketing Concept earns businesses a reputation as responsible citizens. People appreciate companies that care about society and the environment, boosting their image.
  • Long-Term Success: Imagine planting seeds that grow into a lush forest. Societal Marketing ensures businesses thrive not just today, but for generations to come. It’s like building a legacy that stands the test of time.
  • Competitive Edge: It’s like having a secret ingredient that sets you apart. Businesses that prioritize societal well-being create a distinct identity. Customers tend to choose brands that align with their values, giving these businesses a competitive advantage.
  • Consumer Loyalty: Picture a friend who always has your back. When businesses genuinely care about society, customers feel valued and understood. This sparks loyalty and repeat business, as customers prefer brands that resonate with their beliefs.

Read Also: Product Concept of Marketing


  • Higher Costs: It’s like throwing a grand party – it costs more, but the impact is greater. Implementing Societal Marketing often requires investments in eco-friendly processes and ethical practices, increasing expenses.
  • Complex Balancing Act: Imagine juggling multiple balls in the air. Balancing profits, customer satisfaction, and societal welfare can be challenging. Striking the perfect equilibrium demands careful planning and execution.
  • Slow Returns on Investment: It’s like planting a seed and waiting for the tree to bear fruit. Societal Marketing’s benefits, such as improved public image and loyalty, might take time to yield significant returns.
  • Resistance to Change: Think of it as convincing someone to try a new recipe. Shifting to a Societal Marketing approach might face resistance within organizations familiar with traditional profit-driven strategies.

Examples of Societal Marketing Concept

Let’s look at some real-life examples of the social marketing concept and how companies have adopted it.

The Body Shop

This cosmetics company is a pioneer in advocating for natural and cruelty-free products. The Body Shop’s commitment to eco-friendliness and societal welfare is evident through its use of sustainable ingredients and ethical sourcing. By offering products that cater to consumer preferences for environmentally friendly options, The Body Shop demonstrates its dedication to both customer needs and the greater good of society.


Adidas has taken a significant step towards environmental preservation by producing shoes from recycled plastic. This approach not only fulfills consumer demands for sustainable products but also demonstrates the brand’s commitment to reducing plastic waste. By transforming discarded materials into innovative footwear, Adidas showcases its dedication to customer preferences while contributing to a healthier environment.


Coca-Cola’s “America is Beautiful” ad is a testament to its understanding of societal values. By promoting unity and diversity through its advertising, Coca-Cola aligns its brand with the sentiments of inclusivity. This approach not only resonates with customers but also strengthens its image as a company that values social harmony and multiculturalism.


The “#WeAccept” campaign by Airbnb exemplifies the company’s commitment to inclusivity and empathy. By emphasizing acceptance and promoting diverse experiences, Airbnb goes beyond just providing accommodations. This campaign contributes to societal harmony by fostering an environment of understanding and openness, thus showcasing the company’s dedication to both customers and society at large.


Patagonia’s focus on sustainability and fair labor practices showcases its commitment to socially conscious consumers. The company’s emphasis on producing high-quality outdoor gear while prioritizing ethical sourcing resonates with customers who value responsible consumption. By transparently addressing social and environmental concerns, Patagonia builds a loyal customer base that appreciates its efforts toward a more sustainable future.

Marketing Concepts Beyond the Societal Marketing Concept

While the societal marketing concept is one of the latest addition to marketing philosophies, there is another one which evolved after this is – the holistic marketing concept.

  • Holistic Marketing Concept – It’s like putting all the pieces of a puzzle together. Businesses consider every aspect – customers’ needs, company goals, and society’s well-being – to create a complete picture. This approach ensures long-term success by connecting all parts for a thriving and balanced outcome.

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