The 1st World Marketing Summit held in Bangladesh this past week provided a platform for sharing ideas among representatives from corporate, government and development agencies about how marketing can create a better world. Though I never received an official count, I estimate there were upwards of 3,000 marketing experts and students representing a variety of countries in Asia, the Middle East and the West. The 2 ½ day agenda was filled with over 50 presentations and more panel discussions that ranged from "Demarketing as a tool for social mobilization" to "Fostering sustainable behaviour" to "Financial innovation and its ramification for the society." Here are a few points from several presentations I attended.
Don Schultz, the father of integrated marketing communication, opened the conference program with his talk Creating a better world for emerging markets through marketing. His key point was that marketing using the supply chain approach (the 4P's of product, price, place and promotion) was designed to serve only about 20% of the world's population living in established markets. In this context marketing has performed very well in raising living standards (leaving aside its role in promoting consumerism). However, he argued that many of the assumptions that underlie marketing in developed countries are not present in the 140 countries (over 80% of the world's population) that constitute the emerging markets (for example, having stable economic and financial systems, well-developed logistical systems, and identifiable competitors who are operating legally). So the supply chain approach in which value is created by the manufacturer, baked into products, priced and distributed by sellers, extracted by buyers, evaluated by them using the value: price ratio, and then repurchased if needed does not fit the emerging market context. He called for an integrated marketing approach for emerging markets in which customer needs are superordinate over shareholder value. And he suggested as an alternative to the 4P's SIVA - Solutions, Information, Value and Access that should frame the marketing process from the customer's POV.
Gerard Hastings based his presentation on his forthcoming book The marketing matrix: How the corporation gets it power - and how we can reclaim it. He used several illustrations of corporate marketing practices that are harmful to people and societies, especially those of tobacco and alcohol companies. In particular, he noted the recent partnership between Diageo and Facebook to develop online campaigns for such brands as Smirnoff, Guinness and Baileys and wondered how such marketing will penetrate emerging markets "through their friends." [Note: research reported in the Financial Times' coverage shared that such campaigns can result in as much as a 20% increase in off-line purchases. The same article also noted Diageo's interest in using Facebook to tap into emerging markets, quoting their SVP for global marketing: “Facebook are working with us to make sure that we are not only fan collecting but that they are actively engaged and driving advocacy for our brands. We are looking for increases in customer engagement and increases in sales and [market] share.”]
Sandra Vandermerwe offered in her presentation, The future of customer focused strategies: To do well and do good, a "marketing manifesto" that included principles of honesty, integrity, equality, empowerment, longevity and education that should serve as a foundation for marketing activities.
One of my favorite presentations was by Dr. Kazi Anis Ahmed of the Gemcom Group in Bangladesh and the President of Teatulia Organic Teas that are grown in Bangladesh and are now available in Whole Foods in the US and Harrods in England [store locator]. Part of the story was how Teatulia used social media to connect with consumers. The other half was about their social programs including a cooperative in which members receive a milking cow and must pay back to Teatulia with milk and cow dung - the latter to use as the organic fertilizer in the tea garden. Members pay off the cows and own them in 2-3 years as well as any calves the cow has during that time. I am off to buy some now.
Robert Hutchinson of the Rocky Mountain Institute used his time with us to pose 3 questions he would like to have social marketers address: (1) How to market energy efficiency? (2) How to drive understanding and insistence for systemic solutions to energy problems at all levels of society? and (3) How to help drive matching of problems and solutions (that is, get information to people when and where they want it)?
Lawrence Chong moved the energy level of the group to a high level with his presentation Building purpose-led Asian companies to meet the obligations of a changing world. Talking "Asian to Asian, brother to brother," he challenged people to assess the state of poverty, saying that "Life is about the decisions we make, not the consequences." There is the Institutional Poverty of not having resources and infrastructure, but he focused them on Identity Poverty (being ashamed of one's own culture and adopting without question the beliefs and practices from other ones) and Intellectual Poverty (assuming that we already know everything and will not learn from others or that we cannot criticize our teachers, company executives or government who are presumed to be correct). He called on participants to have a purpose - "how will you shape the world?" And always ask yourself "What does it mean? Why am I doing this?" He stated that the 1% who shape the world think deeply about meaning, are restless to change the status quo, and have a strong sense of obligation to their industry, their country or the world that supersedes everything else in their lives. Judging from the ovations and cheering by the end of his talk, there were a lot of students who want to be among those 1%ers.
Marc Mathieu, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Unilever, talked about inspiring and freeing the good within (a topic we have been with Marc before and posted about from a Transformative Consumer Research conference a few years ago). He talked about marketing as a “noble craft” in which brands can be used to help us imagine what could be, drive prosperity and progress and help consumers shift their behaviors to healthier ones. In the context of the Summit, "Marketing," he said, “can stand for something new… helping us, once again, imagine what could be.” He framed this change in marketing as one of putting people first, not consumers. The new marketing mix includes empathy, serving people, instilling brands with a POV, using brand power to change behaviors for the better and improve lives, and unleashing the magic of marketing by blending marketing science with the craft.
At the closing session, a WMS Declaration was presented that will later be posted at the website (I will get a link up to that once it is in final form). The conference also launched a number of Incubators that will conduct research projects focusing on marketing solutions to:
- food security and optimum consumption
- appropriate education for enhanced livelihood options
- access to health
- waste reduction and waste management
- future of marketing
The World Marketing Summit will continue to have an annual meeting over the next 4 years in which the conversations that were started in Dhaka will be expanded and informed by the work of these incubators. If we can harness the intellectual and social capital that was developed at this first summit, and continue to feed it with the commitment, energy and enthusiasm of its participants, we will have a global community and platform from which to argue that we can, indeed, create a better world through marketing.