We have seen software upgrades and new versions launched each time in the market. But what about the marketing itself in new versions?!? The book ‘Marketing 3.0’ by the marketing ‘guru’ Philip Kotler, Hermawan Kartajaya and Iwan Setiawan precisely illustrates this aspect in depth. Kotler has written several books full of marketing concepts explained with relevance to other fields like strategy, planning and general management. Kotler has written books on marketing rules, tips, mistakes to avoid and strategic applications. The current book is the third version of the ‘marketing revolution’ in the current business world.
Marketing 1.0 was focused on products. The era then shifted to focus on customers and consumers in Marketing 2.0 after which the present focus on value-centered marketing or ‘ethical’ marketing captures attention in Marketing 3.0. Not to say that the latter has eliminated the importance of the former but the priority has definitely changed. The book attempts to change the way marketing is perceived. Chapter 2 comprehensively explains the evolution of marketing for the past period of over half-century.
What’s so Good about Marketing 3.0?
Earlier companies were more focused on selling products, making profits and enhancing features. Needless to say, that markets have shown increasing significance of customer preferences in the later years. Products and features are a pre-requisite because customer expects to see them in her purchases. However, the preferences of customers have given rise to more customized and tailored products than earlier. Today one can exercise online options to include or exclude certain features in a product. This trend is seen to transition into an era (supposed to be the current one!!) where ethics form the top priority in marketing. OK…products and features are necessary, customers are important BUT the most important contemporary issue is how to meet ethical standards. We have not completely landed into this era but are in the process of doing so. Hence Marketing 3.0 can be seen as the coming ‘near’ future of marketing destiny. One needs to note here that ethics and ethical standards cannot be delineated or restricted. One company may consider -developing top quality products to be ethical, another company may consider compromising with quality but selling at low prices to poor people as ethical, another firm may not consider these aspects but just not bribing in its business as ethical, and so on. The authors combine the three eras beautifully to reflect the future of marketing as destined in shaping organizational culture, in creating products and services that inspire and are inspired by the values of customers.
If we take one step ahead and dissect the above sentence, it is clear how the three versions of marketing are inclusive and not ignored in any manner-
future of marketing as destined in shaping organizational culture…(Marketing 3.0), in creating products and services… (Marketing 1.0) that inspire and are inspired by the values (Marketing 3.0) of customers…(Marketing 2.0)
Another facet….Companies can choose to upgrade their ‘marketing platform’ or stay/stuck in the past. Apple may still consider Marketing 1.0 to be relevant in that its products have differentiating and unique features to make better sales and hence Apple may not give utmost importance to ‘human spirit’ of Marketing 3.0. Who can enforce that? Kotler observes the trends of companies and sees that the new era is emerging out of the customers who are growing more knowledgeable. Hence they are more responsible for their purchases and want to ensure safety of their families at a smaller context and of the world at a larger context. Kotler also examines companies like SCJohnson that started as a parquet flooring company in 1886 and is today the maker/seller of household products all over the world. The book gives examples of using products that save energy and natural resources and in turn are safer for the environment. The ‘human spirit’ part of Marketing 3.0 cannot ignore the green marketing part as this deals with the spirit of protecting the planet and the human race. The book brings out the other side of the coin by emphasizing the ethics, attitude and culture of the company.
The authors thus bring out several hats that marketers, traders, partners, companies, employees and consumers could wear in the process. Sometimes, the marketing hat could be related to pitching features and selling products alone. At others, the hat could shift to that of understanding user needs and concerns thus creating customer segments. The Marketing 3.0 is a combined effort of the participants and not of just the company in business to provide healthier and more nutritious choices at a reasonable price to a larger segment of the population.
The book addresses values from the stakeholder point of view as to stress the need for companies to be value-based to get positive partnership with all stakeholders – customers, employees, vendors, suppliers, partners. All these bring us to a set of questions- Will human spirit and ethics in marketing give way to new laws and regulations? Hence will Marketing 3.0 be much more complex than expected? Under what circumstances are customers prone to change their priorities between products, own preferences and ethics? How can the human spirit be imbibed into a commercial lifeless organization? What are the possible effects on public policies, advertising, healthcare and interpersonal/ interorganizational relationships? Will a new kind of relationship emerge between the organization and its customers (a new term like interpersorganizational= interpersonal+ interorganizational)? Does it mean that the companies are shifting from a price-based competition to socio-based competition? Will the mission, vision and values of the company itself undergo a drastic change in the process? A study of these aspects of marketing will enable to peek into it deeper and better for obtaining a first-hand insight into the marketing future. Finally, the book could be used in a course like Business Ethics to show a new ideal world of marketing for future professionals.