The below story speaks of lessons learned from the successful marketing of the Hummer. The lessons learned here are meant to provide guidance on how marketers can successfully market other potential products and services needing a breakthrough in the marketplace.
Lesson for Marketers from Hummers
This article frightens me to be honest. While I commend marketers for their ingenious tactics, I can’t help but wonder why ethical values seem to have dropped off the radar screen in the process. When companies have millions of dollars to spend on marketing products, they carry so much power and influence that we can no longer rely on consumer discipline and control and thus the free market to influence companies to adopt more sustainable practices. Naysayers of corporate social responsibility typically revert to a tired argument where consumers are not forced to buy products and so if more social and ecological products and services are demanded, the market will correct unethical business behaviour. But we now know that such a theory rarely holds in practice. And with very persuasive marketing campaigns mixed with limited alternatives in the marketplace, the market fails to curb private sector behaviour.
The marketers for the Hummer and a range of other products typically ignore the ecological and social implications of the product’s diffusion in the marketplace. Do these marketers ever step back and think about how their ingenious tactics, while lucrative for General Motors, convey highly questionable claims to lure the consumer so that more of the world’s most guzzling vehicles can be driven on the streets? Are these implications at all on their respective radar screens? Should they be? When people ask me whether the private sector can be an agent of change in a crippling socio-economic system, it’s these sorts of stories that paint a very bleak picture, for until the social and ecological implications warrant equal attention to the isolated objective of revenue growth and market share, the private sector will continue to be perceived as the poster child for an unsustainable society.