The Value of Marketing to Society
In developed economies, society benefits from marketing by having more choices. The ideal function of the marketing process is to meet customers' needs at a profit. Good marketing strategies design products and services according to what the market says it wants. Customers should need little (if any) push to purchase products and services that meet their needs. In free-market economies, consumers can influence their available product choices. Consumers do this through their purchasing behavior, which causes companies to adjust what is produced.
Marketing can lead to competition among similar or substitute products that meet the same need. When companies compete with each other for market share, average prices tend to come down. This may prevent consumers from paying too much. Competition also prevents consumers from being subject to large price increases from one or two suppliers. In a competitive market, companies are more likely to be driven to offer products that meet needs most efficiently.
Some companies employ marketing strategies that allow broader consumer access to products and services. For example, Forbes.com notes that discount mass merchandisers offer lower-cost versions of high-quality products. Segments of the population that earn less may be able to afford more. Those of lower socioeconomic status may also have access to knock-offs of products only upper-class segments can afford. This increases these population segments' perceived quality of life. Lower socioeconomic segments can also take advantage of some of the benefits behind these types of products. Marketing also makes access to global products easier.
Although some forms of marketing can be uncomfortable, consumers gain ready access to product information. Advertising makes consumers aware of products they might not know about. Promotional activities, such as coupons, sweepstakes and contests, may provoke consumers to try different products. A need that may have been previously unfulfilled can be matched up with a product more quickly. Consumers do not have to spend as much time or money locating product information on their own. Even though they may pay for it in the cost of the product, consumers do not have to extend as man financial resources upfront.
Product development is a side effect of marketing that benefits society. As companies conduct research, discoveries about unmet and unrecognized needs surface. Market research leads to advances in technology and increased product capabilities. Services also benefit from market research, because companies find out what satisfies and dissatisfies consumers. As companies make adjustments, consumers receive better value and more options. For example, a low-cost airline may offer stretch seating for an incremental cost. A quick oil change outlet may begin to offer car washes at a reduced price.