Newly published research contained in the Special Issue of the Journal of Marketing features fourteen global author teams focused on the topic of Better Marketing for a Better World.
Edited by Rajesh Chandy (London Business School), Gita Johar (Columbia University), Christine Moorman (Duke University), and John Roberts (University of New South Wales), this Special Issue brings together wide-ranging research to assess, illuminate, and debate whether, when, and how marketing contributes to a better world.
The Special Issue is built on the thesis that marketing has the power to improve lives, sustain livelihoods, strengthen societies, and benefit the world at large.
It calls for a renewed focus by marketing scholars on how marketing can contribute to a better world and argues that scholars should examine the impact of marketing on outcomes beyond just what is good for the financial performance of firms.
Better Marketing for a Better World emphasizes marketing’s role in enhancing the welfare of the world’s multiple stakeholders and institutions and asks marketing to engage with many of the world’s most important challenges, including persistent poverty, inequity, illiteracy, insecurity, disease, climate change, pollution, and human trafficking, among many others.
Editor Rajesh Chandy, the Tony and Maureen Wheeler Chair in Entrepreneurship and at London Business School where he is also the Academic Director of the Wheeler Institute for Business and Development, notes, “This Special Issue represents a breakthrough in the academic study of marketing. Articles in the Special Issue bring scholarly scrutiny to the impact of marketing on the world around us. And they point to the wealth of possibilities for further study of how better marketing can help create a better world.”
The articles in the Special Issue offer rich insights on how to use the power of marketing for good across four key topics:
- On sustainability and climate concerns, articles address the adoption of eco-friendly pesticides in rural China, the use of high-end durable products with longer lifecycles, the design of programs to help consumers adopt alternatives to plastic bags, and the labeling of ugly produce to reduce food waste.
- Considering economic and social empowerment, researchers document – through randomized controlled trials – how volunteer marketing consultants can help drive growth among entrepreneurs in Uganda, how popping the illusion of financial responsibility among consumers can improve personal savings, and how marketplace literacy training can improve personal well-being among subsistence consumers in India and Tanzania.
- Turning to health and well-being, researchers examine the health costs of commonly used variable compensation systems for salespeople, the effectiveness of anti-tobacco policies and ads, improvements in organ donation registration from low cost, easy-to-scale marketing interventions, and the unintended risks of seeking to promote health by portraying humans as machines.
- Finally, insights into prosocial giving include how to increase donations by offering people an opportunity to say something about who they are, using predictive models to identify how to best manage different types of donors, members, and member donors, and using price promotion tools to increase donations.
By seeking solutions that look for win-win outcomes, Editor John Roberts, the Scientia Professor of Marketing at the University of New South Wales, Sydney Australia, notes, “As the discipline tasked with understanding the customer and external stakeholder-facing activities of the organization, marketing has a unique potential to improve the alignment between the economic activities of firms and other providers with the outputs that consumers and other members of the society value. That potential is not always realized and the papers in this Special Issue offer several important ways this achieve this.”
The power of these articles lies in the way in which they bring theory and insight to very real and pressing problems.
As Editor Gita Johar, the Meyer Feldberg Professor of Business at Columbia Business School, notes, “Some of the proposed interventions are small nudges and some are large-scale programs, but they are all innovative, implementable, and most importantly, scalable. These papers collectively illuminate the theory-practice interface needed to advance societal goals.”
Editor in Chief Christine Moorman, the T. Austin Finch Sr. Professor of Business Administration at the Fuqua School of Business, Duke University, heralds this Special Issue for the field and points to the increased focus on using marketing for good.
She notes, “The field is posed to serve the world in a way we have not yet witnessed. The 239 submissions we received for this Special Issue, the number of Ph.D. students involved in these projects, and the overall interest across marketing faculty around the world points to momentum for the creative exercise of envisioning how marketing can contribute.”
To that end, the editors suggest marketing scholars and practitioners look at pressing social issues and ask themselves two simple questions:
- Does this topic belong in marketing?
- How could you frame this topic as a marketing question?
From these questions, other questions will emanate: Why is the outcome important to marketing? Does marketing exacerbate the problem? Does marketing have the potential to provide a solution to or an explanation for the problem?
They close the editorial with this statement: We can do more. We can do better. Let’s work together to develop better marketing for a better world.
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