Does Marketing Create or Satisfy Needs?
Marketing has often been defined in terms of satisfying customers’ needs and wants. Critics, however, maintain that marketing goes beyond that and creates needs and wants that did not exist before. They feel marketers encourage consumers to spend more money than they should on goods and services they do not really need.
Pro: With the vast amount of information available to marketers today and the emphasis on relational marketing, marketers are in more of a position to suggest needs and wants to the public. Certainly, not all consumers have the needs and wants suggested by society today. However, with the vast amount of exposure to these societal needs and wants via the media, a substantial amount of consumers will, through mere exposure, decide that they “have” the same needs and wants of others. Marketers by their efforts increase peer pressure, and group thinking, by showing examples of what others may have the same needs and wants of others. Marketers by their efforts increase peer pressure, and group thinking, by showing examples of what others may have that they do not. An individual’s freedom to choose is substantially weakened by constant and consistent exposure to a range of needs and wants of others. Marketers should understand that when it comes to resisting the pressure to conform, that individuals are and can be weak in their resolve. Marketers must take an ethical position to only market to those consumers able to purchase their products.
Con: Marketing merely reflects societal needs and wants. The perception and marketers influence consumers’ purchasing decisions discounts an individual’s freedom of choice and their individual responsibility. With the advent of the Internet, consumers have greater freedom of choice and more evaluative criteria than every before. Consumers can and do make more informed decisions than previous generations. Marketers can be rightly accused of influencing wants, along with societal factors such as power, influence, peer pressure, and social statur. These societal facotrs pre-exist marketing and would continue to exist if there was no marketing efforts expended.
Is target Marketing ever bad?
As marketers increasingly tailor marketing programs to target market segments, some critics have denounced these efforts as exploitive. They see the preponderance of billboards advertising cigarettes and alcohol in low-income urban areas as taking advantage of a vulnerable market segment. Critics can be especially harsh in evaluating marketing programs that target African Americans and other minority groups, claiming they often employ stereotypes an inappropriate depictions. Others counter that targeting and positing is critical to marketing, and that these marketing programs are an attempt to be relevant to a certain consumer group.
Pro: When marketers use their advance knowledge of specific target markets, such as minorities that preys upon the target market’s weaknesses and lack of information, then marketing can be said to be exploiting the said target market for gains. Marketers should always be aware that information is a powerful tool that has to be used responsibly and prudently. Products and services that cater to minorities that cause adverse health effects or pejorative social action(s) because of their usage need to be marketed in a socially responsible way. Just because a marketer has information on the buying habits, social styles, motivation, perception, and purchase criteria specific to a target market does not automatically permit the marketer to use this information freely.
Con: Marketers do not create social systems nor does marketing create social ills. Marketers cannot assume the responsibility for lack of personal choice, lack of information or knowledge, and the lack of personal responsibility. It is the role of marketing to deliver to the target market the goods and services they want and need. Marketing is “amoral” in its delivery of information to target markets and the target markets must decide for themselves the use or non-use of the products marketed. Using advanced research methods to uncover motivation, purchase intent, post-purchase usage, and the like is sound business practice and the responsibility to use this information that increases sales.