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Have You Started Marketing in 3D?

Ardi Kolah is a London-based marketing expert and author specializing in strategy and communications.

A few years’ ago I was in conversation with the brilliant UK marketing guru Peter Fisk about how important is it to be able to measure the return on investment from corporate social responsibility (CSR) and the impact it can have on a company’s bottom line.

According to Peter Fisk this is a big and important question because companies – large and small – have a greater purpose in society than simply to maximise profits or returns to shareholders. And this is much more than a bit of CSR but rather it’s about changing the reference points within a company or organisation that may have been wedded to the idea of delivering a return to shareholders as the primary reason for its existence.

Whilst making a financial return is important, shareholders as well as customers and clients also expect businesses to play a positive role in society that’s functional, commercial, social and environmental.

Fast forward to today and there’s a growing body of global research that shows how companies with a higher purpose than simply financial or competitive success enjoy a stronger brand differentiation in their market segment and are much more profitable as a result of marketing in 3D.

Here in the UK, Kantar Media’s Premier TGI study reveals that tapping into 1.7m “ethical consumers” can reap enormous financial rewards as this customer segment represents 11% of all upmarket consumers and is growing fast.

Such a potent mix of affluence and strong ethical views make these purchasers a highly attractive and important customer and client segment for marketers to target.

Premier TGI is an annual survey of 6,500 adults (<20 year old) in the UK who have either a household income or savings and investments of £50,000+ or are in the top AB social class.

From this survey, respondents were:

  • 55% more likely than the average upmarket adult to re-use empty items like bottles and jars
  • 46% more likely to make an effort to reduce the use of gas and electricity at home
  • 65% more likely to think social responsibility is the most important motivating factor for doing business with a company, indicating that their ethical views transcend both their personal and professional lives
  • 58% more likely to stream internet radio than the average upmarket consumer
  • 22% more likely to regularly watch TV online and more than 1m make an online purchase at least once a month or more
  • 33% more likely to be influenced by comments posted online by other internet users;
  • 31% more likely to post comments about their own experiences when it comes to restaurants, holidays and new technologies
  • 49% more likely to want to pay to access premium content behind the pay wall of newspaper and magazine websites.

This presents a massive opportunity for companies to use social marketing to reach these savvy consumers in a way that could dramatically accelerate sales of goods and services that accord with their ethical values.

What this means in practice is that companies will need to examine their investments, resources and even adopt a different business model, rethinking economic value creation as the total value ‘pie’ created for all stakeholders including these more ethically driven segments.

“By increasing the size of the pie and cutting it up in a way that supports long-term mutual value-creation everyone benefits – it’s a win: win,” says Peter Fisk.

In this light, CSR doesn’t become a nice to have or add-on but becomes the way companies and organisations do business. Of course it should be measured, but it can now be done through economic cash flow models that have additional drivers and deliverables to the old econometric models.

What gets measured matters. And if it becomes the purpose of the business, then it really matters.

It’s about seeing marketing in 3D.

Ardi Kolah is the author of High Impact Marketing That Gets Results, available from Kogan Page.

For more marketing insight from Ardi Kolah, click here. 

Image: Media-Saturn-Holding-GbmH (Creative Commons)

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