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Tuesday 15 April 2014

Are Marketers creating value for consumers? A Q&A Session with Ben Voyer

Ben Voyer, Marketing professor and MEB Coordinator at ESCP Europe London Campus has posted this question on the MEB’s Facebook page

Here is the transcript of the Q&A Session with Ben Voyer and members of the ESCP Europe community.

Ben Voyer : Marketers are creating values for companies. But are they creating value for consumers? What do you think?

Margherita Lillus : As long as they support real activities such as being green, sustainable, improving the transparency within the company, lowering the prices, improving the efficiency at all levels of the firm trying to understand customers and their needs for real and so on... And not only talk/communicate about all that yes, they are.

Ben Voyer : Good point! Philip Morris, the tobacco maker, infamously spent in 2000 around 110 million € on advertising to communicate about 85 million € spent on corporate social responsibility activities. In this case, it also raises an interesting question: can corporate social activities compensate for selling products that have a negative long term value for consumers (i.e. diseases associated with tobacco consumption)?

Giulia Buzano : I believe corporate social activities increase the value for consumers (and communities, in general); however, these activities don’t match well with tobacco companies, as smoking is probably the main cause of preventable death. Their marketing is therefore very tricky and can easily destroy value for consumer and be misleading (e.g. “light” cigarettes can be associated with a less unhealthily product in consumers’ mind). Therefore, many governments have banned advertising in print media and are imposing specific packaging features.
Concerning your original question, I believe that companies focused on sustainability are creating value both for themselves (Long term strategy!) and consumers (e.g. Unilever has developed detergents that require less water when you rinse your clothes).  In addition, they increase consumers’ value by educating them to a more green behaviour and approach.

Ben Voyer : Good point Giulia! Regarding the tobacco industry, some countries have even banned the use of logos, colours, etc. and imposed standard packaging, fonts, etc. for all brands. Australia has taken this kind of measure. In your second example, companies contributing to educating customers to environmental issues are creating value not only for consumers, but also for society, which is even more beneficial.

For more information on this topic check out Ben Voyer’s post on the Creativity Marketing Research Centre blog: Marketers are creating value for companies. But are they creating value for consumers?

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