Feminist Perspective on Marketing

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A feminist perspective on the marketing concept

IntroductionThe aim of this paper is to debate the concept of marketing from a feminist (woman) perspective. The paper will start by defining the mainstream concept of marketing and its history, followed by a short introduction to feminism. Next, the mainstream conceptualization will be a critically reviewed and the differences between the traditional definition and the concept of marketing through a woman’s eye will be debated.

Marketing conceptMany have tried to define the concept of marketing and when one combines these definitions, one can describe the concept of marketing approximately as a management philosophy whereby identifying and satisfying the customer’s needs is the best way in which an organization its goals can be achieved (Kotler 2009; NetMBA.com 2010; Cambridge 2011a.) Nowadays, this concept has been widely adapted by companies all over the world, though, this has not always been the case. (NetMBA.com 2010.)

After the industrial revolution until the early 1920’s, companies produced according to production concept, hereby the company would ask itself if it was able to produce the product and if it could produce enough. This concept also holds that the products were inexpensive and widely available. At the end of the 1920’s organizations began to practice the selling concept, which holds that companies should not only produce the product but also convince the customers to purchase the product. Little attention was paid to the question if the product was actually needed, the key questions here were if the company could sell the product and if enough could be charged for it. In the 1950’s companies started to adapt a more customers-oriented view of producing and shifted from a make-and-sell philosophy to a sense-and-respond philosophy. (Kotler 2009, 59.) Companies started with conducting market research do identify the needs of the consumers and the companies started to realize that satisfying these needs would ensure long-term success and profit. Even though these concepts prevailed during different period of time in history, firms nowadays may still practise (a combination of) these concepts. (NetMBA.com 2010; Kotler 2009, 58 – 59.)

The rise of feminismCambridge University Press (2011b) defines feminism as “the belief that women should be allowed the same rights, power and opportunities as men and be treated in the same way, or the set of activities intended to achieve this state”. Feminism has a long history and can roughly be divided into three different time periods. Each of these periods dealt with differing aspects of the same feminist issues. The first traces of feminism can be found in the late 19th century and beginning of the 20th century. During this first wave the women’s right to vote was the main issue. The beginning of the women’s liberation movement in the 1960s is perceived as the second wave and this wave was mainly concerned with legal and social equality for women. In the 1990s, the third period started which can be seen as a continuation of the perceived failures of second-wave feminism. (Krolokke & Sorense 2006, 1 – 21.)

Women in marketingThe concept of marketing through women’s eyes can approximately be described as all efforts taken by a company to meet the needs of male and female consumers in a sustainable way to reach the organizational goals. This includes employing both men and women to ensure all needs being satisfied.

As the feminist movement has significantly grown over the past century, it seems reasonable to introduce a feminist perspective in marketing. This has also been argued by marketing researchers. (Catterall, Maclaren & Stevens 1997, 374 – 375.) However, the role of women in marketing activities is discussable, both in the internal situation of companies as well as in marketing campaigns of these companies. In the history of marketing, only few women are mentioned and or profiled. This can...
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