Critical Evaluation: “Marketing Does More Harm to Society Than Good”

Topics: Marketing, Marketing strategy, John Kenneth Galbraith Pages: 8 (2278 words) Published: May 6, 2012
Nottingham University Business School
MBA Programme

Critical Evaluation:
“Marketing does more harm to society than good”

Kevin Stefan Ngo (010062)

Module Title: N14M04 – Marketing
Professor: Dr. Khong Kok Wei

Word Count: 2,155 (Body Only)

Table of Contents


2.Introduction to Marketing4

3.Harm of Marketing to Society5
3.1Criticism of Marketing in the 1950s5
3.2Modern Criticism of Marketing - Branding6

4.Benefit of Marketing to Society8
4.1Product Improvement8
4.2Pricing, Distribution and Communication9



1. Purpose
The purpose of this paper is to critically evaluate the statement; “Marketing does more harm to society than good” This is done by outlining why the statement is made and then to present arguments for the relevance of marketing in society.

2. Introduction to Marketing

Marketing has been a foundational study for many business schools since the 1950s and the practice has flourished internationally due to marketing’s universal concept of achieving value for the business firms and its customers. During the 1950s a management expert named Peter Drucker lead the development of the “marketing concept”, which asserted that firms must create value for customers and see the business from the customer’s point of view. This concept of “customer orientation” depends on all functional groups of the firm to adopt this type of management thinking (Drucker, 1954). Then in 2008 the American Marketing Association defined marketing as “an organization function and a set of processes for creating, communication, and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders.”

3. Harm of Marketing to Society

In the 1950s the role of marketers in society was directly criticized by two commentators, Vance Packard and Kenneth Galbraith, who viewed the practice as immoral and self-seeking. These attacks were primary directed at the commercial aspects of marketing and more specifically at the advertising industry. In the next section of the paper we will look at Parkard’s and Galbraith views of marketing and also consider the view of Naomi Klein, who is a modern critic of how marketing harms society. 3.1 Criticism of Marketing in the 1950s

In Vance Packard’s 1957 book, The Hidden Persuaders, he describes the psychological dominance of advertising and how marketers look for the why of our behavior so that they can more effectively manipulate our habits and choices in their favor (Packard, 1957). His argument was that marketing made people buy things they did not want or purchase products that were bad for them. Packard raised two points of concern. First, if we suspect all organized communication is manipulated, then how can we know what to believe? Second, Packard deemed the manipulation of our psyches disrespectful of the individual personalities (Packard, 1957). Schools of marketing may have been the scapegoat for deceptive advertising practices because of influences by Freudian psychoanalytic concepts and techniques in business during that time. In Ernest Dichter’s Harvard Business Review article in 1947, he discusses how both businessman and psychologist are interested in what makes people tick, what motivates them, and how consumers can be molded and influenced (Dichter, 1947). Dichter’s article further mentions motivation research, marketing strategy, and a technique for influencing consumer behavior. Dichter’s psychoanalytic approaches to marketing at the time caused damage to the budding field of marketing and were heavily criticized by Packard. In Kenneth Galbraith’s 1958 book, Affluent Society, he argued that sales promotion and advertising activities motivate people to consume more without making them better off because their desires were artificially created by marketers (Galbriath, 1958). Thus, in affluent societies,...

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