As regular readers know, through this blog and the forthcoming 17th edition of Essentials of Marketing (publishing in February 2020) we have taken on the mission of highlighting organizations that are marketing for a better world (#M4BW).
Our focus on Marketing for a Better World (#M4BW) continues with a look at a recent announcement by Amazon. Amazon promises to “meet the terms of the Paris climate agreement 10 years ahead of schedule.” Its recent announcement comes after some pressure from employees (Amazon Employees for Climate Justice).
This article provides an opportunity to discuss how creating shared value might actually create value. You could ask your students why Amazon is doing this? Is it good for shareholders? Why or why not? The answer is not clear, but students may not recognize that actions like this might make it easier for Amazon to recruit top talent. Many young people are concerned about the environment and want to work someplace that is doing something about it. This might also enhance Amazon’s brand and reputation among consumers. Finally, it may lower operating costs — as the initial cost of an electric van may be offset by lower operating costs (electric vehicles typically cost less to operate as compared to gas-power vehicles).
This issue might be discussed — with different emphasis — in Chapter 3 (Amazon is featured in our chapter-opening case), Chapter 11 (logistics), Chapter 12 (retailing) or in Bonus Chapter 2 (Marketing’s Link with Other Functional Areas — including human resource management).
Japan is concerned about how it will care for its elderly—especially those with dementia. The Japanese population is aging quicker than most of the world. Already, a quarter of the Japanese population is 65 or older (compared to just 15 percent of Americans). By 2025, Japan predicts a shortfall of almost 400,000 senior caregivers. Some companies are developing different intelligent agents to help fill the void.
Robots are particularly popular. Sony’s robotic pet dog Aibo, and SoftBank’s Paro, a robotic baby seal, have been shown to elicit emotional responses and yield benefits similar to live animal therapy (without all the owner responsibility). SoftBank Robotics’ humanoid companion “Pepper” recognizes faces and human emotions and asks and answers questions; seniors enjoy chatting with Pepper, which also monitors patients’ mental health for doctors and family members. Advances like these can provide health care at lower costs and make for better experiences for an aging world.
For some more background you can have your students read “Japan Lays Groundwork for Boom in Robot Carers,” The Guardian, February 5, 2018 and “Toyota, SoftBank Join Forces to Build Self-Driving Cars That Deliver Meals, Health Care,” Wall Street Journal, October 4, 2018 (subscription may be required).
This describes a demographic trend (part of context and the external market environment in Chapter 3). It might also tie into a discussion of market segmentation (Chapter 4) or product (Chapter 8).
As we point out in Chapter 3, marketing context, including the broader cultural and social environment can bring about threats or opportunities. As Millennials (those born between 1978 and 1994) have more discretionary income, they are being blamed for killing a number of different industries including cereal, department stores, beer, golf, and more (see list here). So this generation is definitely a threat to those industries.
On the other hand, Millennials buying behavior has boosted other industries, see “Coffee, travel, and skincare are among 12 industries millennials are boosting,” Fast Company, September 9, 2019. These examples can be used when you discuss SWOT (Chapter 2), the cultural and social environment (Chapter 3) or segmentation (Chapter 4).
My students frequently tell me how important beer is in their lives. Yet despite their outward proclamation, their actual drinking habits have changed and the beer industry is facing some significant headwinds. Bloomberg talks about the industry’s challenges in their article “Pour One Out for the Fading American Beer Industry“. Despite a significant increase in craft beer consumption, overall beer consumption has declined for three straight years. The carbs and calories in beer are pushing consumers toward alternatives like wine and hard liquor. Changes in consumer preferences pushed Bud Light to create their 2019 Super Bowl commercial focusing on their competitors’ use of corn syrup in their beers (by the way, this is a great example of comparative advertising). The article talks about other influences such as the legalization of marijuana which may serve as another alternative to beer, especially to the college crowd.