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. om 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.
Don’t waste your time!
Order your assignment!
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 either be a result of women being absent or a lack of contribution of women to the marketing activities. Though marketing researchers have suggested that the role of women in marketing activities is important and nowadays traces of women’s contribution can be found.
This is consistent with the concept of marketing through women’s eyes, whereby the role of women is explicitly mentioned, whereas in the traditional definitions of marketing the role of women was omitted. Marketing researchers have argued for a more critical way of thinking in marketing. This is linked to the fact that the marketing concept has changed in a way by focussing on consumer’s interests mainly, followed by economic considerations. Hereby women have contributed to the better understanding of customer’s behaviour. Catterall, Maclaran & Stevens 1997, 373 ??? 374. ) Again this is consistent with the concept of marketing through women’s eyes, since in the traditional definitions of marketing women were not (explicitly) mentioned. The definition of marketing through women’s eyes claim that in order to satisfy the needs of the consumers, women should be included. Research has shown that women’s roles in the present society have notably changed. The long-established family roles are disappearing and nowadays, more and more women work outside homes. Stevens, Maclaren ; Brown 2003, 36. ) However, a large amount of studies have confirmed “that women may face more difficulties in business than their male counterparts as a result of stereotyped assumptions about their role, and these assumptions have a negative effect on women’s management opportunities in the workplace”. (Maclaren, Stevens ; Catterall 1997, 309. ) In their article, McDonaugh ; Prothero (1997, 361. ) argue for “marketing management to take a more ecocentric view of the world”. Cuomo (1994, in Mcdonagh ; Protero 1997, 362. stated that “environmentalism and feminist issues are intrinsically linked” and both environmentalism and feminism encounter problems in the patriarchal, anthropocentric society. Moreover, by demonstrating a lack of concern, marketing is contributing to the patriarchy of society and reinforcing already existing social relations and structures. (McDonagh ; Protero 1997, 362. ) In today’s society, more and more women are enjoying education and, despite the fact that women are facing more difficulties than men, more women have entered marketing professions.
Research has shown that employing women in higher management positions will be beneficial for a company, whereas is will contribute the overall understanding of the complexity of the ecocentric challenge for business and management. In addition, when employing more women in, the management of, the marketing industry women will be fairer depicted. For these reasons, one can say that (more) women are needed in top marketing positions to break through the patriarchal society. (Mcdonagh & Protero 1997, 365 – 366. This again is in accordance with the definition of marketing through women’s eyes, which states that women should be included in the marketing process, whereas this is not included in the traditional definitions of the concept of marketing. Many parties have criticized marketers for helping to create consumption and that the strategies of the marketers maintain the good life wherein needs are never satisfied and people will continue consuming because there is always something better or newer. This seems particularly true in the case of women. It has been argued that this leads to insecurity among women.
This in turn will lead to sustaining differences in power between men and women. (Mcdonagh ; Protero 1997, 364; Catterall, Maclaran ; Steven 1997, 370 ??? 371. ) This will lead to feelings of dissatisfaction among consumers, which is in contrast with the definitions of marketing whereby it is stated that a company should aim for consumer satisfaction to reach organizational goals. Research has shown that women are often portrayed in a demeaning manner and often women in advertisement campaigns are to be goodlooking by being thin, tall and pretty.
This in turn often leads to an unrealistic self-image and dissatisfaction, among both females and males. (RoSa 2011. ) This is in contradiction with the mainstream conceptualization of marketing which, as described earlier, is aimed at satisfying the customer’s needs. Hence, in order to satisfy the needs of the customers, women should not be displayed as sex objects in advertising campaigns. A good example of this change is de marketing campaign Dove launched in 2004. Dove its vision is to be “committed to building positive self-esteem and inspiring all women and girls to reach their full potential. (Dove 2011) Dove does so by featuring women in the marketing campaign who are not considered to be of the stereotypical norms of beauty, but by depicting women whose measurements are not typical of models. This reflects the marketing concept through women’s eyes. ConclusionAt the beginning of this paper the concept of marketing was said to be a management philosophy which assumes identifying and satisfying the consumers needs is the best way in which an organization its goals can be achieved. Although this concept has been widely adopted by many companies, many companies do not completely live up to this concept.
As uttered in this paper, the traditional role of women is changing and nowadays more women are employed. However, women still face more difficulties in getting a (marketing) management position as men do, even though research has proven that employing women in marketing positions can lead to a better understanding of customer behaviour. In addition, in many advertisements women are being depicted in a demeaning manner which in turn leads, among other things, to dissatisfaction among customers.
Furthermore, marketers seem to have adopted a patriarchal way of thinking wherein women are addressed as consumers whose needs will never be satisfied. As was argued in the paper, the traditional definition of marketing does not mention the role of women, and does not take the role of women into account. But as the role of the women has substantially changed in the last decades, the marketing concept, as described from a women’s point of view, is more relevant as ever before.
All in all, one can conclude that only when employing more women in marketing (management) positions and by producing more women-friendly advertisements, the patriarchal society can be broken, resulting in a sex-neutral marketing concept. This is also in accordance with the definition of marketing through women’s eyes. Bibliography Catterall, M. , Maclaran, ; Stevens, L. 1997. Marketing and feminism: a bibliography and suggestions for further research. Marketing Intelligence ; Planning, 15, 7, p 369-376. Cambridge University Press 2011a. Feminism. URL: http://dictionary. cambridge. org/dictionary/british/feminism. Quoted: 15. 09. 011. Cambridge University Press 2011b. Marketing. URL: http://dictionary. cambridge. org/dictionary/british/marketing_1? q=marketing. Quoted: 18. 09. 201. Dove 2011. The Dove?? Campaign for Real beauty. URL: http://www. dove. us/Social-Mission/campaign-for-real-beauty. aspx. Quoted: 15. 09. 2011. Kotler, 2009. Marketing Management: Analysis, Planning, Implementation, and Control. 13th Edition. Prentice-Hall International. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, United States of America. Krolokke, C. ; Sorensen, A. S. 2006. Communication Theories and Analyses: From Silence to Performance. Sage publications. California, United States of America.
Maclaran, , Stevens, L. ; Catterall, M. 1997. The “glasshouse effect”: Women in marketing management. Marketing Intelligence ; Planning, 15, 7, p 309-317. McDonagh, ; Prothero, A. 1997. Leap-frog marketing: the contribution of ecofeminist thought to the world of patriarchal marketing. Marketing Intelligence ; Planning, 15, 7, p 361-368. NetMBA. com 2010. The Marketing Concept. URL: http://www. netmba. com/marketing/concept/. Quoted: 15. 09. 2011. RoSa 2011. Verspreiding van schoonheidsnormen. URL: http://www. rosadoc. be/joomla/index. php/kwesties/schoonheidsideaal/verspreiding. html. Quoted: 15. 09. 2011.