Most marketing organizations do not intentionally work in isolation from the rest of society. Instead they find that greater opportunity exists if the organization is visibly accessible and involved with the public. As we’ve seen, because marketing often operates as the “public face” of an organization, when issues arise between the public and the organization marketing is often at the center. In recent years the number and variety of issues raised by the public has increased. One reason for the increase is the growing perception that marketing organizations are not just sellers of product but also have an inherent responsibility to be more socially responsible, including being more responsible for its actions and more responsive in addressing social concerns.
Being socially responsible means an organization shows concern for the people and environment in which it transacts business. It also means that these values are communicated and enforced by everyone in the organization and, in some cases, with business partners, such as those that sell products to the company (e.g., supplier of raw material for product production) and those that help the company distribute and sell to other customers (e.g., retail stores).
In addition to insuring these values exist within the organization and its business partners, social responsibility may also manifest itself in the support of social causes that help society. For instance, marketers may sponsor charity events, produce cause-related advertising, or create new products that are specifically intended to serve as fundraisers.
Marketers who are pursuing a socially responsible agenda should bear in mind that such efforts do not automatically translate into increased revenue or even an improved public image. However, organizations that consistently exhibit socially responsible tendencies may eventually gain a strong reputation that could pay dividends in the form of increased customer loyalty.