As Easter is almost upon us, I am left pondering a recent discussion I had with my brother—a professor at SUNY in Canton, NY—in which we were discussing the blogs I wrote to help people perfect their marketing efforts. During our discussion, my brother said… “it’s great that you are helping people make their marketing efforts more successful, but what if being successful in marketing was good for your company, but bad for society?”
Here’s what he is talking about. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, as we go up the needs pyramid, our needs change from the basic survival type stuff to self actualization kind of stuff (technically speaking of course). My brother is not worried about the people at the bottom of the needs pyramid as they don’t have any money to buy anything but the basics. But, what about people on the other rungs? Do we have a moral obligation to warn them about the consequences of overbuying? That they should be buying what they need and not just focusing on what they want? Basically, he was suggesting a marketing/advertising disclaimer similar to the types of disclaimers on packages for cigarettes and alcohol. Buy at our own risk. Or at least, he is suggesting a disclaimer you see at a casino…play responsibly…so in this case…buy responsibly.
I see his point. Would we be in the economic and financial meltdown mess right now if with every purchase we are reminded that over buying is bad? I am not sure. Is the emotional desire to keep up with the Jones stronger than the rational mind required to heed the warning in the disclaimer? I think not. Research has shown that consumers making decisions from the emotional rather than rational part of their brain. So if that is the case…would the disclaimer work?
So I guess I need some help from others in the marketing world. Are we our brother’s keeper when it comes to marketing?