Consuming the earth



Hastings G (2013) Consuming the earth. Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, 5 (1), pp. 115-123.

Purpose - The promise of marketing is great: a responsive, consumer-oriented business philosophy that uses a wide selection of carefully honed tools to provide excellent service in perpetuity. The reality, however, is far removed from this idyll. This paper seeks to examine the power of corporate marketing and to question its role in our health and wellbeing. Design/methodology/approach - By drawing on diverse examples that include the tobacco industry, food resources and consumption, and sustainability, the paper considers the impact of corporate marketing and the harm it may be doing. An historical perspective is included for these examples. Findings - In the hands of corporate capitalism marketing has done and continues to do great harm - whether it be the cigarette which kills one in two of its most loyal customers; the seemingly benign focus on need satisfaction that intensifies inequalities because (of course) it depends on the ability to pay; or the burgeoning recognition that our marketing-driven consumption behaviour is completely unsustainable. Originality/value - These increasingly pressing problems demand that marketing be rethought to ensure that it genuinely meets the needs not just of consumers, but also of citizens and the planet. The job of marketing should be to enhance the capacity of the product or service to bring about these ends, not just to secure the sale. Its sole purpose should be to help us all make better, more responsible consumption decisions.

Denial; Harm; Health; Interdependence; Marketing history; Public health; Rethink; Sustainability; Sustainable development

Journal of Historical Research in Marketing: Volume 5, Issue 1

Publication date31/12/2013

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Professor Gerard Hastings

Professor Gerard Hastings

Emeritus Professor, Institute for Social Marketing