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Socially Responsible Marketing and Consumer Behaviour

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Marketing
Wordcount: 3304 words Published: 8th Feb 2020

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One of the most important concepts which have recently come under the debate in the contemporary corporate world is that of sustainable marketing and sustainability in the business process modelling. The notable researchers and authors such as Villarino and Font (2015) have often discussed the importance of sustainability marketing in the contemporary competitive landscape of business. For example, according to Bartkus (2012), various phases of marketing have been witnessed by time and in each individual phase of marketing, various concepts, theories and postulations have been made in order to understand the process of marketing in detail. Out of these phases of marketing, the concept of sustainability has been a quite important issue which has been discussed in the contemporary research literature pertaining to the domain of marketing and strategic business management. In the early years of the decade of 1970s, various issues relevant to the domain of ecology emerged as a completely new and different paradigm in the marketing strategy. In the decade of 1980, the social issues that their pace and emerged along with the discipline of ecology (Pearce, 2018).

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This ultimately suggests that a reassessment of the problems and challenges in the contemporary world resulted in an evolution of the environmental issues all the green issues within the domain of marketing strategy. In the contemporary corporate landscape, the concept of sustainability in the marketing strategy has gained a prime focus and attention of the contemporary scholars and researchers. This particular report attempts to discuss the same concepts namely those of sustainability in the marketing strategy in the light of the academic research literature in the domain of marketing and consumer behaviour. The case organisation which has been selected for the purpose of this analysis is Wal-Mart which operates in the retail industry in many different countries of the world. The report starts off with brief background with company and the industry in which the company operates. It then sheds light on the mission of the company and the value it proposes to its customers. The incorporation of the social and environmental objectives into the marketing mix of the company has been discussed which is then followed by the application of the concept of consumer behaviour and ethical theories.

Background of the Company and Industry

Wal-Mart commenced its operations in the year 1969. The company which is headquartered in the United States of America is currently the biggest retailer and the biggest business in the world as of 2018. The industry in which the company operates is characterised by many important players such as Amazon and Alibaba of the American and the Chinese origin respectively (Corona, 2009). However, the globalised and the international business strategies of Wal-Mart have led it to become the industry leader in global retail. In the year 2005, the company set off on a new mission, namely that of incorporating social and environmental sustainability objectives into its marketing mix (Ballantine, 2019). Since the year 2005, the organisation has worked extensively in the domain of sustainability in the marketing strategy in order to gain a strategic competitive advantage in the industry in the long-term time frame (Corporate.Wal-Mart.com, 2018).

Mission of the Company

The mission of the company is to provide the finest quality of products and services to the rational consumer at affordable rates. Consequently, the market proposition of Wal-Mart is that of the best quality of products and services at a cheaper price.

Value Proposition of the Company

The value proposition of a company is quite eclectic and rich in the sense that the company aims to offer the best quality of products to the customers. However, in the wake of its recently launched sustainability program, the company now strives to offer the best quality products to the customers, at an affordable rate, using sustainable supply chain strategies.

Incorporation of Social and Environmental Objectives into the Marketing Mix

As it has been stated earlier, Wal-Mart has recently decided to incorporate the concept of sustainability, both the social and environmental, into its marketing mix. For this particular reason, the company has merged various objectives of both the social and environmental nature into its marketing mix. This idea is being discussed in the following lines using the various theories and models of sustainability in the marketing mix of the conventional business organisation as per the academic research literature.

Social Objectives

Over the course of a number of years, the social objectives of Wal-Mart have improved in order to accommodate the incoming marketing mix elements as per the defined time frame. There are many elements of business modelling which encapsulate the concept of the social objectives and the integration of these social objectives and the marketing mix of the conventional business organisation. For example, one of the main factors or elements of the business model of the conventional business organisation – one which Wal-Mart has considered proactively – is that of the supply chain management practices. Wal-Mart has currently vowed to implement green supply chain management practices as an initiative of its corporate social responsibility drive (Johnson, 2018). The marketing mix of Wal-Mart has recently transitioned towards corporate social marketing which effectively deals with campaigns pertaining to the change in the behaviour of the customer. At the same time, experts in the domain of strategic business management such as Patrick (2018) have commented that this initiative of Wal-Mart to implement the green supply chain management practices in its business model may as well pave ways for the company to explore the arena of cause marketing because the cause of environmental damage to the planet is troublesome so much so that the leadership of the conventional business organisation at an international level must make some soar decision for a better future.

This suggests that the organisation under consideration has eventually transitioned towards responsible business practices. The authors such as Meeks and Chen (2011) have maintained that Wal-Mart has adopted some discretionary business practices and has made certain investments which facilitate some increasing social causes including but not limited to the increased health risk posed to the children of the third world countries and the damage caused to the environment by pollution and carbon emission. This, according to the authors, has gradually altered the face of marketing of the company acquired beautifully and has defined some unique and differentiated business and marketing practices which are based on the society. Although, as evident from the low stock price and rating of Wal-Mart in the initial years of this decade, the marketing function of the business has experienced a tremendous pressure to be inclusive and functional in the overall strategy of the company, the company, in general has emerged to be the market leader not only in terms of the profitability and strategic sustainability which it has acquired over the years but also in terms of its endeavours to support, facilitate and implement strategies in order to meet the objectives of its corporate social responsibility initiatives.

Environmental Objectives

There are three important objectives which pertain to the environmental consideration and the perspective of the marketing mix of the company. The first and perhaps the most important objective of the company is to be supplied absolutely by renewable energy. This means that the company intends to supply its stores completely by renewable energy. The second objective of the environmental conservation is that of creating zero waste. This policy of the creation of zero waste has, today, inspired hundreds of other small, medium sized and large business organisations to minimise their carbon emission and waste. The third and another most important objective with a consideration of the environment is the offering of only those products which attempt to sustain the resources and the environment in which the humans live on this planet.

Currently, Wal-Mart has integrated its environment objectives with its marketing mix. The company has decided to work with as many as 100,000 of its suppliers in order for them to reduce their environmental impact and to ensure that they remain committed to the cause of environmental sustainability in the long-term strategic of a sustainable environment. Experts in the domain of strategic business management and environmental sustainability such as McGee (2018) have argued that the gigantic size and scope of the business organisation makes it imperative for the research scholars to who believes that a change will be observed in the retail industry whenever the company wood intend to make that change. Worth mentioning is the fact that the global supply chain and international marketing strategy of the company gives it legitimate power to compile the other companies operating in the same industry to follow this pursuit of environmental sustainability in the industry.

Authors such as Makower (2015) have suggested that Wal-Mart can potentially convince the manufacturers of trucks and vehicles to manufacture the same in a manner of a sustained energy efficient operation. The company can also direct the other large manufacturers to make their products environmentally friendly in nature. For example, a very important partner of Wal-Mart is General Electric switch manufacturer’s light bulbs. Wal-Mart, in the wake of its recent corporate social responsibility and environmental sustainability initiatives, can potentially convince General Electric to optimise the way General Electric manufactures lights. There is virtually no limit for Wal-Mart, according to Makower (2015), in terms of what it can do for the environment in the long-term strategic time frame all thanks to its sheer size and globalised operations.

Application of the Concept of Consumer Behaviour and Ethical Theories

Sustainable Consumer Behaviour

The perspective on the consumer behaviour as discussed in the theory of traditional marketing limits the discussion to the point of purchase which the consumer makes following the consumer purchase decision. However, the concept of sustainable consumer behaviour necessarily dictates that the consumer behaviour and the perspective of sustainability are interlinked primarily due to the fact that the concept of sustainability influences the entire consumer purchase decision. This is the reason why the consumer purchase decision must be understood as a whole in terms of sustainability in the marketing mix.

The contemporary research literature has pointed out some notable forms of sustainable consumer behaviour which are equally applicable in the case of Wal-Mart due to the fact that the company operates in the retail industry. Material simplicity, ecological awareness, self-determination and personal growth are some of the fundamental forms of a sustainable consumer behaviour. According to the notable researchers and authors such as Kumar et al. (2012), the consumer behaviour has recently transitioned towards an awareness of the environment around the same. Hence, there are many interesting theories which attempt to explain this particular transition or shift in the consumer behaviour.

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The first theory is the theory of rational explanations which fundamentally emphasizes upon the economics of consumption of a sustainable nature. The theory makes certain propositions as to how the rational consumer of conventional business organisation weighs up the functional benefits in comparison with the affordability of a particular product or service. The second theory is the theory of psychological explanations which outlines the various attitudes and psychological behaviour demonstrated by the rational consumer. The third theory is the theory of sociological explanations. According to this theory, the consumer behaviour is not explained only by the economics or the psychological perspective on the same. Rather, it is also explained by how the rational consumer of a particular product or service perceives the impact with that particular product or service has on the society in general.

Ethical Theories

At the same time, the ethical theory also points about an evident disparity in the recent interest in corporate social responsibility and environmental sustainability of the conventional business organisation, and the interest of the stakeholders of the same. In the ethical theory, two extreme positions have been highlighted which conventional business organisation may as well imagine in order to act in the industry ethically. These two positions are those of ethical absolutism and ethical realism.

It is worth mentioning that Wal-Mart has attempted to optimise its operations as well as strategic paining so much so that it is now on the verge of finding out that perfect balance in order to satisfy the needs of its stakeholders and its responsibility towards the environment and the society at large. However, according to the officials of the company, there is still a very long way to go before the company can potentially achieve its strategic business objectives of blending the social and environmental objectives with its marketing mix.


The crux of the discussion which has ensued in the preceding text is that, Wal-Mart, which began its operations in the year 1969, is now in a position to revolutionise the global retail industry. With its large size, gigantic scale operations and a globalised supply chain network, the company has accepted the challenge of environmental sustainability by looking for ways to implement green supply chain management and business practices across thousands of its stores located worldwide. The company has made all the efforts to integrate the social and environmental sustainability objectives with its marketing mix. However, there is still a long way to go for the company in achieving these objectives.

Recommendations for a New Sustainability Marketing Mix

The following recommendations, for Wal-Mart, are based on the 4p’s model of sustainability marketing mix

The side of the environment or the planet comprises the major factors which must be considered by Wal-Mart as these factors of a major influence over the environment. These factors include the impact of packaging of the products which are offered by the company. At the same time, waste management is also important concept which Wal-Mart must focus upon intensively.

The second recommendation for the company is that of being proactive in the industry. The company must develop a code of conduct in order to implement sustainable practices within the company and at the same time it must as well act according to the provisions of the code of sustainability developed by the association of the industry in general.

The third recommendation for the company is to focus upon the people. The most important factors which must be considered by Wal-Mart in this very area are those of the working conditions of the employees of the company, the operational conditions after company with the suppliers as distributors, the white and climate for the employees of the company and the accommodation of safety equipment within the operational function of the business.

Finally, all of this will eventually result in some sort of influence on the profits side of the business. The efforts that must be made by Wal-Mart in order to satisfy the interest of the stakeholders include those which demand extensions work in the area of the production change will have an element of profitability and compensation. Wal-Mart must improve its credit conditions along the benefits for sustainable project. At the same time, it must as well focus on risk management.


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