Social Marketing Optimization and the Future of Economics

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The latest cry of warning from marketing gurus is: “For companies and brands to survive into the future will depend on a brand or company remaining culturally relevant.”

Social Marketing Optimization
Huh?

By definition, a country’s culture has been recognized as a significant environmental variable causing fundamental variations in behavior. Cultural norms, customs and beliefs play important roles in influencing people’s sensitivities, perceptions, outlooks, dispositions, attitudes, and behaviors (Markus & Kitayama, 1991). But most marketing theories have been designed and tested in Western societies during times when cultures seemed to be more homogeneous and less diversified than today. Indeed, there can be many subcultures that have unique values and requirements within the larger, overarching culture. As globalization has opened up new markets, corporations have become much more sensitive to the important impact of cultural factors; so much so that this “new awareness” is being incorporated into domestic as well as global marketing strategies.

Get this: a recent study came up with the amazing observation that-on average-owners of smartphones and tablets check their devices at least 150 times a day!

Worldwide Internet Usage 2014

Worldwide Internet Usage 2014

For example, the second largest population of Spanish speaking consumers resides inside the USA.  There are over 6 million Nigerian nationals who live, study and work in the UK. You get the picture. Access to these markets is most easily obtained through mobile platforms as most people from the developing world don’t access the internet via broadband because of affordability and custom.

Digital marketing and various platforms are rapidly transforming marketing strategies across the globe. Social media is making it possible to access a much deeper knowledge base about the many subcultures that can become or are already significant market niches. In fact, new companies and new billionaires are being created by adapting social marketing intelligence to diverse cultural niches. Just ask Tony Hawk, the famous skateboarder. Huh?

Anthropologists in the marketing department?

With social networking, digital marketing and big data analysis, new insights into cultural preferences and behaviors can be identified, tracked and analyzed. So, does that imply a new type of job description for marketing departments? Does it mean that specialists in comparative anthropology will be studying the various values, customs, and consumption behaviors of modern, living and morphing societies? Can you imagine what big data and the Internet of Things (IOT) could reveal?  Do Native Americans open the fridge more often that Hispanics? What foods do various groups prefer (statistically significant, of course)? What measurable data can identify early adopters of new technologies? What brands are losing ground with certain sub cultures and why? Just think of how much other cultural information might be uncovered.

Indeed, will we find out that cultures and sub cultures share many common values and preferences that support the belief that we are all basically the same? Or will we find that there are some very basic differences between some cultures and sub cultures?

For example, for centuries, the question has been raised as to why cultures in the Northern Hemisphere produce the vast majority of technical advances, Nobel Laureates and World Wars than do cultures below the equator. Are there cultural elements? Why do certain nations accept corruption, nepotism and a general disdain for fellow citizens? What makes the French…French? In other words, will the continued exponential growth of data collection and analysis lead to new and unintended consequences….for better or worse?

Market economics and commerce appear to be the evolutionary direction our species is headed. Underpinning that concept is knowledge and understanding. Mutual beneficial commerce and enlightened self-interest are intuitive and logical. It’s economics that becomes the wild card. But it follows that the more we learn about human behavior the better the chances are of discovering ways to improve economic systems.

 

Additional Reading

Social Enterprise: The Hub of Operational Excellence

Can “Social” Be One Key to Operational Excellence?

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