We launch the Better Marketing for a Better World (BMBW) Special Issue of the Journal of Marketing with enthusiasm and optimism for how it will impact our world. Interested readers can view all the articles and a complete version of our editorial here.
Our editorial in the Special Issue calls for a renewed focus by marketing scholars on how marketing can contribute to a better world. Specifically, we argue that scholars should examine the impact of marketing on outcomes beyond just what is good for the financial performance of firms. By doing so, marketing scholars have the opportunity to apply their talents to areas that were previously not considered part of marketing. BMBW emphasizes marketing’s role in enhancing the welfare of the world’s multiple stakeholders and institutions. Unless we broaden the range of outcomes we study and change how we interpret marketing’s role, marketing scholars risk becoming detached from many of the world’s most important challenges. These include persistent poverty, inequity, illiteracy, insecurity, disease, climate change, pollution, and human trafficking, among many others. These consequential challenges should interest marketing scholars, but unfortunately rarely do. BMBW topics are not yet viewed as central to the marketing discipline. We believe this situation should change.
To verify the resonance of this position, we asked a group of leading marketing scholars “How important is the topic of BMBW to the field of marketing?” and the mean response was 6.34 on a 7-point scale. More than 60% responded with the highest score. However, when asked “How effectively do you think the field has addressed BMBW topics?” over 80% responded with scores of 4 or below. Our conclusion from this and other input is that the field is ripe for change.
The 239 submissions we received for the BMBW Special Issue suggest that our field might be poised to move BMBW to the center stage of research in marketing. What is holding us back and what can we do to push forward? Our editorial describes assumptions that we think are hindering the field’s involvement with these topics. These assumptions include limiting beliefs around three questions: (1) Who is the primary actor appropriate for study in marketing?; (2) What should be the objectives of marketing (and research in marketing)?; (3) How can BMBW topics be studied?
The authors in our Special Issue made the leap across the chasm imposed by these assumptions. This issue, to our delight, covers many important challenges facing the world, including sustainability and climate concerns, poverty and development, health, and increasing prosocial giving.
We invite you to make this leap as well—to look at pressing social issues and to ask two simple questions: 1) Does this topic belong in marketing? 2) How could you frame this topic as a marketing question? From these questions, other questions will emanate: Why is the outcome important to marketing? Does marketing exacerbate the problem? Does marketing have the potential to provide a solution to or an explanation for the problem?
We asked marketing and consumer research scholars from across the field to reflect on these questions in sessions that we hosted at AMA and ACR conferences as part of the call for papers for the Special Issue. They generated many interesting perspectives and angles to connect better marketing to a better world and we urge you to take inspiration from their ideas as well as the topics suggested in our call for papers which you can find here. Our hope is that both will serve as inspiration long after this Special Issue.
Finally, we are leveraging this Special Issue as a launching pad for the BMBW initiative (BMBW.org), which we hope will keep the conversation going among interested scholars and practitioners. Check out the website for upcoming forums, training sessions, and resources. Join us on this journey. Together, we can build a strong and vibrant community that will inspire Better Marketing for a Better World.
The entire Special Issue is now available here.
Full editorial: Rajesh K. Chandy, Gita Venkataramani Johar, Christine Moorman, and John H. Roberts, “Better Marketing for a Better World,” Journal of Marketing.
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