Hermawan Kartajaya Image

Hermawan Kartajaya

Hermawan Kartajaya is the Founder and President of MarkPlus&Co. He is regarded as Asia’s Leading Marketing Strategist and is cited as being one of the ‘50 Gurus Who Have Shaped The Future of Marketing’ as appointed by The Chartered Institute of Marketing - United Kingdom (CIM-UK).

Marketing for Humanity

Old granddaddy got a nice present for his 75th birthday: 12,500 foot parachute jump. After landed safely in once piece without having to see his fake teeth fell apart, he described his free fall as "a euphoric high" that "you just feel wonderful" and "it was just exhilarating." That was not his first jump though. He already tried it once during the time he served his country in World War II, 54 years earlier. And certainly that was not his last too. He parachutes again for his 80th birthday two years ago and told "just because you’re eighty, that doesn’t mean you can’t do more fun or interesting things."

That granddaddy’s name is George Bush, and by the way, he’s POTUS number 41. Perhaps he can’t get enough of his time in the White House as the president nor in his Texas ranch as a bullfighter.

We see many paradoxes in today’s society. People have money, power, possession, and other imaginational abracadabras but in fact that don’t necessarily make them happy. There are many shopping malls around the neighborhood. Modern retail outlets such as gigantic hypermarkets are ubiquitous. But do they all make us feel ecstatic? Not necessarily.

There is a paradox of choice. The more we have choices, the more we confused. We are living in the world of abundance, where having crowd of material goods around has not made us all much happier. What we pursue is the purpose, transcendence and meaning which all have become an integral part of our lives. As the great Viktor Frankl once said "people have enough to live, but nothing to live for; They have the means, but no meaning."

From marketing stand point, the changes in today’s society matters a lot, as it reflect to consumer behavior. I agree with people who say that today’s society struggles for psychic survival. One can safely claim that people are becoming unbalanced with their lives (and perhaps going insane). In today’s world, spiritual needs increasingly exceed material needs.

People are moving into holistic ways of living as way of balancing out their lives, which have become too mechanistic and hectic. They pursue the big O. Not the big Orgasm, but ‘O’ as in the optimal state of mind. It is the experience that make people feel the most enthusiastically and meaningfully alive. It is the ultimate bliss in life.

In search of Sukhavati. People try many ways to shoot for the ultimate bliss. Some do dancing, praying, meditating, while some may do parachute jump too like George Bush Senior as he turned eighty. As today’s customers feel that the big O is the new survival must-have, marketers should play their role as the healers while think of customers as patients.

Marketing itself is changing a lot. It has progressed from what was used to be product-centric to customer-centric and now to human-centric. In product-centric marketing era (from the introduction of Ford’s T-Model until late 1980s), marketers only care about the product knowledge, features, and functionality. Whereas in the customer-centric marketing era (from the introduction of digital age in the 1990s until the new millennium), marketing is all about understanding customer and touching the heart and emotion of customers.

But today, marketing is entering new era of human-centric marketing. It is about understanding that customers are human with anxiety and desires. They have the mind, heart, and spirit as their engines of anxiety and desires. Therefore marketers must be able to nurture the three elements in order to win their preference.

In today’s world, competing by positioning products in the mind of the customer and touching their heart is woefully inadequate. That’s why marketers need to target customer’s mind, heart, and spirit. They must nurture the customer’s creativity and capture their anxiety and desire. To do this, they must sell VALUES instead of VALUE.

This was against the backdrop of people hungering for peace, spirituality and human values. I defined spirituality not as religion, but as the basic desire to find purpose and meaning in one’s life.

In short, marketing was being de-constructed from being a set of formulae that saw consumers as `targets' to an almost spiritual exercise that saw them as we would see ourselves in a mirror. The `holistic' approach had arrived in marketing.

One company which since its establishment has shown its values on top of value creation and shown its humane side instead of being economic animal is The Body Shop. Founded by Madame Anita Roddick, Body Shop has inspired many people, from business leaders, activist, to hippies community, and respected around the world with its "Profit with Principle" philosophy.

Named the 28th ranked brand in the world, and 2nd in the retail sector in the 1997 Interbrand survey; voted the second most trusted brand in the United Kingdom by its consumers association and recognized as the 27th most respected company in the world by The Financial Times, the Body Shop continues to communicate its values. Against animal testing, support community trade, activate self esteem, defend human rights, Protect Our Planet are just some of the Body Shop’s well known value statements. Its strength lies in its community trade program whose aim is to support thousands of people by building livelihoods for families across the globe and to support education and provide health benefits.

As stated in its mission and values, Body Shop concern about a number of issues, as well as global social and environmental development. This is expressed through a number of charitable activities: opposition to live testing on animals in the cosmetic industry; concern for community development in the Third World; helping to develop alternative energy as part of efforts to save the Planet.

People buying from Body Shop do not do so merely because of its products, which contain only natural ingredients, as they also do respect its values. By buying from Body Shop, people feel they also have the same values as it does; they are also opposed to animal testing, they defend human rights, etc.

Body Shop is one great example of a great company that using effective marketing for humanity. The brand is highly spiritual and to me it is the perfect model of marketing in the human-centric era.

To sum up, marketers need to understand that customers are human equipped with mind, heart, and spirit. They have their anxiety, desires, and values too. They only way for marketers to achieve great success and sustainability is by showing their humane side. Marketers are human after all. Just like customers.