Marketing 3.0 by Phillip Kotler, with Hermann Kartajaya and Iwan Setiawan as co-authors, is a book I read a few years ago. I remember I felt inspired after listening to it so I decided to go through it again for the sake of writing a review on this blog. While some of the ideas in the book are inspiring and provide food for thought, I couldn‘t by any chance master up the same enthusiasm as I did when reading it the first time.
Phillip Kotler is one of the gods of modern marketing. I think every marketing program in the world teaches his textbook “Principles of Marketing”. I myself have a signed copy after meeting Prof. Kotler a couple of years back. It’s always good to get a little humblebrag in.
The principles discussed in Marketing 3.0 is that to reach consumers in the age of connectedness your brand needs to reach them on an emotional level, have a clear mission and live in agreement with society. In a way they should be a good citizen.
The title “Marketing 3.0” refers to the evolution of marketing over the years. Marketing 1.0 age is when everything was about the product. All communication was about the product, it‘s benefits and how the product and it‘s features improved people‘s lives. Marketing 2.0 came with the age of segmentation, targeting and positioning. In this era, brands nurture their relationships with their consumers. In the era of Marketing 3.0, marketing is about how consumers will choose brands that replicate or speak to their values.
A few key points
Brands must have a higher purpose
According to the author, consumers of today want to connect with brands that have a mission which exceeds maximizing shareholder value. Therefore the most important thing that brands need to do in this new age of marketing is to communicate what they stand for.
An example often quoted in the book is the shoemaker Timberland. Timberland’s mission is to equip people to make a difference in the world. The company tries to minimize its negative impact on the world.
Choose partners that fit your values
When moving up and down the value chain you need to be careful when choosing business partners. If you relate this to when brands choose retailers to work with or even celebrity endorsements this makes perfect sense.
However this is nothing new. Brands have always had to be careful when choosing partners because the brands need to be aligned. For example, if you’re an organic and healthy food brand, you might want to have your items for sale at Whole Foods rather than Walmart.
Employees will be happier
According to the authors, employees of socially responsible companies will be happier at work. They will have more pride in working for this specific employer and be more willing to help the company reach its goals. This is a point that I do agree with. When your employers seems to be making an effort to better the community it works in you do feel a sense of pride and want to contribute your time.
However, this can be a double edged sword. If a company is trying to act good by allowing their employees to do charity work to get some positive PR but is meanwhile polluting or acting corrupt then this will all be for nothing. Integrity has to be the key.
My main problem with Marketing 3.0 is that it’s written by a university professor. Because of that it’s unbelievably boring! The story is totally flaccid and written like it’s a textbook. I had a hard time concentrating.
Now I said before that the first time I read the book I did feel inspired. However after a couple of years of working, studying and then re-reading the book my mind has changed a little. First of all I don’t think the author is on a breakthrough path like he thinks he is. Yes, marketing is becoming more about values. But the values do not necessarily have to do with being a good citizen. They can rather be something like “fun”, “exciting”, “professional”, “proven through the ages” and so forth.
In my view this book is more an attempt to tap into the sustainability movement. It really doesn’t add more to the movement but rather is just a nice way to sell more copies. When you need to read a book about why your company should behave like a good citizen you’re already in trouble. Just be a good citizen.