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Marketing 3.0 author Philip Kotler, the S.C. Johnson & Son Professor of International Marketing at the Kellogg School

Professor Phil Kotler

Marketing 3.0: From Products to Customers to the Human Spirit

In his 47th book, Philip Kotler shows why big-picture values matter for business

By Matt Golosinski

5/12/2010 - Can marketing save the world?

Well, it can certainly try. In fact, it had better try, since people now invest more of their minds, hearts and spirits in their commercial lives.

They also have heightened expectations of business and its potential to improve the world, according to Philip Kotler, the S.C. Johnson & Son Professor of International Marketing, whose 47th book, Marketing 3.0: From Products to Customers to the Human Spirit (Wiley), offers practitioners a framework for thriving in this emerging environment.

Kotler's book explores the changes that are cultivating a more enlightened sort of marketing, one whose powers are being enlisted to help solve urgent problems. Three forces — cheap computers and mobile phones, low-cost Internet access and open-source software — are driving this shift, Kotler writes, and have fostered a "values-driven," networked world in which collaboration is easy and ubiquitous.

This "new wave" technology also presents opportunities for marketers to engage consumers as individuals whose needs extend beyond mere material goods — and as actors who want a bigger say in how and what a company produces, to ensure better outcomes for themselves and for society.

If "Marketing 1.0" was a product-focused enterprise born of the Industrial Revolution, and "Marketing 2.0" was a customer-focused effort leveraging insights gained from information technology, then Kotler says marketing's latest incarnation must do even more. It must engage people in ways that provide "solutions to their anxieties to make the globalized world a better place." Practitioners must, as never before, understand and respond to the values that drive customer choice.

And if, as Kotler argues, customers are the new brand owners, it's clear that their values will significantly influence those brands. Companies that "get" the 3.0 model, he says, will integrate the right values into every aspect of their business, and then market that mission to their audience. "The company wants to live out a set of values, and these values give the company its personality and purpose," Kotler says.

Kotler even draws comparisons between Marketing 3.0 and the agenda outlined in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals of 2000, which endorsed efforts to eradicate poverty and hunger, advance universal primary education, and reduce child mortality. Profit will result when consumers appreciate a company's efforts to improve human well-being — whether that is The Walt Disney Company working to address wellness issues facing children, or S.C. Johnson & Son's positioning as a sustainable family business that serves millions of people living on less than $1 a day.

Marketing 3.0 is selling hope along with the soap, touching people's hearts and minds. It's a transformation, says Kotler, whose time has come.