06 Mar 2008

Marketing Can Serve Citizens as Well as Consumers

Senior Associate Dean
John A. Quelch
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Q&A; with authors John
Quelch and Katherine

BOSTON — In Greater Good: How Good Marketing Makes for Better Democracy (Harvard Business Press), Harvard Business School Professor John A. Quelch and Research Associate Katherine E. Jocz argue that democracy can be driven by good marketing and healthy dialogue. When governments treat citizens more like consumers - studying their needs, encouraging their feedback, and developing long-term relationships - democracy becomes more democratic. On the flip side, the authors also discuss how managers and marketers can learn from democracy's focus on fairness and concern for society.

In a sweeping portrait of business, government, and society, the authors challenge the belief that modern marketing somehow contaminates the political process. In fact, democracy and marketing share six fundamental characteristics:

  • Value is exchanged,
  • Goods and services are consumed,
  • Decisions involve free choice,
  • Information must flow freely,
  • A majority of the population actively engages in the process, and
  • Both seek to involve as many people as possible.

Readers might ask whether it is dangerous to treat a politician or a social program like a product or a service. But, the authors cite compelling examples to show how companies, including Coca-Cola and eBay, succeed by supplying not products, but solutions - not functions but benefits.

Successful marketing is customer focused; and Quelch and Jocz apply this principle to government, evaluating how well democracy focuses on citizens by exploring issues such as:

  • Why is political marketing more negative and fear-driven than product marketing?
  • What have new media done to the equilibrium among voters, parties, and governments?
  • How could troubled government programs, such as the 2006 Medicare drug plan, be improved by putting the customer first?

"This sweeping, insightful analysis of modern marketing - what it is, its role politically and economically, and key improvements that can be made - provides a wealth of stimulating ideas," said Steve Forbes, President, CEO and Editor-in-Chief, Forbes. "Even those who believe they are not involved in marketing will find this deep thought-out book provocative and enlightening."

About the Authors

John A. Quelch is Senior Associate Dean and Lincoln Filene Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. He also serves as a nonexecutive director of WPP Group PLC, the world's second-largest marketing services company. Between 1998 and 2001 he was Dean of London Business School. Prior to 1998, Quelch was the Sebastian S. Kresge Professor of Marketing and Co-Chair of the Marketing Area at Harvard Business School. His weekly marketing blog can be found at www.quelchblog.com.

Katherine E. Jocz is a Research Associate at Harvard Business School. Previously, she was vice president of Research Operations at Marketing Science Institute.

About Harvard Business School

Founded in 1908 as part of Harvard University, Harvard Business School is located on a 40-acre campus in Boston. Its faculty of more than 250 offers full-time programs leading to the MBA and PhD degrees, as well as more than 175 Executive Education programs, and Harvard Business School Online, the School’s digital learning platform. For more than a century, faculty have drawn on their research, their experience in working with organizations worldwide, and their passion for teaching, to educate leaders who make a difference in the world. The School and its curriculum attract the boldest thinkers and the most collaborative learners who will go on to shape the practice of business and entrepreneurship around the globe.