Curative international marketing restores and develops international economic health and may be the next step up for marketing. “Restore” indicates something lost that once was there. “Developing” refers to new issues to be addressed with new tools and frames of reference. “Health” in turn positions the issue as important to overall welfare. Marketers must deliver joy, pleasure, fulfillment, safety, personal growth, and advancement towards a better society.
Curative international marketing accepts responsibility for problems to which marketing has contributed. It then uses marketing’s capabilities to set things right, to heal past wounds, and to increase the well-being of the individual and society on a global level. Curative marketing’s two perspectives consist of looking back to check on what marketing has wrought and making up for past errors with future action.
Global problems require a global approach. Curative international market ing needs to draw on fields like jurisprudence, cultural anthropology, philosophy, and history. Such a perspective acknowledges that marketing is too important to be left to marketers alone, consonant with Keynes’s questioning “how and whether economics should rule the world.”
International marketers need to focus on past errors and mistakes inflicted by international marketing and sweep these out from under the carpet in the spirit of Wiedergutmachung, or restitution.
Marketing’s disregard of local idiosyncrasies has sometimes been like the introduction of a destructive virus on a culture, akin to bringing snakes to Guam which almost exterminated all the local birds and to how European outsiders brought smallpox, flu, and typhus viruses that decimated the Inca of Peru. More contemporaneous is a current lawsuit:
The Pine Ridge Indian tribe is suing five beer companies for their role in the alcohol ism and fetal alcohol syndrome that plague the tribe’s reservation. The Oglala Sioux Tribe claims that the beer companies—which include Anheuser Busch and Molson Coors一sold beer on the perimeter of the teetotalling South Dakota reservation with the knowledge that it would be smuggled in demanding $500 million for healthcare and rehabilitation. Whiteclay, a nearby town in Nebraska with four beer shops and only about a dozen residents, gets most of its customers from the reservation.
Tom White, the lawyer representing the tribe, told the Associated Press: “You cannot sell 4.9 million 12oz cans of beer and wash your hands like Pontius Pilate, and say we’ve got nothing to do with it being smuggled.” The reservation, which is about the size of Connecticut, has dealt with poverty and alcoholism for decades. One in four children born suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome, and the life expectancy, between 45 and 52 years, is the lowest in the U.S.
Eastern Europe, in its transition from socialism to market practices, pro vides another example. Advertisements were taken literally, leading to grave dis appointments by consumers because they did not win the “promised” car or look like model Heidi Klum. Local foods (and their producers) disappeared because newly entering chain stores already had suppliers. People were conditioned to increase their consumption of products, which led, for many, to consumption addiction.
Growth is seen by many as the envisioned key accomplishment of marketing. Executives planning only to maintain market share last only for a very short time in their job. More is expected. Citius, altius, fortius (“faster, higher, stronger”) may be a great motto for the Olympics, but it leads to unexpected repercussions for marketers and their customers.
Consumers’ interest in and preparation for marketing are not evenly distributed. Negative effects may result from marketing’s misleading of consumers or simply from unawareness or neglect. It is the obligation of international marketers to understand local conditions and to anticipate and limit possible ill effects. Not everything that can be done should be done. There must be a marketing Hippocratic Oath: “First do no harm.” Beyond that caveat, marketers need to do everything possible to make people be better off and actually feel better.
A second key concern is the future outlook: how can marketing set things right again? Four core areas are international marketing’s pillars for a shining position on the hill: truthfulness, simplicity, expanded participation, and personal responsibility.