Playing a Role in Local Communities

Marketing Highlight

Ronald McDonald Children's Charities (RMCC) was founded in 1984 in the United States. It was established in memory of Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald's Corporation, lie believed that 'It is important to have an involvement in the life and spirit of a community and the people around you.' This belief lives on in the McDonald's system and is evident in a variety of community programmes practised by McDonald's Che world over. In 1989, for example, RMCC was set up in the United Kingdom, and through the efforts of McDonald's Restaurants Limited, its staff, customers and suppliers, over S3 million h;is since been raised for a wide variety of charitable causes that help children.

RMCC grants have been awarded to programmes which help young people reach their full potential and make a real difference for children and their well-being. The 'Ronald McDonald House' is a cornerstone of RMCC. The first was built at Philadelphia in the United States in 1974, close to the Philadelphia Children's Hospital. When 2 child is taken seriously ill and has to spend some time in hospital, families are usually faced with the problem of where to stay to be close at hand. The Ronald McDonald House has a set number of beds for parents to stay overnight and a family accommodation block. This means that the family can be together again as a unit, while also providing a brief respite in a family environment.

There are now over 160 Ronald McDonald Houses in the United States, Canada, Australia,

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McDonald's plays its role in die life and spirit of the surrounding local communities

Japan and Europe. Each House is a 'home away from home' with the feel, aesthetics and comfort of family living. Families are able to prepare their own meals, relax and rest in privacy or enjoy the company of others living in when they so desire. The House is the result of a team effort between the hospital doctors and staff, the parents of the children and McDonald's. Each House is run by a separate charitable trust set up to oversee fund raising and to manage the house. The boards of these trusts are made up of parents, hospital representatives and senior management of McDonald's. The trusts initiate their own fund-raising events. Throughout the year, McDonald's own restaurant staff are involved in local events to raise money for RMCC, and collecting boxes for donations from customers are placed in every restaurant. McDonald's Restaurants Limited, its franchisees and also its suppliers all donate to RMCC. Other recipients of money raised by

RMCC include children's charities - such as hospitals, youth organizations, schools and many more worthy causes. •

McDonald's restaurants not only display posters and collecting boxes for the RMCC programme, but also provide customers with information leaflets to disseminate information about their community involvement. These leaflets also sometimes contain requests for funds and/or volunteers who may be interested in helping in specific campaigns. This type of e omnium cation effort is also designed to raise customers' as well as other local and general publics' awareness of Ray Kroc's philosophy of 'giving something back to the communities that give so much to us [McDonald's Corporation]'.

SOURCES: Tour questions answered', Ronald McDonald Children's Charities, London; The Public Relations Department, McDonald's Restaurants Limited, London.

PEOPLE'S VIEWS OF OTHERS. More recently, observers have noted a shift from a 'me-society' to a 'we-society', in which more people want to be with and serve others. Flashy spending and self-indulgence appear to be on the way out, whereas saving, family concerns and helping others are on the rise. A recent survey showed that more people arc becoming involved in charity, volunteer work and social service activities.16 This suggests a bright future for 'social support' products and services that improve direct communication between people, such as health clubs, family vacations and games. It also suggests a growing market for 'social substitutes' - things like VGRs and computers that allow people who are alone to feel that they are not.

PEOPLE'S VIEWS OV ORGANIZATIONS. People van' in their attitudes towards corporations, government agencies, trade unions, universities and other organizations. By and large, people are willing to work for big organizations and expect them, in turn, to carry out society's work. There has been a decline in organizational loyalty, however. People are giving a little less to their organizations and are trusting them less.

This trend suggests that organizations need to find new ways to win consumer confidence. They need to review their advertising communications to make sure their messages are honest. Also, they need to review their various activities to make sure that they are coming across as 'good corporate citizens'. More companies are linking themselves to worthwhile causes, measuring their images with important publics and using public relations to build more positive images (see Marketing Highlight 4.4).

PEOPLE'S VIEWS OK SOCIETY. People vary in their attitudes toward their society - from patriots who defend it, to reformers who want to change it, and

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malcontents who want to leave it. People's orientation to their society influences their consumption patterns, levels of savings and attitudes toward the marketplace.

In the affluent and industrializing Asian nations, consumers aspire to achieve the high living standards and lifestyles of people in the more advanced western countries. The display of conspicuous consumption and fondness for expensive western brands - the common label for achievement and westernization - are highly acceptable behaviour. Consumer patriotism, for example, is not an issue, since locally made goods are often viewed as inferior or less desirable than foreign imported brands. By contrast, in the western developed countries, the late 1980s and early 1990s saw an increase in consumer patriotism. European consumers reckoned that sticking to locally produced goods would save and protect jobs. Many US companies also responded to American patriotism with 'made in America' themes and flag-waving promotions, such as Chevrolet is 'the heartbeat of America', Black & Decker's flag-like symbol on its tools, and the textile industry's 'Grafted with Pride in the USA' advertising campaign, which insisted that 'made in the USA matters."

PEOPLE'S VIEWS OF NATURE. People vary in their attitudes towards the natural world. Some feel ruled by it, others feel in harmony with it and still others seek to master it. A long-term trend has been people's growing mastery over nature through technology and the belief that nature is bountiful. More recently, however, people have recognized that nature is finite and fragile - that it can be destroyed or spoiled by human activities.

Love of nature is leading to more camping, hiking, boating, fishing and other outdoor activities. Business has responded by offering more hiking gear, camping equipment, better insect repellents and other products for nature enthusiasts. Tour operators are offering more tours to wilderness areas. Food producers have found growing markets for 'natural' products like natural cereal, natural ice cream, organically farmed produce and a variety of health foods. Marketing communicators are using appealing natural backgrounds in advertising their products.

PEOPLF/S VIEWS OF THE UNIVERSE. Finally, people vary in their beliefs about the origin of the universe and their place in it. While the practice of religion remains strong in many parts of the world, religious conviction and practice have been dropping oif through the years in certain countries, notably in the United States and Europe where, for example, church attendance has fallen gradually. As people lose their religious orientation, they seek goods and experiences with more immediate satisfactions. During the 1980s, people increasingly measured success in terms of career achievement, wealth and worldly possessions. Some futurists, however, have noted an emerging renewal of interest in religion, perhaps as part of a broader search for a new inner purpose. Starting in the 1990s, they believe, people are moving away from materialism and dog-eat-dog ambition to seek more permanent values and a more certain grasp of right and wrong. The 'new realists', found mainly in the developed western markets, reflect a move away from overt consumerism. However, in many markets such as India, China and south-east Asia, society's value systems place great importance on economic achievement and material possession. The values of these 'enthusiastic materialists' are also shared by the developing markets of Europe, such as Turkey, and some Latin American countries.18

Responding to the Marketing Environment

Many companies view the marketing environment as an 'uncontrollable' element to which they must adapt. They passively accept the marketing environment and do not try to change it. They analyze the environmental forces and design strategies that will help the company avoid the threats and take advantage of the opportunities the environment provides.

Other companies take an environmental management perspective.19 Rather than simply watching and reacting, these firms take aggressive actions to affect the publies and forces in their marketing environment. Such companies hire lobbyists to influence legislation affecting their industries and stage media events to gain favourable press coverage. They run 'advertorials' (ads expressing editorial points of view) to shape public opinion. They take legal action ami file complaints with regulators to keep competitors in line. They also form contractual agreements to control their distribution channels better.

Marketing management cannot always affect environmental forces. In many cases, it must settle for simply watching and reacting to the environment. For example, a company would have little success trying to influence geographic population shifts, the economic environment or important cultural values. But whenever possible, clever marketing managers will take a proactive rather than reactive approach to the marketing environment.

environmental management perspective A management perspective in which the firm takes aggressive actions to affect the publics and forces in its marketing environment rather than simply •watching it and reacting to it.

Summary

All companies operate within a marketing environment. This environment consists of all the actors and forces that affect the company's ability to transact effectively with its target market. The company's marketing environment can be divided into the microem'ironmeiit ;md the macroenvironment.

The rnicmenvironment consists of five components. The first is the company's internal environment - its departmental and managerial structure, which affects marketing management's decision making. The second component is the marketing channel firms that co-operate to create value. These include the firm's suppliers and marketing intermediaries (middlemen, physical distribution firms, financial intermediaries, marketing services .'agencies). The third component refers to the five types of market in which the company ean sell; the consumer, producer, reseller, government and international markets. The competitors facing the company make up the fourth component. The final component is the gnnip of publics that have an actual or potential interest in or impact on the organization's ability to achieve its objectives. These constituencies include financial, media, government, citizen action, local, general and internal publics.

The company's macroenvironment consists of primary forces that shape opportunities and pose threats to the company. These forces Include demographic, economic, natural, technological, political and cultural forces.

In many developed western and Asian countries, the demographic environment presents problems with the challenges of changing age and family structures, a population that is becoming better educated and increasing diversity. The economic environment shows changing patterns of real income and shifts in consumer spending patterns. The natural environment has pending shortages of certain raw materials, growing energy costs, higher pollution levels, more government intervention in natural resource management and higher levels of citizen concern and activism about these issues. The technological environment reveals rapid technological change, unlimited innovation opportunities, a need for high R & 0 budgets, concentration on minor improvements rather than big discoveries, and growing regulation of technological change. The political environment shows increasing business regulation, the rising importance of public interest groups and increased emphasis on ethics and socially responsible actions. The cultural environment suggests long-term trends towards a 'we-soeiety', less organizational loyalty, increasing patriotism find conservatism, greater appreciation for nature and a search for more meaningful and enduring values.

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