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In the societal marketing concept, a firm is supposed to create and marekt its products with a view to doing what is best for their customers. This is in contrast to other concepts where firms do what makes the most money, or do what their customers want.
The idea of e-cigarettes, you can argue, fits in with the societyal concept. The idea of these devices is that they can deliver a nicotine "fix" to a person without any of the bad effects that come with getting your nicotine through smoke.
So you can argue that the companies are trying to do what is best for consumers by helping them avoid the cancers and other health problems associated with smoking.
Societal marketing is one of the many terms used to denote socially responsible marketing that is based on concern for the ethical, environmental, legal and social context of marketing activities and programs. Societal Marketing holds that an organization's task is to determine the needs wants and interests of the target markets and to deliver the desired satisfaction more effectively and efficiently in a way that preserves or enhances the consumer's and society's well being (Kotler and Keller p.22).
I am not aware of the nature of the e-cigarettes or its marketing approach. However I would like to say that just the selling of a product that is considered to be less harmful than some substitute product, does not qualify the related marketing effort as societal marketing. For example, if the company marketing the product is deliberately promoting a product based on exaggerated claims of benefits, or is hiding some other harmful effects, it is definitely not societal marketing.
Kotler, P. and Keller K.P. (2006) Marketing Management, Pearson Education, Delhi.
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