In a world where we are always asked to be focused, keep our heads down and “eye on the ball”, sometimes the best thing we can do is to look sideways. Best not to do while standing in a men’s latrine though.
Take social problems for example. There are thousands of NGOs in the worlds spending millions of dollars against a range of social problems like global warming, hunger, poverty, sanitation etc. But despite the presence of regulatory bodies, smart minds and a large war chest, the best we can show for these problems in incremental improvement. In short, the spread of the problem over the years out weigh the incremental solutions provided.
That’s why Micheal Porter suggested that maybe the best way to have sustainable solution of social problems is not by social organizations, but by business organizations who have a profit motive. Its counter intuitive and quite controversial. But it also makes sense. As economic human animal, what makes a large problem (Which we think as other people’s problem that doesn’t bother us) seems do-able and relevant is finding a strategy which helps us to gain something out of it. Hence it should be less “charity” and “social marketing”. Its also not your typical “Corporate Social Responsibility” which organizations do out of obligation, not out of business objective.
Same principle applies in business ventures like health food. A lot of money and focus has gone into making health food appear “Healthy”, where the prevailing assumption is we all like to be healthy. The problem with making health conscious decisions is that it looks more “fun” thinking about it than actually doing it. That’s why, health food is still very much a micro-niche segment. This is where health foods can learn from its nemesis, Fast Food. Fast foods live by the code of bringing comfort and pleasure in everyday life. So by looking at how fast food companies do that and applying them in their health food marketing, health foods can finally break into mainstream. A few healthier options who have gone mainstream like “Vitamin Water” and “Innocent” have both done so by making healthier options looking “Cool”.
And they are both owned by Coca Cola, so I guess there is no shortage of “sinful marketing experience” there!!!