I have been reading about Gandhism off-late and more I read about the concept, greater I have respect for Mahatma Gandhi. And the thought which goes in mind very often; Are the Gandhi’s thoughts relevant to marketing as well? The Gandhian concepts have become more relevant with concept of 8th P “PHILOSOPHY” being more talked about in the marketing field.
The elementary basis of Gandhian philosophy is Satya and Ahimsa. Satya is a sanskrit word meaning “truth” and Ahimsa means “Non-Violence”. The context of truth can be external and internal as applied to products and services marketing. The truth factor can have long lasting effect on product management, product marketing, promotion or product distribution. I am sure this statement must have raised question in your mind. But remember concepts of branding, it is continuity with good characteristics that make a successful brand. And in Hindu philosophy they say “Satyam Shivam Sundaram” which means truth is beautiful and truth is God. God is considered as eternal. So I may say the truth is ultimate for branding – Who doesn’t like beautiful product and services forever.
In todays highly competitive world one is compelled to think of shortcuts and quick results. Advertisement with asterix mark “condition apply” are very common. However such tricks are short lived and what is needed a character for product or services which evolves and stays in mind for ever. If one develops a philosophy around the product (remember 8th P), it gives a character to the product. Question is what character, think about this, who would you like to be friends with. A person with good habits, easy to go along a friendly person who can help you in need. Associating such characteristics with product is a challenge, reason: it is about other P’s of marketing- People, Processes and Physical evidence (behaviour).
I say challenging as the product or service characteristics is about the external and internal environment. The internal environment comprises of team which work on product right from design team, production team, sales/marketing team to service team. The ability to influence such a team for a longer period can be attained by being truthful to self and team. The external environment comprises of customer and vendors, being truthful to your customers by communication, be it from advertisement or product features is undoubtedly a better strategy. It also helps in honest feedback for improvement in product and processes. Similarly vendors and distributors also appreciate the true communication and it helps in longstanding fruitful relationship.
The most important aspect of Gandhian concept of truth is to build culture of truthfulness. The culture in an organization is important in handling “moments of Truth” and that is the way to guide for better performance. Being true to oneself one see the shortcomings, agrees to transform for betterment and deliver on the areas required. By being true you build the conducive behavior of the internal and external environment and reap the fruit of success.
I have not touched on Ahimsa aspect of Gandhian philosophy. As I understand the Ahimsa is not being defensive. Ashimsa is about realizing one strong areas and weak areas. Using Strong product attributes to market the right need of the customer is an important aspect in product marketing. Ahimsa is about understanding the strong and weak areas of the team capabilities and using it best possible way to use the strength of the team and improve on weaker areas. I see ahimsa as the pointer for niche positioning, in marketing identifying niche is important as it helps to save energy (money) and use it on right target. Ahimsa can very well used for giving characteristics like being natural, calm and internally strong product features.
There can many other areas where these concepts can be applied like waranty services, pricing of the products and services. However, it should also be remembered it is application and execution which needs to fine tuned. The concpets are normally well said then done. M.K. Gandhi is called “Mahatma” for not only he understood but applied and followed concepts on himself. That is truly a characteristics of “Mahatma – A Great Soul” . We need to give a soul to product and services and then we need not advertise it. For great brands need not be advertised they build the followers.