Storage, however, is only one solution to having too much stuff in the house. If a company was truly aligned with this human condition, it would also offer other solutions, including disposal, consignment or donation for a tax deduction—all of which eliminate extra stuff without storing it. Consumers could choose which solution or combination of solutions best satisfy their needs, and the company could charge accordingly.
Show the full cost
People care what it costs, beyond dollars, to satisfy their needs. Increasingly, they want to know how their decisions affect the wider world. How much does a product increase greenhouse gas emission, water pollution, deforestation and loss of biodiversity? And what is a brand’s track record on corporate diversity and pay equality, overseas labor practices, worker safety and data transparency?
All of these consequential costs can be measured. The methodologies have been part of international guidelines on social responsibility for more than a decade. If a company makes the time to calculate and share its total costs, consumers can trust that it is focused on all their needs. Market forces will ensure that companies with lower consequential costs are rewarded with more purchases, just as they are when they offer a lower monetary price.
Realign internally around human relations
Companies need to restructure to become more human-centric. Currently, the communications function in most companies is separated based on the role the recipient plays for the company. If the company needs to talk to a customer, it’s marketing’s responsibility. If they’re an employee, it’s human resources. If they’re a shareholder, that’s investor relations. And, if they’re a neighbor, that’s a job for community relations.
Unfortunately, these departments rarely communicate with each other. Their competing agendas increasingly create fragmented brands. It’s time to realign under a human relations structure, knowing that all these stakeholder groups share a multitude of human needs that the company could satisfy. Start by identifying the overlap in departmental databases—people who play multiple roles for the company. Chances are, a company has customers who are also investors, neighbors and even employees. Recognizing this makes the need to market to the whole person painfully obvious.
In the end, marketers need to better understand how all the facets of personality unlock a person’s needs value. When companies can satisfy people not just as customers, but also as employees, investors and neighbors, marketing will have strengthened the entire stakeholder ecosystem.