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‘Marketeers, take care of your customers and increase your profits’

06 May 2015
Koert van Ittersum

Companies can help to improve their customers’ well-being, while also increasing their profits. This is the gist of the inaugural lecture given by Professor of Marketing and Consumer Well-Being, Koert van Ittersum, at the University of Groningen on 12 May. ‘Marketing does not have a particularly good image, as most people think that marketeers are simply out to make a profit. I think that despite this negative image, marketeers are in a unique position to help improve their customers’ lifestyle, while also increasing their own profits.’

Van Ittersum: ‘My lecture can be seen as a ‘call to action’ for the profession: think carefully about ways of making a difference to consumers. We must get away from the idea that anything that is good for consumers is by definition bad for business.’

Obesity

In his lecture, Van Ittersum will refer to the widespread problem of obesity. ‘This problem is largely caused by the over-consumption of unhealthy food. You can’t just assume that consumers will automatically make the decisions that are best for them. Companies are in a prime position to help consumers make healthier choices. Manufacturers and retailers could make healthy food more accessible by, for example, introducing new healthy products or cutting the price difference between healthy and unhealthy products. This approach to winning over new consumers would also improve the company’s profitability.’

Companies are in a prime position to help consumers make healthier choices

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Win-win situation

In a previous study, Van Ittersum showed that consumers who were given a larger plate in a buffet restaurant took forty percent larger helpings of food than customers given a smaller plate. ‘Owners of buffet restaurants would do well to give their customers smaller plates’, suggested Van Ittersum. ‘Their customers will still be able to eat as much as they want, but the total amount of food served, consumed and wasted would drop considerably. It’s a win-win situation for customers and restaurant owners.’

Gut feeling

If businesses are to be persuaded to change their marketing tactics, it is important to understand how consumers respond to potential win-win strategies and to work out the financial implications. ‘Without thorough market research, a lot of businesses will continue to follow their gut feeling in fear of losing turnover or profits’, says Van Ittersum. ‘Marketeers are becoming increasingly interested in whether and how consumers respond to potential win-win strategies, so this is the type of research that my department will carry out during the next few years.’

More information

Contact: Koert van Ittersum, tel.: +31 (0)50 363 6639 or +31 (0)50 363 3686 (Secretariat)

Press release December 2013: ‘If you want to stay slim, use a smaller plate’

Last modified:11 May 2015 11.30 a.m.
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