Public sector marketing – Indian Perspective

In plain and simple terms, marketing activities and strategies result in making products available that satisfy customers, while making profits for the companies that offer those products.

Marketing is a creative, ever-changing orchestration of all the activities needed to accomplish not only a focus on what the customer wants, but that this customer-orientation must also be balanced with the company’s objective of maintaining a profitable volume of sales in order for the company to continue to do business.

These definitions obviously focus on private sector businesses which might be offering goods and services to consumers. However, the marketing approach described above can be interpreted in generic terms so that it can apply equally well to non-private sector relationships between service providers and consumers. Examples of these relationships are the public service and the citizens and residents of a nation; trade unions and their members; university staff and students; the media and the reading, viewing and listening public. In each of these cases, a necessary condition for the service provider to be perceived to be successful is that the services provided satisfy the customers, i.e. there must be a customer orientation focus. In some non-business settings, while the profit aim is not paramount customer oriented focus is just as applicable. Certainly marketing is a creative, ever changing orchestration of the efficient customer orientation focus regardless of the type of the relationship between service provider and consumer.

Marketing in the public sector is significantly different than for profit, private sector marketing. Many techniques and strategies acceptable in the private sector are either frowned on in governments or must be modified to suit the many stakeholders in issues related to the public.

Although the professional staff of the centre have diverse experience in a wide range of marketing issues including marketing planning, marketing research, pricing and marketing audits, emphasis is placed on their expertise in social marketing, marketing in a cost recovery environment, partnerships and marketing strategy development.

The customer orientation focus must be emphasized, and it is inextricably linked with the philosophy of smart partnership between the service provider and the customer. India  has benefited from the establishment of a social compact primarily between the politicians, civil servants, private sector and trade unions.

This social compact provides the environment for customer orientation focus as each of the social partners attempts to collectively satisfy the needs of its customers in the spirit of national co-operative prosperity.

The concept of public-sector reform, to which much lip service is paid, but which has not been effectively implemented, would probably move faster if a marketing approach were adopted. There appears to be resistance to change because of a fear of the unknown and a potential threat to the status-quo related to the relinquishing of power and position and the apparent security which surrounds this. A customer orientation focus in the area of public sector reform could lead to increased efficiencies, stability and socioeconomic well-being for us all.