I Stumbled Across This Excellent Dissertation

And it turns out to have been written by me, so I’m quoting myself.

In a discussion about capitalism, this was asked;

Does Need and Want enter the equation?
How does Marketing elbow it’s way in between Production and Consumption?

To which I replied;

Interesting question. I’d say that need and want are omnipresent in all interactions, but the basic equation is still the same. That production necessarily precedes consumption is obvious, whether or not the goods or services being consumed are both needed and wanted, or merely wanted. Each individual should be free to decided what he wants or needs to produce, what he wants or needs to consume, with whom he will trade, and how, in order to reach his goals. That includes the form of communication we call marketing.

Marketing is as old as humanity. Actually that’s a short sighted statement, because marketing, usually by males to potentially receptive females, has been going on for millennia in other species. Not sure where you’re going with that. I make widgets and want other people to buy them. They’ll never know I have these widgets available unless I advertize in some way. Often that advertizing is as difficult and expensive as the actual production but, just like the colorful feathers on the peacock, I can’t continue without it. If I believe my widgets are superior to widgets made by other producers, it is my want, my duty and my need to explain that superiority. That’s the communication between producer and potential consumer. That enables products of all descriptions to receive trial in the free market. The best performers will in the long run and overall, tend to win out over the lesser performers. Even products some people hate may do very well if there are enough who like them.

To the extent that the producer wants to produce and trade, and to the extent that the consumer wants and/or needs the product, marketing helps both.

If your thought is that marketing can and does steer people in directions they should not go, I would agree in many cases, though interference in that process can only have further negative consequences. Right at the start, legal interference denies the freedom that is the ideal in our society. Ultimately people are responsible for their personal choices, and reality will be the judge.

I may not like what some people spend their money on, I may not like the products some people offer, and I may not like how some people market their products. In a free society, that’s my tough luck. Everything has its costs, and the cost of liberty is that people I dislike may do things I dislike, so long as no one’s rights are being violated. Maybe instead I should find something to worry about that I can actually change. If I believe in my position passionately, I should have the freedom to get together with like-minded individuals and a) do better marketing of my own of a better product, or b) do an ad campaign of my own, warning others of the pitfalls of that other guy’s marketing. If I’m telling the truth, too bad for the other guy, and good for his unsuspecting customers. If I’m lying, he can sue me for defamation or some such, or his customers may ignore me.

The good thing about a truly free market (something no one alive has ever actually seen, by the way) is that people are free to make their own decisions. The bad thing about a free market is that people are free to make their own decisions. Our founding principles and documents acknowledge this dichotomy and uphold it as the ideal.

There are those who would put us in a situation where other people are making our decisions for us. That’s just trading retail bad decisions for wholesale bad decisions, with brute force being the operating system as opposed to free choice and rights protection. We know where that leads.