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Tutor profile: Tom D.

Tom D.
Expert in Marketing Strategy (MSc)

Questions

Subject: Marketing

TutorMe
Question:

Grand societal challenges like climate change, access to food and clean water, health and education require concerted and systemic efforts. Can businesses contribute to address grand challenges and unmet social needs? In your answer also outline the forms social innovation might take, and the reasons why marketing is so relevant for the success of social innovation.

Tom D.
Answer:

Capitalism is an engine for meeting human needs, improving efficiency, job creation, and building wealth (Sweezy 2004). The continuation of this notion is under threat as businesses realise their inability to contribute to grand challenges and unmet social needs (Porter & Kramer 2011). This response supports the view that businesses acting as businesses, not charitable donors, are the most crucial force for addressing grand challenges and unmet social needs (Porter & Kramer 2011). Businesses can pull from a firm's resources, scale at speed and build on business knowledge from a firm's headquarters (Simanis & Duke 2014). Businesses can address grand challenges and unmet social needs by focusing on the centre of their operations, not the margins (Porter & Kramer 2011). Grand societal challenges are defined, and the associated facets are discussed to demonstrate the difficulties that businesses face when contributing to solutions. The benefits of paradoxical thinking, and a departure from traditional leadership methods, are presented (Miron-Spektor et al. 2018). It is argued that paradoxical thinking increases the likelihood of close collaboration (Stamm 2012). Through this lens, the concept of shared value is introduced to demonstrate how considering social harm as an internal cost spurs social innovation, contributing to addressing grand challenges and unmet social needs (Porter & Kramer 2011). This point is further strengthened by considering B-Corporations, which drive sustainability and social innovation (Polman 2017). Three forms of social innovation are outlined, along with robust examples of businesses that have made significant contributions to addressing grand challenges and unmet social needs. The difficulties businesses may face when carrying out each form of innovation is critically discussed. The remarkable parallels between marketing and social innovation (Bhattacharya 2013) are presented to make clear that marketing principles and stakeholder centricity are significant in the field of social innovation. Grand societal challenges are characterised as those which are highly significant yet potentially solvable. Examples of grand challenges include urban poverty, insect-borne disease, global warming, economic inequality, digital divides, poverty, political instability, environmental degradation and global hunger (Eisenhardt et al. 2016; Schad & Smith 2019). Solutions are widely unknown; however, technical and social progress is necessary (Ferraro et al. 2015). Three main analytical facets of grand challenges are identified: complex, uncertain, and evaluative (Ferraro et al. 2015). Firstly, grand challenges are complex due to the extensive array of actors and how they interact (Dooley 1997). Root causes are assumed to be single actors but are more often systems and institutions (Sterman 2001). Solutions to those causes often expose or create new problems (Callon 1998). For example, the initial promotion of ethanol fuel was based on the energy source reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions. Ethanol came to be criticised as a "crime against humanity by the United Nations for diverting corn from feeding the poor" (United Nations 2007). Change and plurality can result in businesses making decisions most salient to them, which further limit resources. Car manufacturers seek to accommodate economic targets and regulatory carbon emissions by increasing efficiency, which creates new problems related to the scarcity of lithium, cobalt, and nickel batteries (Schad & Smith 2019). Interlocking issues result in dynamic and nonlinear grand challenges (Senge 1990). Literature suggests that overconfidence in salient solutions leads to new problems (Schad & Bansal 2018). Secondly, another facet of grand challenges is that they are radically uncertain. Outcomes of any possible solutions carry Knightian uncertainty (Ferraro et al. 2015). Knightian uncertainty occurs when it is impossible to give possible future states or assign probabilities (Knight 1921). Uncertainty is a result of a lack of information to form a basis for definitive decision making. New leadership methods that embrace inconsistencies are needed to address grand challenges (Schad & Smith 2019). For businesses to navigate this uncertainty, they must be 'consistently inconsistent' and act decisively committing to deliver for those on both sides of a tension (Smith 2014). Thirdly, grand challenges are evaluative, meaning they cut across boundaries and implicate multiple worthy criteria (Ferraro et al. 2015). It is not possible to define them as solely economic, political or social problems (Ansari et al. 2011). In addition, proposals for acceptable solutions differ between different actors (Landry 1995). It is argued that businesses can contribute to grand challenges and unmet social needs by moving away from traditional leadership models, which focus on a clear mission and communications, and fail to consider the variety of stakeholders and evaluation criteria.

Subject: Digital Media

TutorMe
Question:

Complete the 'customers' segment of a situational analysis of card retailer 'Banter Cards'.

Tom D.
Answer:

Historically, older generations are the keenest card buyers. Now, younger consumers aged 16-34 increasingly purchase (Viberg 2021). Banter Cards current customers are 82% female (Pyke 2017); most buy for friends (Viberg 2021). Following lockdown, 47% of shoppers agreed greetings cards are important (Vibeg 2021). Tapping into community-orientated trends offer opportunities to encourage spending. Millennials and Generation Z, the industry’s fastest-growing segments, want to disconnect (Ricapito 2020). 17% of 16-24-year olds sent a thank-you card in the past year, compared to 10% of those 55+ (Viberg, 2021). Gen Z sends unique greetings cards for non-occasions like anniversaries and exams (Bhojwani 2019). Both Gen Z and millennials have a heightened interest in well-being (Codd 2021). Well-being benefits of greetings cards for the sender and the receiver (Viberg 2021) inform this strategy. 83% of millennials seek brands that align with their values (Loeb 2020). Likewise, Gen Z is a less brand loyal (Hanbury 2021) diverse generation who seek inclusivity (Viberg 2021). The majority agree that people can be born one gender and feel like another (Germano 2020). Environmental concerns influence purchasing habits of 57% of consumers aged 18-29 (Robison 2019). Raising awareness of Banter Card’s inclusive LGBTQ values (Banter Cards 2021) and Forest Stewardship Council approval, meaning trees are planted for every 1000 cards sold (Ibid), informs this strategy. Young consumers increasingly buy cards on smartphones (Viberg 2021). Millennials and Gen Z consume 2 to 3 hours of social media daily (Rouwenhorst 2020). The Banter Cards website (Banter Cards 2021), albeit functional, is notably simpler than competitors’ sites but is well optimised for mobile. Social media will be a focus of this strategy alongside other tactics to guide consumers through the decision-making process.

Subject: Communication

TutorMe
Question:

Create an essay plan for the following question: What are some of the most exciting examples of data for good? Why? When addressing this question be sure to consider the strengths of the practices being discussed, real and potential impact, as well as social and/or political significance.

Tom D.
Answer:

The essay will argue that while the use of digital contact tracing has helped slow the transmission of COVID-19, it poses significant concerns surrounding data privacy and maintaining public trust (Ienca and Vayena, 2020). The essay will focus on China's 'health code' service as a specific case study, making other comparisons where beneficial. Traditional methods of contract tracing will be discussed along with a discussion of their key-related biases. These include vague or incomplete reporting of symptoms, citizen's often weak recollection of social interactions (Farrahi, Emonet and Cebrian, 2014), and lack of resources; which is significant with a disease with COVID-19 which has shown phases of expediential growth (Chappell, 2020). A comparison will be made between traditional contact tracing methods and digital contact tracing to highlight its strengths, with particular reference to how mobile phones are carried almost ubiquitously worldwide, regardless of socio-economic status (Wesolowski et al., 2012). It will be argued that digital contact tracing is a viable option, which potentially irons out many of the biases created by traditional contact tracing methods. Evidence from a scientific study, which found that the collection and comparison of large data-sets using algorithms uses fewer resources and tracks with a higher level of accuracy by using mobile phones as proxies for physical interaction networks; scientific evidence will be given to support this (Cho, Myers, and Leskovec, 2011). The response will outline the specific strengths of China's 'health code' system, regarding how it makes use of additional data previously held by government records; including plane, train and bus bookings (Mozur, Zhong, and Krolik, 2020). Another source also indicates the use of a citizen's health, location and financial data (Calvo, Deterding, and Ryan, 2020). It will be argued that China's 'digital society', in which data capture by government-backed applications is already widely accepted as a norm, puts China in a strong position. To provide critical analysis, the limitations of digital contact tracing will be discussed. It will be argued that digital contract tracing applications require relatively high levels of usage throughout a population to work effectively (UK health surveillance app will be controversial, 2020). High levels of uptake in China are attributed to two main factors. Firstly, China's 'health code' service relies on the use of QR codes, which are already heavily used on China's payment applications. Statistics to demonstrate how QR codes are firmly embedded into the workings of China's society will be given (Gao, Yang, Guo and Jing, 2018). Secondly, high levels of uptake in China will be attributed to restrictions on services for citizens who do not use the system (Ferretti et al., 2020). These restrictions will be considered through a comparison made with Singapore's contract tracing application, 'Trace Together', which is not compulsory and has had considerably lower levels of usage (The Economist, 2020). The potential impact of China's 'health code' system will be highlighted with careful consideration of the evolving situation surrounding China's reported number of cases and deaths. Despite this, the suggestion will be made that digital contact tracing has positive effects for public health by helping to suppress the transition of the disease. A comparison will also be made with South Korea, who have also implemented a digital contact tracing system. South Korea has seen considerably low transmission rates in comparison to Western countries who have not implemented digital contact tracing on the same scale or are yet to have launched the service (Ferretti et al., 2020). It will be argued that resistance to data use and collection varies by country. This will be supported by a study which found mistrust in authorities in the US resulted in higher levels of data resistance in comparison to countries like Singapore (Edelman, 2019). It will be proposed that one of the critical issues identified with China's 'health code' service results from data not only being shared with health authorities but also with the police. An analysis of the algorithm will be referenced to support this claim (Mozur, Zhong and Krolik, 2020). It will be argued that China's 'health code' system is essentially an exchange between freedom and privacy (Davidson, 2020); where freedom depends on the results of an algorithm, it will be argued accountability and transparency should be at the forefront. A poignant comparison will be made between China's 'health code' system and the criminal risk assessing algorithm in the US (Angwin, Larson, Mattu and Kirchner, 2016). This will demonstrate the risk and impact of biases occurring in algorithms that are not disclosed. It will be argued that the inability to hold undisclosed algorithms accountable could 'create new injustices and embed old ones' (Blacklaws, 2018). Reference will be made to recent reports of racism in China, particularly towards African communities being racially targeted over fears of COVID-19 spreading through African communities (Davidson, 2020). Evidence of previous use of advanced facial recognition technology for racial profiling in China will be presented; which is said to be the first known of technology for this purpose by a government (Mozur, 2019). It will be proposed that China's strict information control and media censorship makes it harder for citizens to hold algorithms to account. A comparison will be drawn with ProPublica's 'Machine Bias' article published in the US (Angwin, Larson, and Mattu, 2016). The inability to hold algorithms accountable in China will be attributed to the idea of 'networked authoritarianism' (MacKinnon, 2011). A recent example of journalist Li Zehua will be presented to demonstrate data resistance throughout China's response to COVID-19 (Kuo, 2020). It will be argued that a 'surveillance creep' (Calvo, Deterding and Ryan, 2020) is taking place in China. The idea that the normalization of intense surveillance within Western media is taking place will also be highlighted (Kuo, 2020). The essay will conclude by proposing that although evidence suggests digital contact tracing can have a positive impact on public health (Ferretti et al., 2020), algorithms should be transparent and held accountable to avoid biases which can lead to discrimination and lack of trust in authorities.

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