The challenge of common well-being rewrites marketing paradigms

4 min read

“The cunning rabbit’s hole always has three exits,” goes an old Chinese adage. In short, there is always a choice we can make to make a difference. Giacomo Stefanini and Michele Fenoglio know this well, both young entrepreneurs born in 1989, with a degree from Bocconi in their pockets and a path behind them that led them to abandon a career as international managers paved with successes in P&G and Unilever to start a company that has become benefits and B-corps. «We focus on transparency and concrete commitments. We need to go beyond clichés, implementing sustainable models for a competitive advantage distributed to all. In our small way we try to create a positive impact for people and maximize common well-being”, says Michele Fenoglio, co-founder with Stefanini of Wami, a portmanteau of water and mission.

It is one of the first Italian B-corps, founded in 2016 and which is rethinking water consumption. Headquarters in Milan, a dozen collaborators for a turnover of 2.3 million euros and a commitment that is expressed in 58 concrete aids distributed in disadvantaged areas. The minimally mineralized water flows pure from the Rocciaviva spring in the Maritime Alps, at an altitude of 1,300 metres. And it brings with it a mission: to transform daily actions into extraordinary undertakings: for every bottle of Wami purchased, drinking water is donated with sustainable products and projects. «Every time you drink from us you donate water around the world. We work to ensure that everyone has equal access to water”, specifies Fenoglio. Another feat is possible among the social streams we inhabit every day. It takes time, but it can be done. After all, a better future is built day after day, drop by drop. They know this well in Wami: the team has built more than 50 aqueducts, giving access to drinking water forever to over 69 thousand people, donating 9 billion liters in Africa, South America and Asia. The projects were implemented in Tanzania, Guinea Bissau, Senegal, Madagascar, Kenya, Ethiopia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Sri Lanka.

Business as a common good

Far from the silos and ivory towers of the past. The winning contemporary business is a complex and plural ecosystem. Moreover. It is in a seamless conversation that addresses social and environmental challenges and deploys entrepreneurial marketing, which is a whole different ballgame from professional marketing.

This is what Philip Kotler puts down in black and white in his new book “Entrepreneurial Marketing”, published in Italy by Hoepli with a preface by Paolo Iabichino. The more necessary challenge than ever is to put into practice “the enterprise that is conscious and attentive to humanity”, as the American writer Henry David Thoreau, precursor of the first forms of environmentalism, wrote in the 19th century. «Entrepreneurial marketing resolves an unresolved issue for those who do this profession because “entrepreneurship is both a destiny and a vocation”, as Giuseppe Berta reports, while marketing is a profession. In many years among the corridors of companies I have not yet come across marketers surrounded by the sacred fire of their vocation. But today this profession can play a leading role in overcoming the challenges on the agendas of those who do business. On the one hand, these agendas are dictated by the new generations of consumers, on the other there is a new class of marketers who are making their own the same urgencies of those who buy”, states Iabichino. Thus the profiles of those who design new marketing campaigns should veer towards responsibility, community and sustainability. «It is sustainability seen as a whole: environmental, economic, social. The seventeen UN ESG objectives ask companies and institutions for a virtuous alliance to make up for – or rather compensate for – the shortcomings, the damage, the inattention that governments and markets have perpetrated for years on the backs of the environment, people and more fragile communities. For years, marketing has worked on consumer insights to build needs, now it’s a matter of choosing the most urgent social, cultural and economic tensions, bringing them into one’s business models and managing the company for the common good. It is still profit, but here shareholders and stakeholders dialogue for a shared interest which can no longer be profit as an end in itself”, specifies Iabichino.

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