Marketing your co-op

By the end of this section you should have a gained an understanding of:

  • An introduction to Marketing
  • The differences between Objectives, Strategy, Plan and Actions
  • Network Marketing – the co-operative advantage

What is Marketing?

According to the Chartered Institute of Marketing, "marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably." 

In practice, it includes: the ideas, the brand, how you communicate, the design, print process, measuring effectiveness, market research and the psychology of consumer behaviour.

Understanding customer needs

People often confuse Marketing with Communications or Promotion. They are fundamentally different in that Marketing is centred on understanding customer (and member) needs, and positioning your product or service to meet those needs. Communication is essentially a tool that conveys this positioning to the customers you’ve identified, and it can be delivered through traditional and non-traditional mechanisms – advertising, direct mail, events, social media.

An understanding of what customers and members need and value is central to marketing, with membership being crucial for a co-op – member needs are discussed more in the Membership section.

What does Marketing involve?

Essentially, Marketing covers:


You need to have a good understanding of your customer, member, product/service and the competition you face.

Marketing strategies

Once you understand your customer, member, product/service and the competition, you need to develop product, pricing, packaging, and distribution strategies to meet the interests of your customers and members.


Promotion includes all work that is designed to grab attention or inspire interest in your organisation or products. It includes social media, advertising, public relations, you website, etc.


Converting customer interest into purchases by making the right product or service available at the right time, in the right place and at the right price. 

Member engagement

The process of interacting with your members – discussed more in the Membership section.

Customer service 

Everything you do to make the customer interaction with your business positive, potentially increasing satisfaction and loyalty, encouraging repeat purchases and engendering positive word of mouth.

HR training

Co-operatives UK offers a number of one-day training courses for co-operatives – find out more.

Updated: 26/03/2019