Your company is growing steadily. You are a pioneer in your field, and pictures of your high-tech, super modern production line are making your competitors jealous. Everything is great… but it isn’t necessarily worth bragging about to your client.

 
 

For hundreds of years, the development of science and technology has evoked two extreme feelings in people: admiration and amazement, and on the other side, fear and nostalgia for the state of nature. Jean-Jacques Rousseau was one of the most important representatives of the second position. 

 

Rousseau believed, that man is inherently good by nature, and his corruption comes from technical development. That’s why the more modern or innovate, the worst.

 

At first sight, it’s hard to find any application for business here. For philosopher, man is better, when cut off from the technology. Wild, unknown tribes, that were discovered during his time, were for him perfect exemplation of pure perfection. On the other hand those who created money and private property, were their greatest enemy. 

 

Paradoxically, this creates huge marketing opportunities. The more you show that environmental issues are important to you, the better. If Rousseau was here to create your marketing strategy, he definitely would advise you to avoid portraying yourself as a cold technocrat, and instead to show more emotional, human side of business.

 

Rousseau was way ahead of his time. In his works, you can see signs of emerging new era – romanticism, in which emotions, not rational thinking, played the key role. 

 

This approach was criticized a lot, but I think everyone will agree that it is very popular. Who of us is not tired of the civilisation and wouldn’t like to escape in to the wilderness of nature? The key to using the Rousseau philosophy in business is to be aware of such a more or less hidden desire and to use it.

 

Respect the environment, focus on sustainable development and avoid pushing for profit at all costs. And then don’t forget to mention it on Facebook…  all of this, along with some illustrative examples, is the perfect marketing recipe, that french thinker would propose.

 

The french philosopher wondered how to bring back natural order in the society. He found solution in the upbringing, or rather restriction of it, so the personality can be freely express.

 

Every man knows what is good for him. Leading children by the hand and excessive rigour leads to pathology, not to mention impact of such a  behavior on adults! In business practice, this can be combated by giving the customer greater control over the product that they ultimately receive. Personalisations of any kind may seem like a stupid whim, but they embody the idea of returning to a supposed state of nature when everyone was their own master and did not have to accept the solutions of others as revealed truths.

 

Rousseau do not oppose the culture as a whole. He sees it as a paradoxical phenomenon which, on the one hand, is a destructive force destroying man, on the other, a frame in which he can fulfill himself. He proposes a system which would save the advantages of civilisation without throwing the baby out with the bathwater. 

 

The best system is a democracy in which everyone has as much freedom as he or she lays down the rules governing his or her own life. In conflict situations the universal will of the whole society was to enter – who identified with it was absolutely free.

 

Of course, such a system is not constant and unchangeable. This is another valuable lesson for us: what was wrong and unattractive yesterday could have changed its value today. Rousseau claims that there is no single, universal model of power, and he himself proposes a “over-model” that would regulate them all:

 

Whatever power there is, it is based on the will of the people, who have the right to revoke it at any time. Exactly the same as on the market!

 

Customers have different tastes, very often the current ones completely negate those from a few years ago. But in this chaotic struggle of different beliefs there is one principle that is sacred on the market: a constant rule of customer behavior is that there are no constant rules of the customers behavior! This is probably the most valuable lesson that a businessman can learn from the analysis of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s philosophy.