Marketing is the process of communicating the value of a product or service to customers, for selling that product or service.
From a societal point of view, marketing is the link between a society’s material requirements and its economic patterns of response. Marketing satisfies these needs and wants through exchange processes and building long term relationships. Marketing can be looked at as an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, delivering and communicating value to customers, and managing customer relationships in ways that also benefit the organization and its shareholders. Marketing is the science of choosing target markets through market analysis and market segmentation, as well as understanding consumer buying behavior and providing superior customer value.
There are five competing concepts under which organizations can choose to operate their business: the production concept, the product concept, the selling concept, the marketing concept, and the holistic marketing concept. The four components of holistic marketing are relationship marketing, internal marketing, integrated marketing, and socially responsive marketing. The set of engagements necessary for successful marketing management includes capturing marketing insights, connecting with customers, building strong brands, shaping the market offerings, delivering and communicating value, creating long-term growth, and developing marketing strategies and plans.
A firm in the market economy survives by producing goods that persons are willing and able to buy. Consequently, ascertaining consumer demand is vital for a firm’s future viability and even existence as a going concern. Many companies today have a customer focus (or market orientation). This implies that the company focuses its activities and products on consumer demands. Generally, there are three ways of doing this: the customer-driven approach, the market change identification approach and the product innovation approach.
In the consumer-driven approach, consumer wants are the drivers of all strategic marketing decisions. No strategy is pursued until it passes the test of consumer research. Every aspect of a market offering, including the nature of the product itself, is driven by the needs of potential consumers. The starting point is always the consumer. The rationale for this approach is that there is no reason to spend R&D (research and development) funds developing products that people will not buy. History attests to many products that were commercial failures in spite of being technological breakthroughs.
A formal approach to this customer-focused marketing is known as SIVA (Solution, Information, Value, Access). This system is basically the four Ps renamed and reworded to provide a customer focus. The SIVA Model provides a demand/customer-centric alternative to the well-known 4Ps supply side model (product, price, placement, promotion) of marketing management.
If any of the 4Ps were problematic or were not in the marketing factor of the business, the business could be in trouble and so other companies may appear in the surroundings of the company, so the consumer demand on its products will decrease. However, in recent years service marketing has widened the domains to be considered, contributing to the 7P’s of marketing in total. The other 3P’s of service marketing are: process, physical environment and people.
Some consider there to be a fifth “P”: positioning. Some qualifications or caveats for customer focus exist. They do not invalidate or contradict the principle of customer focus; rather, they simply add extra dimensions of awareness and caution to it.
In this sense, a firm’s marketing department is often seen as of prime importance within the functional level of an organization. Information from an organization’s marketing department would be used to guide the actions of other departments within the firm. As an example, a marketing department could ascertain (via marketing research) that consumers desired a new type of product, or a new usage for an existing product. With this in mind, the marketing department would inform the R&D (research and development) department to create a prototype of a product or service based on the consumers’ new desires.
The production department would then start to manufacture the product, while the marketing department would focus on the promotion, distribution, pricing, etc. of the product. Additionally, a firm’s finance department would be consulted, with respect to securing appropriate funding for the development, production and promotion of the product. Inter-departmental conflicts may occur, should a firm adhere to the marketing orientation. Production may oppose the installation, support and servicing of new capital stock, which may be needed to manufacture a new product. Finance may oppose the required capital expenditure, since it could undermine a healthy cash flow for the organization.
Herd behavior in marketing is used to explain the dependencies of customers’ mutual behavior. The Economist reported a recent conference in Rome on the subject of the simulation of adaptive human behavior. It shared mechanisms to increase impulse buying and get people “to buy more by playing on the herd instinct.”
The basic idea is that people will buy more of products that are seen to be popular, and several feedback mechanisms to get product popularity information to consumers are mentioned, including smart card technology and the use of Radio Frequency Identification Tag technology. A “swarm-moves” model was introduced by a Florida Institute of Technology researcher, which is appealing to supermarkets because it can “increase sales without the need to give people discounts.” Other recent studies on the “power of social influence” include an “artificial music market in which some 19,000 people downloaded previously unknown songs” (Columbia University, New York); a Japanese chain of convenience stores which orders its products based on “sales data from department stores and research companies;” a Massachusetts company exploiting knowledge of social networking to improve sales; and online retailers such as Amazon.com who are increasingly informing customers about which products are popular with like-minded customers.
Marketing research involves conducting research to support marketing activities, and the statistical interpretation of data into information. This information is then used by managers to plan marketing activities, gauge the nature of a firm’s marketing environment and attain information from suppliers. Marketing researchers use statistical methods such as quantitative research, qualitative research, hypothesis tests, Chi-squared tests, linear regression, correlations, frequency distributions, poison distributions, binomial distributions, etc. to interpret their findings and convert data into information. The marketing research process spans a number of stages, including the definition of a problem, development of a research plan, collection and interpretation of data and disseminating information formally in the form of a report. The task of marketing research is to provide management with relevant, accurate, reliable, valid, and current information.
A distinction should be made between marketing research and market research. Market research pertains to research in a given market. As an example, a firm may conduct research in a target market, after selecting a suitable market segment. In contrast, marketing research relates to all research conducted within marketing. Thus, market research is a subset of marketing research.
Staying ahead of the consumer is an important part of a marketer’s job. It is important to understand the “marketing environment” in order to comprehend the consumers concerns, motivations and to adjust the product according to the consumers needs. Marketers use the process of marketing environmental scans, which continually acquires information on events occurring out side the organization to identify trends, opportunities and threats to a business. The six key elements of a marketing scan are the demographic forces, sociocultural forces, economic forces, regulatory forces, competitive forces, and technological forces. Marketers must look at where the threats and opportunities stem from in the world around the consumer to maintain a productive and profitable business.
The market environment is a marketing term and refers to factors and forces that affect a firm’s ability to build and maintain successful relationships with customers. Three levels of the environment are: Micro (internal) environment – forces within the company that affect its ability to serve its customers. Meso environment – the industry in which a company operates and the industry’s market(s). Macro (national) environment – larger societal forces that affect the micro-environment.
Market segmentation pertains to the division of a market of consumers into persons with similar needs and wants. For instance, Kellogg’s cereals, Frosties are marketed to children. Crunchy Nut Cornflakes are marketed to adults. Both goods denote two products which are marketed to two distinct groups of persons, both with similar needs, traits, and wants. In another example, Sun Micro systems can use market segmentation to classify its clients according to their promptness to adopt new products.
Market segmentation allows for a better allocation of a firm’s finite resources. A firm only possesses a certain amount of resources. Accordingly, it must make choices (and incur the related costs) in servicing specific groups of consumers. In this way, the diversified tastes of contemporary Western consumers can be served better. With growing diversity in the tastes of modern consumers, firms are taking note of the benefit of servicing a multiplicity of new markets.
Market segmentation can be viewed as a key dynamic in interpreting and executing a logical perspective of Strategic Marketing Planning. The manifestation of this process is considered by many traditional thinkers to include the following; Segmenting, Targeting and Positioning.
The marketing planning process involves forging a plan for a firm’s marketing activities. A marketing plan can also pertain to a specific product, as well as to an organization’s overall marketing strategy. Generally speaking, an organization’s marketing planning process is derived from its overall business strategy. Thus, when top management are devising the firm’s strategic direction or mission, the intended marketing activities are incorporated into this plan. There are several levels of marketing objectives within an organization. The senior management of a firm would formulate a general business strategy for a firm. However, this general business strategy would be interpreted and implemented in different contexts throughout the firm.
The field of marketing strategy considers the total marketing environment and its impacts on a company or product or service. The emphasis is on “an in depth understanding of the market environment, particularly the competitors and customers.”
A given firm may offer numerous products or services to a marketplace, spanning numerous and sometimes wholly unrelated industries. Accordingly, a plan is required in order to effectively manage such products. Evidently, a company needs to weigh up and ascertain how to utilize its finite resources. For example, a start-up car manufacturing firm would face little success should it attempt to rival Toyota, Ford, Nissan, Chevrolet, or any other large global car maker. Moreover, a product may be reaching the end of its life-cycle. Thus, the issue of divest, or a ceasing of production, may be made. Each scenario requires a unique marketing strategy. Listed below are some prominent marketing strategy models.
A marketing strategy differs from a marketing tactic in that a strategy looks at the longer term view of the products, goods, or services being marketed. A tactic refers to a shorter term view. Therefore, the mailing of a postcard or sales letter would be a tactic, but changing marketing channels of distribution, changing the pricing, or promotional elements used would be considered a strategic change.
A marketing firm must ascertain the nature of customers’ buying behavior if it is to market its product properly. In order to entice and persuade a consumer to buy a product, marketers try to determine the behavioral process of how a given product is purchased. Buying behavior is usually split into two prime strands, whether selling to the consumer, known as business-to-consumer (B2C), or to another business, known as business-to-business (B2B).
Use of technology
Marketing management can also rely on various technologies within the scope of its marketing efforts. Computer-based information systems can be employed, aiding in better processing and storage of data. Marketing researchers can use such systems to devise better methods of converting data into information, and for the creation of enhanced data gathering methods. Information technology can aid in enhancing an MKIS’ software and hardware components, and improve a company’s marketing decision-making process.
In recent years, the notebook personal computer has gained significant market share among laptops, largely due to its more user-friendly size and portability. Information technology typically progresses at a fast rate, leading to marketing managers being cognizant of the latest technological developments. Moreover, the launch of smart phones into the cell phone market is commonly derived from a demand among consumers for more technologically advanced products. A firm can lose out to competitors should it ignore technological innovations in its industry.
Technological advancements can lessen barriers between countries and regions. Using the World Wide Web, firms can quickly dispatch information from one country to another without much restriction. Prior to the mass usage of the Internet, such transfers of information would have taken longer to send, especially if done via snail mail, telex, etc.
Recently, there has been a large emphasis on data analytics. Data can be mined from various sources such as online forms, mobile phone applications and more recently, social media.
Appleton Greene has a number of standard and bespoke corporate training programs available which focus upon marketing. These programs enable clients to implement practical business processes that are designed to ensure that marketing improvements are professionally researched and developed, effectively implemented and consistently managed over a sustainable period of time.
Appleton Greene also has a variety of Learning Providers and Consultants with specific expertise and experience relating to marketing process re-engineering, improvement and sustainability.