Marketing is the study and management of exchange relationships. It is the business process of creating relationships with and satisfying customers. Because marketing is used to attract customers, it is one of the primary components of business management and commerce. Marketers can direct product to other businesses (B2B marketing) or directly to consumers (B2C marketing).
Regardless of who is being marketed to, several factors, including the perspective the marketers will use. These market orientations determine how marketers will approach the planning stage of marketing. This leads into the marketing mix, which outlines the specifics of the product and how it will be sold. This can in turn, be affected by the environment surrounding the product, the results of marketing research and market research, and the characteristics of the product's target market.
Once these factors are determined, marketers must then decide what methods will be used to market the product. This decision is based on the factors analyzed in the planning stage as well as where the product is in the product life cycle.
Marketing is defined by the American Marketing Association as "the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large". The term developed from the original meaning which referred literally to going to market with goods for sale. From a sales process engineering perspective, marketing is "a set of processes that are interconnected and interdependent with other functions of a business aimed at achieving customer interest and satisfaction".
Philip Kotler defined marketing as "Satisfying needs and wants through an exchange process", and a decade later defines it as “a social and managerial process by which individuals and groups obtain what they want and need through creating, offering and exchanging products of value with others.”
The Chartered Institute of Marketing defines marketing as "the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably". A similar concept is the value-based marketing which states the role of marketing to contribute to increasing shareholder value. In this context, marketing can be defined as "the management process that seeks to maximise returns to shareholders by developing relationships with valued customers and creating a competitive advantage".
In the past, marketing practice tended to be seen as a creative industry, which included advertising, distribution and selling. However, because the academic study of marketing makes extensive use of social sciences, psychology, sociology, mathematics, economics, anthropology and neuroscience, the profession is now widely recognized as a science, allowing numerous universities to offer Master-of-Science (MSc) programs.
The process of marketing is that of bringing a product to market, which includes these steps: broad market research; market targeting and market segmentation; determining distribution, pricing and promotion strategies; developing a communications strategy; budgeting; and visioning long-term market development goals. Many parts of the marketing process (e.g. product design, art director, brand management, advertising, inbound marketing, copywriting etc.) involve use of the creative arts.
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F.A.Q about Marketing
What the differences between B2B and B2C Marketing?
The different goals of B2B and B2C marketing lead to differences in the B2B and B2C markets. The main differences in these markets are demand, purchasing volume, amount of customers, customer concentration, distribution, buying nature, buying influences, negotiations, reciprocity, leasing and promotional methods.
Demand: B2B demand is derived because businesses buy products based on how much demand there is for the final consumer product. Businesses buy products based on customer's wants and needs. B2C demand is primarily because customers buy products based on their own wants and needs.
Purchasing Volume: Businesses buy products in large volumes to distribute to consumers. Consumers buy products in smaller volumes suitable for personal use.
Amount of Customers: There are relatively fewer businesses to market to than direct consumers.
Customer Concentration: Businesses that specialize in a particular market tend to be geographically concentrated while customers that buy products from these businesses are not concentrated.
Distribution: B2B products pass directly from the producer of the product to the business while B2C products must additionally go through a wholesaler or retailer.
Buying Nature: B2B purchasing is a formal process done by professional buyers and sellers while B2C purchasing is informal.
Buying Influences: B2B purchasing is influenced by multiple people in various departments such as quality control, accounting, and logistics while B2C marketing is only influenced by the person making the purchase and possibly a few others.
Negotiations: In B2B marketing, negotiating for lower prices or added benefits is commonly accepted while in B2C marketing (particularly in Western cultures) prices are fixed.
Reciprocity: Businesses tend to buy from businesses they sell to. For example, a business that sells printer ink is more likely to buy office chairs from a supplier that buys the business's printer ink. In B2C marketing, this does not occur because consumers are not also selling products.
Leasing: Businesses tend to lease expensive items while consumers tend to save up to buy expensive items.
Promotional Methods: In B2B marketing, the most common promotional method is personal selling. B2C marketing mostly uses sales promotion, public relations, advertising, and social media.
What are marketing orientations?
A marketing orientation has been defined as a "philosophy of business management." or "a corporate state of mind" or as an "organization[al] culture". Although scholars continue to debate the precise nature of specific orientations that inform marketing practice, the most commonly cited orientations are as follows:
A firm employing a product orientation is mainly concerned with the quality of its product. A product orientation is based on the assumption that all things being equal, consumers will purchase products of superior quality. The approach is most effective when the firm has deep insights into customer needs and desires as derived from research and/or intuition and understands consumer's quality expectations and price consumers are willing to pay. Although the product orientation has largely been supplanted by the marketing orientation, firms practicing a product orientation can still be found in haute couture and arts marketing.
A sales orientation focuses on the selling/promotion of the firm's existing products, rather than developing new products to satisfy unmet needs or wants. This orientation seeks to attain the highest possible sales through promotion and direct sales techniques. The sales orientation "is typically practiced with unsought goods." One study found that industrial companies are more likely to hold a sales orientation than consumer goods companies. The approach may also suit scenarios in which a firm holds dead stock, or otherwise sells a product that is in high demand, with little likelihood of changes in consumer tastes diminishing demand.
A 2011 meta-analyses found that the factors with the greatest impact on sales performance are a salesperson's sales-related knowledge (knowledge of market segments, sales presentation skills, conflict resolution, and products), degree of adaptiveness (changing behavior based on the aforementioned knowledge), role clarity (salesperson's role is to expressly to sell), cognitive aptitude (intelligence) and work engagement (motivation and interest in a sales role).
A firm focusing on a production orientation specializes in producing as much as possible of a given product or service in order to achieve economies of scale or economies of scope. A production orientation may be deployed when a high demand for a product or service exists, coupled with certainty that consumer tastes and preferences remain relatively constant (similar to the sales orientation). The so-called production era is thought to have dominated marketing practice from the 1860s to the 1930s, but other theorists argue that evidence of the production orientation can still be found in some companies or industries. Specifically, Kotler and Armstrong note that the production philosophy is "one of the oldest philosophies that guides sellers... [and] is still useful in some situations."
The marketing orientation is the most common orientation used in contemporary marketing. It is a customer-centric approach that involves a firm basing its marketing program around products that suit new consumer tastes. Firms adopting a marketing orientation typically engage in extensive market research to gauge consumer desires, use R&D (Research & Development) to develop a product attuned to the revealed information, and then utilize promotion techniques to ensure consumers are aware of the product's existence and the benefits it can deliver. Scales designed to measure a firm's overall market orientation have been developed and found to be robust in a variety of contexts.
The marketing orientation has three prime facets, which are:
Customer orientation: A firm in the market economy can survive by producing goods that people 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.
Organizational orientation: The marketing department is of prime importance within the functional level of an organization. Information from the marketing department is used to guide the actions of a company's other departments.
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 department to create a prototype of a product/service based on 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. Finance may oppose the required capital expenditure since it could undermine a healthy cash flow for the organization.
Mutually beneficial exchange: In a transaction in the market economy, a firm gains revenue, which thus leads to more profits, market shares, and/or sales. A consumer, on the other hand, gains the satisfaction of a need/want, utility, reliability and value for money from the purchase of a product or service.
A number of scholars and practitioners have argued that marketers have a greater social responsibility than simply satisfying customers and providing them with superior value. Marketing organizations that have embraced the societal marketing concept typically identify key stakeholder groups such as employees, customers, and local communities. Companies that adopt a societal marketing perspective typically practice triple bottom line reporting whereby they publish social impact and environmental impact reports alongside financial performance reports. Sustainable marketing or green marketing is an extension of societal marketing.