Review and analysis
A review and analysis of different marketing definitions.
By Mohamed Khalifa Ibrahim ESLSCA - MBA - Marketing Management Assignment # 1 IM05 - 7/28/2010
Review and analysis
efinitions applied to academic disciplines have important practical and symbolic implications. For future and current practitioners, a definition indicates certain training, qualifications, and competencies. A definition also serves to promote the legitimacy of a scholarly community in the eyes of other academics. At the societal level, formal definitions may subtly influence longer-term trends in commerce, public perception, and policy making. (1)
A number of attempts have been made to categorize definitions of “marketing” Crosier (1988) for example reviewed over than 50 definitions, placing them in to three broad categories, which are: a) Definitions that conceived of marketing as a process connecting the producer with its market via a marketing channel. b) Definitions that viewed marketing as a concept or philosophy of business. c) Definitions that viewed marketing as an orientation present to some degree in both consumer and producer the phenomenon which makes the process and the concept possible.(2) Marketing could be defined as an academic discipline with recognizable body of theory in relation to the issues study and processes.(2)
Each part of the marketing definition defines what marketing is and how it is practiced. To explain the marketing definitions, we need to examine the following important terms: needs, wants and demands; products and services; value, satisfaction and quality; exchange, transactions and relationships; and finally markets as shown in figure 1. (3)
Figure 1: shows that these core marketing concepts are linked, with each concept building on the one before it. †
We can distinguish between a social and a managerial definition of marketing, the social definition shows the role marketing plays in society, defined as “It is a societal process by which individuals and groups obtain what they need and want through creating, offering and freely exchanging products and services of value with others”. For managerial definition, marketing have been mainly described as “the art of selling products”. (4) In this essay, I review & analyze some marketing & marketing management definitions based on the 4 Ps, segmentation, targeting and positioning (STP) presented in a chronological manner, in addition to
† Adapted from P. Kotler, et al; Principles of Marketing; 4th European edition 2005.
providing a new definition of marketing management.
Definitions and Review
The marketing definition has been developed over time, nowadays marketing is based around providing continual benefits to the customer, these benefits will be provided and a transactional exchange will take place. There are many definitions of marketing. The better definitions are focused upon customer orientation and satisfaction of customer needs. Fred E. Clark – 1925* defined marketing as: “those efforts which effects transfer in the ownership of goods.” This definition illustrates the concept of marketing at that time, not involving customers needs, value or satisfaction, in addition the term goods and not mentioning services, illustrates the concept of this era “production concept”, the phrase “transfer the ownership” focuses on distribution excluding the rest of the 4 Ps and the segmentation, targeting or positioning. AMA** – 1948 defined marketing as “Marketing is the performance of business activities that direct the flow of goods and services from producers to consumers or user” This definition focuses on the distribution part of marketing and excluded the rest of the four P’s, here also there is no mentioning of the segmentation, neither targeting nor positioning, reflecting the era of selling concept, but in this definition the term consumer appeared for the first time.
Definitions are like belts. The shorter they are, the more elastic they need to be.
—Stephen Toulmin (1961, p. 18)
Levitt – 1960* defined marketing as “Selling is preoccupied with the seller’s need to convert his product into cash; marketing with the idea of satisfying the needs of the consumer by means of the product and the whole cluster of things associated with creating, delivering and finally consuming it” This definition shows the evolution in this era where the marketing concept starts, as it talks about satisfying consumer needs instead of the producer needs, segmentation, targeting and positioning presented by the word “creating”, also product, price and place were presented by the word “delivering”. Rodger – 1971* defined marketing as “Marketing is the primary management function which organizes and directs the aggregate of business activities involved in converting customer purchase power for a specific product or service into effective demand for specific product or service and in moving the product or service to final consumer or user so as to achieve company set profit or other objectives” This definition illustrates the management part of the definition as shown in words “management, organizing, and directs”, but the planning and controlling part of management are missing here, needs and demands of customers are presented in this definition but from the organization prospective, the segmentation, targeting and positioning are mentioned in a general way under the word “aggregate of business
* The Blackwell encyclopedic dictionary of marketing; Volume 4 September 1997. ** AMA = American Marketing Association
activities”, the McCarthy's 4 Ps not presented except for the distribution part. R. Bartles – 1970’s* defined marketing as “Marketing is the process whereby society, to supply its consumption needs, evolves distributive systems composed of participants, who, interacting under constraints - technical (economic) and ethical (social) - create the transactions or flows which resolve market separations and result in exchange and consumption.” This definition reckons the economic and social prospective of marketing. The part of needs is presented as a whole in “society, to supply its consumption needs” assuming that needs cannot vary from group of people to another, resulting in excluding the segmentation part and as a sequent targeting and positioning. Transaction and exchange are presented in a different way that they should be, excluding the 4 P’s, in my opinion this is the worst and most difficult to understand definition of marketing I’ve seen till now. Kotler – 1980 **defined marketing as “Marketing is the human activity directed at satisfying human needs and wants through an exchange process” In this definition Kotler generalized marketing from management or organizational activity to cover all man kind, satisfaction of needs and want is the core focus of this definition, the segmentation, targeting and positioning in addition of the McCarthy's 4’Ps are generalized under the word “human activity”, this definition is short easy to understand but too general. AMA – 1985 defined marketing as ”Marketing is the process of planning and
executing the conception, pricing, promotion, and distribution of ideas, goods and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organizational objectives”. In this definition, we can see the management part of marketing present in the words “planning and executing”, but the controlling, leading and organizing parts of management are missing from this definition, McCarthy's Four Ps are presented in a smooth sequence, the concept of satisfaction customers & organizational needs is introduced here for the first time together (Win-Win concept), the exchange process is also presented. Dennis Adcock –1993 **defined marketing as “The right product, in the right place, at the right time, at the right price” In this definition Adcock focused only on McCarthy's Four Ps in general but when digging deep inside it is also considering segmentation, targeting and positioning in addition to satisfaction of needs in the phrase “right product & right time”, also creating demand through adding the word “the right price”, there is no mentioning to the promotion part from the 4 Ps. Here the management part of the definition is also absent. Kotler et al – 1994 **defined marketing as "a social and managerial process by which individuals and groups obtain what they need and want through creating and exchanging products and value with others” This definition included both social and managerial aspects of marketing in addition to the core concepts of: Needs,
* The Blackwell encyclopedic dictionary of marketing; Volume 4 September 1997. ** Definitions adapted from www.marketingteacher.com
wants and demands with product, value and satisfaction, plus exchange and transaction, and finally market and marketing, within this exchange and transaction, customers will only exchange what they value, although the 4P’s and the STP are covered by the word “process”, but it still needs to be more clear. Roger Palmer – 2000* defined marketing as “Marketing is essentially about marshalling the resources of an organization so that they meet the changing needs of the customer on whom the organization depends” In this definition Palmer stated that the needs of customers are changing, focusing on the satisfaction of these needs but he omitted the 4 Ps and the STP, the management component of the definition is also absent. Kotler – 2002** defined marketing as “Marketing management as the art and science of applying core marketing concepts to choose target markets and get, keep, and grow customers through creating, delivering, and communicating superior customer value.” Here in this definition, the term “art and science” is too general, STP is presented clearly, while the idea of CRM is presented for the first time by the term “get, keep, and grow customers” alarming marketers that marketing is a continuous process not a single transaction, also the 4 Ps are presented under the words “delivering, and communicating”. AMA – 2004 defined marketing as “Marketing is an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating, and delivering value to customers and for managing
customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders.” Here in this definition STP is presented clearly under the term “creating”, while the idea of CRM is presented clearly by the name, also the 4 Ps are presented under the words “delivering, and communicating”. The management part of the definition is presented and not only focused on the marketing department but also it includes the whole organization but it excluded how to? As this definition is missing the (planning, organizing, leading and controlling) parts of the management concept. The phrase “set of processes” is good in that it covers the idea that marketing is not a single event but rather a combination of many activities. The “stakeholder” approach versus the previous focus on individuals and organizations is tricky because it enables the definition to incorporate a broad number of people or firms that interact with marketers or their offerings. AMA – 2007 defined marketing as “Marketing is 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.” In this definition the marketing is defined as an activity, where it surpasses the organizational frame, including the role marketing plays within society at large, or as a broader activity than the previous one did, in addition to the phrase “set of institutions, and processes” , where it includes the managerial part of the definition. This new the term “offering” refers that marketing is not just a commercial activity
* Definitions adapted from www.marketingteacher.com ** Kotler & Keller; Marketing management
used for products or services, it is also used by governments or NGOs to raise awareness or calling for a cause where they are not necessarily selling anything. The STP and the 4Ps are presented under the term “creating, communicating and delivering”, finally as the previous two definitions discussed here satisfaction of customers needs is not presented at all neither mentioning that these needs are dynamic and changing constantly. And here are some common definitions that are focused on just one specific area: Profitability: Barwell*defined marketing as “This customer focused philosophy is known as the 'marketing concept'. The marketing concept is a philosophy, not a system of marketing or an organizational structure. It is founded on the belief that profitable sales and satisfactory returns on investment can only be achieved by identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer needs and desires.” CIM** defined marketing as “Marketing is the management process that identifies, anticipates and satisfies customer requirements profitably” In this definition (as with Barwell's definition) it addresses not only identifying customer needs, but also satisfying them and anticipating them in the future. Also both definitions has an emphasis on profitability, ignoring that in the 21st century there are a lot of NGOs and governments that uses marketing not aiming to profit from it. The 4 Ps and the STP are all not represented in this definition.
Customer at the center of business: P. Drucker* defined marketing as “Marketing is not only much broader than selling, it is not a specialized activity at all It encompasses the entire business. It is the whole business seen from the point of view of the final result, that is, from the customer's point of view. Concern and responsibility for marketing must therefore permeate all areas of the enterprise.” In this definition Peter Drucker focuses mainly on the customer as the center of business, it is too general not covering the STP or the 4Ps, or the managerial component of the definition. Competitors surpassing: Jobber* defined marketing as “The achievement of corporate goals through meeting and exceeding customer needs better than the competition.” What is interesting in this definition is that Jobber is the only one addressed the issue of competitors while defining marketing. The 4 Ps and the STP also are not represented in this definition.
“Marketing is a social and managerial set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, leading to have the right product, in the right place, at the right time, at the right price, from the customers point of view, through identifying, anticipating, satisfying and exceeding customers’ dynamic needs and wants continuously better than the competition.”
* Definitions adapted from www.marketingteacher.com ** CIM = Chartered Institute of marketing.
In my opinion a successful marketer is the one who gain more customers more than competitors, through exceeding customers’ satisfaction, and anticipating future changing needs of those customers. In this definition STP is presented clearly under the term “creating”, while the 4 Ps are presented under the words “delivering, and communicating” , in addition to the phrase “set of institutions, and processes”, where it includes the managerial part of the definition. The term “offering” refers that marketing is not just a commercial activity used for products or services; it is also used by governments or NGOs, the term ”continuously” refers to the building up of CRM.
1- George M. Zinkhan & Brian C. Williams; The New American Marketing Association Definition of Marketing: An Alternative Assessment; Journal of Public Policy & Marketing; Vol. 26 (2) Fall 2007, 284–288. 2- Barbra R. Lewis & Dale littler; The Blackwell encyclopedic dictionary of marketing; Volume 4 September 1997. 3- P. Kotler, V. Wong, J. Saunders & G. Armstrong; th Principles of Marketing; 4 European edition 2005. 4- P. Kotler & K.L. Keller; Marketing management: th 12 edition 2007