What does Marketing Orientation really mean?

In the early 1970s, Theodore Levitt and others at Harvard argued that the sales orientation had things backward. They claimed that instead of producing products then trying to sell them to the customer, businesses should start with the customer, find out what they wanted, and then produce it for them. The customer became the driving force behind all strategic business decisions. The marketing orientation is perhaps the most common orientation used in contemporary marketing. Market orientation is the organization-wide generation of market intelligence pertaining to current and future customer needs, dissemination of this intelligence across departments, and organization wide responsiveness to it. It involves a firm essentially basing its marketing plans around the marketing concept and, thus, supplying products to suit new consumer tastes. As an example, a firm would employ market research to gauge consumer desires, use R & D (research and development) to develop a product attuned to the revealed information, and then utilize promotion techniques to ensure consumers know the product exists. Market orientation also involves monitoring competitors' actions and their effect on customer preferences, as well as analyzing the effect of other exogenous factors. This can be achieved with market research, contacting surveys or interviews with prospective customers in order to identify their needs and preferences and also receive an update on your competitors' products or services. Marketing orientation, in the decades since its introduction, has been reformulated and repackaged under numerous names including customer orientation, marketing philosophy, customer intimacy, customer focus, customer driven, and market focused.

Business orientations are classified into the following groups: Production Orientation, Product Orientation, Sales Orientation, and Market Orientation. Production Orientation Dominated the business landscapes of the industrial revolution and mid 1900′s; this is where a company is heavily focused on streamlining production processes and concentrating on improvement efficiencies with little focus on anything else. Scenario: We can build a car for you, but it comes in black only.

Product Orientation – An approach to business that centres its activities on continually improving and refining its products. All efforts are put into making the product better. Scenario: We can offer you non-chip paint on your car.

Similar to production orientation, the product orientation of marketing focuses solely on the product a company intends to sell. This orientation was popular during the 1950s and into the 1960s. A firm employing a product orientation is chiefly concerned with the quality of its product. A firm such as this would assume that as long as its product was of a high standard, people would buy and consume the product. This approach stresses the research and development of products and the continuous evolution during their life cycles (Figure 1), in order to maintain the attention of potential customers. Under the product orientation, management focuses on developing high quality products which can be sold at the right price, but with insufficient attention to what it is that customers really need and want. The premises implicit in this orientation include: Consumers buy products more than solutions. Consumers are interested in product quality. Consumers recognize product quality and differences in the performance of alternative products.

Consumers choose between different products based on getting the best quality for the price paid. The main task of an organization utilizing the product orientation approach is to continue improving quality and reducing costs as key factors in the fight to maintain and attract customers. Adopting the product orientation can be advantageous to a company, due to the fact that the cost of determining consumer preferences and the development of new products and services are minimized or eliminated because consumers are in some way captive. Product orientation assumes a developing or closed economy where few, if any, choices are available. There are disadvantages to the product model, however. As soon as a competing company can offer a product more oriented to the satisfaction of customers' needs and desires, the companies undertaking product orientation will lose most if not all of its market share.

Sales Orientation - Some businesses see their main problem as not selling enough of the product or services which they already have available, hence predominantly focusing on sales and selling techniques. As a result these organisations operate as Sales Oriented companies. A sales orientated business pays little attention to customer needs and wants and is more concerned about selling. Scenario: If you sign up for the car now we’ll throw in a sunroof. When a business bases its ability to make profits on using powerful selling techniques to persuade people to buy its products, rather than on customer needs. Market Orientation – This is a culture rather than an individual process. It’s the norms, mindsets, values and behaviours of employers; alongside the structure, systems and control of the organisation. Marketing oriented businesses define their activities as service activities carried out towards the satisfaction of their customers. In other words they define their operation as a service business with customer service being the most important activity. They are driven by customer needs which are identified in their objectives. Scenario: We’ll make your car in whatever colour you choose. A marketing orientated approach means a business reacts to what customers want. The decisions taken are based around information about customers’ needs and wants, rather than what the business thinks is right for the customer. Most successful businesses take a market-orientated approach. Most markets are moving towards a more market-orientated approach because customers have become more knowledgeable and require more variety and better quality. To compete, businesses need to be more sensitive to their customers’ needs; otherwise they w ill lose sales to competitors. Take the current global car markets; the idea that car manufacturers can create a product and sell its features to the eagerly waiting buying public is no longer an option. With an increasingly global economy and more and more choices for consumers, companies must be willing to adapt their market orientation to stay competitive. When to use it? Use market orientations when you want to understand, anticipate and satisfy your customer needs. You may already be operating somewhere in-between orientations. Companies can be anywhere on the spectrum as well as having different products at different orientations.

What does it achieve? A sense of what customers want Links customers needs to company capabilities Builds relationships Creates vision Greater internal marketing and communications Tracking and information systems for further research and evaluation Key steps: Audit and analyse current orientation Decide on strategy Implement full marketing mix Evaluate and control What does Marketing Orientation really mean? Business orientations are classified into the following groups: Production Orientation, Product Orientation, Sales Orientation, and Market Orientation. Production Orientation Dominated the business landscapes of the industrial revolution and mid 1900′s; this is where a company is heavily focused on streamlining production processes and concentrating on improvement efficiencies with little focus on anything else. Scenario: We can build a car for you, but it comes in black only. Product Orientation - An approach to business that centres its activities on continually improving and refining its products. All efforts are put into making the product better. Scenario: We can offer you non-chip paint on your car. Sales Orientation - Some businesses see their main problem as not selling enough of the product or services which they already have available, hence predominantly focusing on sales and selling techniques. As a result these organisations operate as Sales Oriented companies. A sales orientated business pays little attention to customer needs and wants and is more concerned about selling. Scenario: If you sign up for the car now we’ll throw in a sunroof. When a business bases its ability to make profits on using powerful selling techniques to persuade people to buy its products, rather than on customer needs. Market Orientation – This is a culture rather than an individual process. It’s the norms, mindsets, values and behaviours of employers; alongside the structure, systems and control of the organisation. Marketing oriented businesses define their activities as service activities carried out towards the satisfaction of their customers. In other words they define their operation as a service business with customer service being the most important activity. They are driven by customer needs which are identified in their objectives. Scenario: We’ll make your car in whatever colour you choose. A marketing orientated approach means a business reacts to what customers want. The decisions taken are based around information about customers’ needs and wants, rather than what the business thinks is right for the customer. Most successful businesses take a market-orientated approach. Most markets are moving towards a more market-orientated approach because customers have become more knowledgeable and require more variety and better quality. To compete, businesses need to be more sensitive to their customers’ needs; otherwise they w ill lose sales to competitors.

Take the current global car markets; the idea that car manufacturers can create a product and sell its features to the eagerly waiting buying public is no longer an option. With an increasingly global economy and more and more choices for consumers, companies must be willing to adapt their market orientation to stay competitive. When to use it? Use market orientations when you want to understand, anticipate and satisfy your customer needs. You may already be operating somewhere in-between orientations. Companies can be anywhere on the spectrum as well as having different products at different orientations. What does it achieve? A sense of what customers want Links customers needs to company capabilities Builds relationships Creates vision Greater internal marketing and communications Tracking and information systems for further research and evaluation Key steps: Audit and analyse current orientation Decide on strategy Implement full marketing mix Evaluate and control

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