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The marketing concept is the philosophy that firms should analyze the needs of their customers and then make decisions to satisfy those needs, better than the competition. Today most firms have adopted the marketing concept, but this has not always been the case. In 1776 in The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith wrote that the needs of producers should be considered only with regard to meeting the needs of consumers. While this philosophy is consistent with the marketing concept, it would not be adopted widely until nearly 200 years later. To better understand the marketing concept, it is worthwhile to put it in perspective by reviewing other philosophies that once were predominant. While these alternative concepts prevailed during different historical time frames, they are not restricted to those periods and are still practiced by some firms today. The Production Concept The production concept, one of the oldest in business, holds that consumers prefer products that are widely available and inexpensive. Managers of production-oriented businesses concentrate on achieving high production efficiency, low costs, and mass distribution. This orientation makes sense in developing countries, where consumers are more interested in obtaining the product than in its features. It is also used when a company wants to expand the market. Texas Instruments is a leading exponent of this concept. It concentrates on building production volume and upgrading technology in order to bring costs down, leading to lower prices and expansion of the market. This orientation has also been a key strategy of many Japanese companies. The production concept prevailed from the time of the industrial revolution until the early 1920's. The production concept was the idea that a firm should focus on those products that it could produce most efficiently and that the creation of a supply of low-cost products would in and of itself creates the demand for the products. The key questions that a firm would ask before producing a product were: • • Can we produce the product? Can we produce enough of it?
At the time, the production concept worked fairly well because the goods that were produced were largely those of basic necessity and there was a relatively high level of unfulfilled demand. Virtually everything that could be produced was sold easily by a sales team whose job it was simply to execute transactions at a price determined by the cost of production. The production concept prevailed into the late 1920's. The Product Concept Other businesses are guided by the product concept, which holds that consumers favor those products that offer the most quality, performance, or innovative features. Managers in these organizations focus on making superior products and improving them over time, assuming that buyers can appraise quality and performance. Product-oriented companies often design their products with little or no customer input, trusting that their engineers can design Marketing Management - 1 MBA
exceptional products. A General Motors executive said years ago: “How can the public know what kind of car they want until they see what is available?” GM today asks customers what they value in a car and includes marketing people in the very beginning stages of design. However, the product concept can lead to marketing myopia. Railroad management thought that travelers wanted trains rather than transportation and overlooked the growing competition from airlines, buses, trucks, and automobiles. Colleges, department stores, and the post office all assume that they are offering the public the right product and wonder why their sales slip. These organizations too often are looking into a mirror when they should be looking out of the window. The Selling Concept The selling concept, another common business orientation, holds that consumers and businesses, if left alone, will ordinarily not buy enough of the organization’s products. The organization must, therefore, undertake an aggressive selling and promotion effort. This concept assumes that consumers must be coaxed into buying, so the company has a battery of selling and promotion tools to stimulate buying. The selling concept is practiced most aggressively with unsought goods—goods that buyers normally do not think of buying, such as insurance and funeral plots. The selling concept is also practiced in the nonprofit area by fund-raisers, college admissions offices, and political parties. Most firms practice the selling concept when they have overcapacity. Their aim is to sell what they make rather than make what the market wants. In modern industrial economies, productive capacity has been built up to a point where most markets are buyer markets (the buyers are dominant) and sellers have to scramble for customers. Prospects are bombarded with sales messages. As a result, the public often identifies marketing with hard selling and advertising. But marketing based on hard selling carries high risks. By the early 1930's however, mass production had become commonplace, competition had increased, and there was little unfulfilled demand. Around this time, firms began to practice the sales concept (or selling concept), under which companies not only would produce the products, but also would try to convince customers to buy them through advertising and personal selling. Before producing a product, the key questions were: • • Can we sell the product? Can we charge enough for it?
The sales concept paid little attention to whether the product actually was needed; the goal simply was to beat the competition to the sale with little regard to customer satisfaction. Marketing was a function that was performed after the product was developed and produced, and many people came to associate marketing with hard selling. Even today, many people use the word "marketing" when they really mean sales. The Marketing Concept After World War II, the variety of products increased and hard selling no longer could be relied upon to generate sales. With increased discretionary income, customers could afford to be selective and buy only those products that precisely met their changing needs, and these needs were not immediately obvious. The key questions became: Marketing Management - 1 MBA
• • •
What do customers want? Can we develop it while they still want it? How can we keep our customers satisfied?
In response to these discerning customers, firms began to adopt the marketing concept, which involves: • • • Focusing on customer needs before developing the product Aligning all functions of the company to focus on those needs Realizing a profit by successfully satisfying customer needs over the longterm
When firms first began to adopt the marketing concept, they typically set up separate marketing departments whose objective it was to satisfy customer needs. Often these departments were sales departments with expanded responsibilities. While this expanded sales department structure can be found in some companies today, many firms have structured themselves into marketing organizations having a company-wide customer focus. Since the entire organization exists to satisfy customer needs, nobody can neglect a customer issue by declaring it a "marketing problem" - everybody must be concerned with customer satisfaction. The marketing concept holds that the key to achieving organizational goals consists of the company being more effective than its competitors in creating, delivering, and communicating customer value to its chosen target markets. Theodore Levitt of Harvard drew a perceptive contrast between the selling and marketing concepts: “Selling focuses on the needs of the seller; marketing on the needs of the buyer. Selling is preoccupied with the seller’s need to convert his product into cash; marketing with the idea of satisfying the needs of the customer by means of the product and the whole cluster of things associated with creating, delivering and finally consuming it. The marketing concept rests on four pillars: target market, customer needs, integrated marketing, and profitability. The selling concept takes an inside-out perspective. It starts with the factory, focuses on existing products, and calls for heavy selling and promoting to produce profitable sales. The marketing concept takes an outsidein perspective. It starts with a well-defined market, focuses on customer needs, coordinates activities that affect customers, and produces profits by satisfying customers. The Societal Marketing Concept The societal marketing concept calls upon marketers to build social and ethical considerations into their marketing practices. They must balance and juggle the often conflicting criteria of company profits, consumer want satisfaction, and public interest. Yet a number of companies have achieved notable sales and profit gains by adopting and practicing the societal marketing concept.
Marketing Management - 1 MBA
The process of marketing management is about attracting and retaining customers by offering them desirable products that satisfy needs and meet wants. Marketing management in a customer-orientated business consists of five key tasks summarized in the table below: Marketing Task Identify target markets Commentary Management has to identify those customers with whom they want to trade. The choice of target markets will be influenced by the wealth consumers hold and the business' ability to serve them Management have to collect information on the current and potential needs of customers in the markets they have chosen to supply. Areas to research include how customers buy (which marketing channels are used) and what competitors are offering Businesses must develop products and services that meet needs and wants sufficiently to attract target customers to wish and buy Having identified the target markets and developed relevant products, management must then determine the price, promotion and distribution for the product. The marketing mix is tailored to offer value to customers, to communicate the offer and to make it accessible and convenient
Product development Marketing mix
Market monitoring The objective in marketing is to first attract customers and then (most importantly) retain them by building a relationship. In order to do this effectively, they need feedback on customer satisfaction. They also need to feed this back into product design and marketing mix as customer needs and the competitive environment changes
Marketing Management - 1 MBA
Marketing Management - 1 MBA