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Is mass marketing dead or alive?

Broad-brush, unfocussed attempt to appeal to an entire market with one basic marketing strategy utilizing mass distribution and mass media. Also called undifferentiated marketing. Mass marketing presents sales promotion materials to an unspecific general public, and was used in the mass production and large quantity sale marketing environment in the past.

Mass marketing is the maximum exposure of product advertising to consumers. Its the opposite of niche marketing where the idea is to advertise and market products to specific target markets. A target market is a segment of consumers identified through research to be the most likely to buy a particular product. In mass marketing, products that many people want or need such as soda, toothpaste, bread and household cleaners are advertised to a large audience Mass communication is crucial in successfully reaching large consumer audiences. The origin of mass marketing is the latter part of the 20th century when new technologies such as television and radio became immensely popular in society. For the first time, advertisers were able to reach wide audiences of people with each advertising message. Products that most people needed or wanted could be advertised to that large general market through the medium of broadcasting. Advertising is always done through specific communication channels to reach consumers; broadcast technology is the channel used by mass marketing. For example, products advertised during national television programs reach consumers in entire countries. As long as these products are available countrywide, advertising to such a huge demographic is considered successful marketing strategy. Consumers seeing products advertised on television commercials are more likely to choose them over similar store products that werent promoted. Showing television viewers the actual product and communicating benefits such as getting sparkling white teeth by using Brand X toothpaste has been shown to increase sales of advertised products. As the commercials are repeated, the repetition through broadcasting helps to create brand recognition. Mass marketing engenders a number of disadvantages. Costs for advertising slots are exceptionally high, excluding many small companies, and large companies have to put aside excessive amounts of money for their marketing budget. The cost of distributing promotional literature can also be high, as it has to encompass a large geographical area. These large costs would be all well and good if mass marketing were effective and generated a high response rate. However the average response rate to a mass marketing promotion is only 0.1%.

This is because if a consumer wants a slightly different product, a mass produced product will not meet their needs. By 1960, the industrial era began to draw to an end and the information era began. This is an era where consumers were becoming more sophisticated and demanding8, and increasingly wearier of the media. Mass marketing is dead. But very few people realize it. The way to reach people now is through widespread pinpoint marketing. The old paradigm has been that you design your initial message to attract as many people as possible, and then some of those people will filter through and become customers. Then you try to get that message to as many people as you can afford to. But people are now getting so many of these generic messages that they no longer respond to them. But now, with instantaneous communication technology available to anyone, there is a better way. Let your initial message do its own filtering. Design your message so that it appeals only to a narrowly defined market, but make it so unique that it is almost impossible for the right person to ignore. Then send it out wide and often. Most people will completely ignore it, but the people it is intended for will lock on to it. The third argument is that mass marketing is indeed dead. Stanley Marcus summed this point up by saying, mass marketing was a myth3 because consumers are individuals as unique as snowflakes 3. People with these beliefs believe that other forms of marketing are more profitable, efficient and economically viable. These other forms are market segmentation, target marketing, niche marketing and micro marketing. Market segmentation by definition is the process of splitting customers into different groups, or segments, within which customers with similar characteristics have similar needs. However, even McDonalds has turned against mass marketing, devoting only 1/3 of its marketing budget to television, as opposed to 2/3 5 years ago6. McDonalds chief marketing officer, M. Lawrence Light, seems adamant to shake their mass marketing image by stating boldly we are a big marketer, we are not a mass marketer7. This statement proves that even companies that were once so dedicated to mass marketing are realizing the gains in profit that can be experienced through alternative marketing options.