What is marketing?

A detailed explanation of what marketing is, it's practical uses and it's history.

Marketing is a managerial aspect that deals with the application of ideas and procedures employed to analyse and predict consumer requirements and preferences, to gauge the feasibility of promotional strategies and modify these to comply with the requirements of maximum consumer satisfaction. Resultantly, marketing contributes towards increasing sales, revenues and profits, through providing insights into consumer behaviour.

Related: Marketing mix defined

Marketing as an analytical tool

Marketing methodologies and procedures provide the businesses with an assessment scale to obtain qualitative and quantitative data concerning consumer behaviour and demographics and make it the basis of their promotional strategies. Eventually, the term marketing may be broadly explained as the directive force behind a company’s buying and selling decisions and endeavours.

Marketing is more than promotion

In various circles, marketing is wrongly considered as a substitute term used to explain promotion and advertising. Though promotion and advertising are two of the most dominant aspects of marketing, the complete definition of marketing includes several other aspects and factors. Marketing includes the thorough study and implementation of innovative ideas to help businesses in the creation of brand identity and communication.

In fact, in essence, marketing is based on the principles of effective communication, which includes the effective conveyance of brand values to consumers to convince them to avail a service or a product. It includes a comprehensive study and analysis of consumer, as well as, product and service metrics that form the foundation of market research, laying down the basis for the creation of an effective marketing strategy. The derived conclusions, as a result of the systematic analysis of collected data, are used to anticipate consumer behaviour and provide an insight into consumer psychology.

Thorough understanding of consumer behaviour and consumer psychology increases the chances of accurately predicting the worth and value of a product or service for the target consumers, which leads to the establishment and maintenance of long-term consumer relationships.

4 Ps of marketing

Primarily, marketing may be classified into two broad categories, namely the identification of consumer needs and implementation of strategies for meeting consumer needs and preferences. Where the first category generally deals with the study of consumer behaviour and devising of an effective marketing strategy, the second category outlines the processes of product placement, packaging, pricing and promotion. These four Ps of marketing are the success factors behind every marketing strategy.

Accurate placement and product distribution, attractive package design, allocation of a competent yet reasonable cost and effective and compelling advertising are the major factors that contribute towards the creation and implementation of a successful marketing strategy.

Marketing has undergone gradual, but considerable change since its birth. It is one of the fields that enjoy the advantage of categorically documented history, and marketing history can be broadly classified into seven distinct phases or eras.

The advent of modern media and technology is one of the major factors that have influenced the growth of marketing overtime, and businesses have realised the importance of familiarising with evolving marketing definitions and mechanisms to attain a competitive edge over others.

Trade era

Trade era marks the birth of marketing, which extended to the mid-19th century, since the beginning. Marketing principles were not separately identified, and significant sales and trade operations focused on local barter economies. There was no concept of distinct marketing endeavours, and marketing was limited to willful exploration.

Production orientation era

With the emergence and spread of industrial revolution, mass production became the dominant sales dynamic and principles of supply and demand found a new meaning. Mass production and abundant supply of goods formed the basis for meeting consumer needs.

Sales orientation era

It was during this era that the foundation for modern marketing was laid. Since the dearth of products, created due to a lack of mass production, was adequately covered after the emergence of the industrial revolution, mass production paved the way for increased competition in the marketplace. Consequently, the focus shifted from production and manufacture to sales. It was evident that in the coming times marketing and branding were to play a major role in driving sales and increasing revenue collection.

Marketing orientation era

The 1960s saw the beginning of marketing orientation era, as the competition grew and markets became more saturated. This marked the phase of strategic marketing and planning and the analysis of consumer preferences, and behaviour took the centre stage. Product placement, distribution and reasonable pricing became the main focus, as businesses strove to increase their sales through these strategic manoeuvres.

This era also marks the birth of branding and exclusivity.

Relationship marketing era

With the realisation of the importance of marketing and branding, establishment and maintenance of long-term consumer relationship became the key focus during this era. Emotions took precedence over objectivity, as these were considered as more compelling dynamics to convince consumers and ensure consumer loyalty.

Digital/ social marketing era

This is the modern phase of marketing evolution, where the internet and social media are considered as the dominant forces that drive and influence marketing operations and strategies. Now, the key emphasis is on effective communication, networking, direct involvement of the customer to facilitate product development and enhancing consumer loyalty.

Long-term and stable consumer relationships form one of the major factors that contribute towards the growth and progress of a business. Maintaining strong consumer relationships is the key to a business’ survival, and effective marketing is the only way to ensure long-lasting consumer loyalty.

Marketing provides a medium for effective communication and interaction with the consumers to adequately convey a brand’s values and convince them to avail a certain product or service. Hence, marketing is the essential driving forces behind sales and revenue generation.

Marketing gives direction

Marketing provides the businesses with a planned and focused approach regarding the implementation of their future decisions so that they have a clear understanding and idea of how they are to progress, marking their milestones and objectives.

Marketing provides competitive edge

Saturated markets have increased competition among businesses and to survive the cut-throat competition, it is essential that businesses employ tactics to stand out from others. Exclusivity and a distinctive identity, along with the implementation of all the necessary measures to beat your competition is the only way to emerge out as a market leader.

Marketing provides the businesses with perspective and a way to implement effective placement, packaging, pricing and promotional strategies to ensure their long-term success.

Marketing provides insight into market trends and environment

Marketing undertakings and endeavours necessitate the analysis of all the influential factors that may affect your business operations and success in the marketplace. This includes a study of the consumer behaviour, current and future market trends, an analysis of the activities and progress of your competitors and various other political, legal, economic and social aspects.

Ultimately, the derived conclusions do not only help you with the creation of an effective marketing plan, but these may also be relied upon to predict future trends and enhance various other aspects of a business, ensuring its long-term success and survival in the marketplace.

Marketing builds brand

Increased competition and saturated markets highlight the need for the creation of a unique brand identity so that a business can stand out among others. Marketing is the major directive force that contributes towards brand creation and brand building.

Marketing enables businesses to make correct branding decisions and lay down the foundation for brand values, which eventually serve as a set of major decisive factors behind all branding decisions. Consequently, it may be concluded that marketing provides the business with a foundation of an effective branding plan.

With the emergence of digital or social marketing era, marketing concepts and practices have undergone a considerable change. The internet is the new TV, and mobile devices are considered as new age computers. Technology now follows a steep curve of evolution, laying down the foundation for the path and pace for progress of marketing.

Where content marketing has emerged out as a leader in the marketing field, internet and social media are the most dominant platforms used for marketing endeavours.

Global approach

Distances are shrinking, and markets are moving towards globalisation. Resultantly, businesses need to give due consideration to increasing globalisation and hence, realise the growing need to modify their operations and communicative networks in accordance with the modern marketing demands.

There is a need to bring into place a broader marketing vision and increased organisation of the operational machinery to survive and progress in the rapidly changing scenario.

Shifting the focus to older consumers

Conventionally, young adults, corresponding to an age bracket of 25-34 years, formed the primary focus of marketing endeavours for various businesses. Due to their higher percentage, these were considered a consumer segment that was to generate higher revenues.

However, there has been a shift in marketing trends, with older consumers now being considered as a more influential consumer segment. A study of consumer demographics has revealed older consumers as being more capable of spending, and hence, businesses need to modify their marketing preferences and strategies accordingly.

Emphasis on abstraction

Modern marketing trends lay greater emphasis on developing an emotional connect with the consumers, focusing on the explaining the relevance of the products or services to the consumers, rather than focusing on conveying the product or service utility and benefits. Businesses need to realise that marketing success, in present times, is achieved through convincing the consumers that availing a product or a service they will be able to accomplish their dreams and aspirations.

Online advertising

Though television hasn’t completely lost its importance as a major advertising platform, it is no more a leading advertising medium. The Internet has a much wider access, and it is the most widely used advertising medium today. The increasing fragmentation of television coupled with the increasing influence of the internet and social media has led to the emergence of online marketing as a more potent promotional dynamic.

Since it is established that marketing serves as a major factor that contributes towards decision making, defines a business’ vision and determines a company’s success, marketing management has become a multi-disciplinary aspect, which has become more complicated over time. Resultantly, effective marketing planning, strategizing and applications are faced with various challenges.

Effective communication

Communication plays a major role in determining the success of a marketing strategy and application. However, the definition of communication has changed considerably, in the context of marketing. It is no more limited to the effective conveyance of the utility of a product, but it now also includes the employment of techniques to motivate a consumer towards an implied action.

Consequently, marketing communication today focuses on the establishment of an emotional bond with the consumer, to effectively convey a brand’s values, making them more relevant to the target consumers.

Selecting a medium for communication

Effective communication has become the key focus of marketing, and in the wake of drastic technological advances, numerous communicative channels have emerged. Consequently, with the increasing need to adopt a more focused approach for all marketing undertakings, businesses need to consider and analyse all the available options for selecting an effective communicative medium to reach out to their target consumers. Television, print media, social media, internet and mobiles, all serve as effective communicative mediums and can be employed to work as feasible marketing tools.

Businesses need to consider their objectives, various consumer metrics and market trends before they select a suitable medium which offers wide and efficient consumer access.

Constant need for data collection and research

Effective marketing thrives on latest data, stats and research conclusions. Consumer preferences and behaviour undergo constant change, and so do market trends. Not only are businesses required to keep track of these evolving marketing dynamics, but they also need to give due consideration to monitoring the activities of their competitors.

All of this leads to the collection of data analytics that serves as directive factors for shaping future decisions and marketing, operative and other management strategies. If a business fails to keep track of evolving marketing dynamics, its survival and progress can be significantly hampered.