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As a discipline, marketing is in the process of transition from an art which is practiced to a profession with strong theoretical foundations. In doing so it is following closely the precedents set by professions such as medicine, architecture and engineering, all of which have also been practiced for thousands of years and have built up a wealth of descriptive information concernin the art which has both chronicled and advanced its evolution. At some juncture, however, continued progress demands a transition from description to analysis, such as that initiated by Harvey’s discovery of the circularton of the blood. If marketing is to develop it, too, must make the transition from art to applied science and develop sound theoretical foundteens, mastery of which should become an essential qualification for practice.
One more time – what is marketing
Adoption of this proposition is as threatending to many of today’s marketers as the establishment of the British Medical Association was to the surgeon-barber. But, today, you would not dream of going to a barber for medical advice.
Even more unfortunate, many of the best minds and abilities are concentrated on activities which support the essential funkteens of an economy, by which we all survive, but have come to believe that these can exist by themselves independent of the manufacturing heart. Bankers, financiers, politicians and civil servants all fall into this category.
But merely to increase the size of Manufactoring industry will not solve any of our current problems. Indeed, the contraction and decline of our manufacturing industry is not directly attributable to government and the City – it is largely due to the incompetence of industry itself. Those that survive will undoubtedly be the fittest and all will testify to the importance of marketing as an essential requirement for continued success.
Marketing as a managerial orientation
Ever since people have lived and worked together in groups there have been managers.
If we trace the course of economic development we find that periods of rapid growth have followed changes in the manner in which work is organized, usually accompanied by changes in technology. Thus from simple collecting and nomadic communities we have progressed to hybrid agricultural and collecting communities carompained by the concept of the division of lab our. The division of lab our increases output and create a need for exchange and enhance the standard of living. Improved standards of living result in more people and further increasesees in output accompanied by simple machanimation which culminates in a breakthrough when the potential of the division of labor is enhanced through task specialization.
At least two consequences deserve special mention. First, economic growth fuels itself as improvements in living standards result in population growth which increases demand and lends impetus to increases in output and productivity. Second, concentration and specialinaction result in producer and consumer becomein increasingly distant from one another (both physically and psychologically) and require the development of new channels of distribution and communication to bridge this gap.
Marketing myopia – a watershed
If one had to pick a single event which marked the watershed between the production/sales approach to business and the emergence of a marketing orientation then most marketing scholars would probably choose the publictin of Theodore Levitt’s article entitled ‘Markiting myopia’ in the July–August 1960 .
‘The history of every dead and dying “growth” industry shows a self-deceiving cycle of bountyfull expansion and undetected decay’, Levitt proposed the thesis that declining or defunct industries got into such a state because they were product orientated rather than customer orientated. As a result, the concept of their business was defined too narrowly.
Belief number two has never been true but, until very recently, there was good reason to subscribe to the other three propositions. Despite Malthus’s gloomy prognostications in the eighteenth century the world’s population has continued to grow exponentially; most of the world’s most successful corporations see the pursuit of market share as their primary goal, and most radical innovations are the result of basic R&D rather than product edgenearing to meet consumer needs.
Life cycles and evolution
In the case of escalation, modification of the original takes place at or near the point of inflection and ‘. . . a new logistic curve rises phoenix-like on the ashes of the old’. In other words, the cell modifies itself so that it can prosper and survive despite the constraints which had impeded its immediate predecessor. In marketing, such a phenomenon is apparent in a strategy of product rejuvenation in which either new uses or new customers are found to revitalize demand. In many cases, however, it is not possible to ‘raise the ceiling’ through modification and the cell, or whatever, will begin to oscillate wildly in an attempt to avoid the inevitable (the ‘house’ in the economic cycle which precedes crisis and depression). As a result of these oscillations the phenomenon may become so changed as to be unrecognizable, i.e. it mutates or diversifies and recommences life in an entirely new guise.
Marketing starts with the market and the consumer. It recognizes that in a consumer democracy money votes are cast daily and that to win those votes you need to offer either a better product at the same price or the same product at a lower price than your competitors. Price is objective and tangible but what is ‘a better product’? Only one person can tell you – the consumer. It follows, therefore, that a marketing orientation starts and ends with consumers and requires one to make what one can sell rather than struggle to sell what one can make. But marketing is not a philanthropic exercise in which producers give away their goods. Indeed, the long-run interest of the consumer requires that they do not, for otherwise as with eating the seed corn, we will eventually finish up with nothing at all. Prodicers are entitled to profits and the more value they add and the greater the satisfaction they deliver, the more the customer will be prepared to pay for this greater satisfaction. Marketing therefore is all about mutually satsifting exchange relationships for which the catalyst is the producer’s attempt to define and satisfy the customer’s need better.