Marketing is 'the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably' (Chartered Institute of Marketing).
The overall objective of marketing is to ensure that the company obtains the revenues it needs to achieve its profit targets.
As defined by Kotler,marketing management is: 'The analysis, planning, implementation, and control of programs designed to create, build, and maintain beneficial exchanges and relationships with target markets for the purpose of achieving organisational objectives.' According to Theodore Levitt: 'The purpose of a business is to get and keep a customer.' Marketing aims to decide what companies should do to achieve that purpose and then to ensure that it is done.
Key Marketing Concept
'The marketing concept holds that the key to achieving organisational goals consists in determining the needs and wants of target markets and delivering the desired satisfactions more effectively and efficiently than competitors' (Kotler). The target market is defined as the set of actual and potential buyers of a product.
Kotler distinguishes the marketing concept from the following:
The product concept, which holds that consumers will favour those products that are available and highly affordable, and therefore management should concentrate on improving production and distribution efficiency.
The product concept, which holds that consumers will favour those products that offer the most quality, performance and features, and therefore the organization should devote its energy to making continuous product improvements.
The selling concept, which holds that consumers will not buy enough of the organization's products unless the organization undertakes a substantial selling and promotional effort.
The limitations of these concepts are obvious. While not dismissing the importance of production quality and product innovation, the danger of being production orientated is that products are handed over to the sales force to sell without any consideration being given to these fundamental truths:
'Consumption is the sole end purpose of all production; and the interest of the producer ought to be attended to only in so far as it may be necessary for promoting that of the consumer' (Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, 1776). 'The customer is the only arbiter of quality – and an improvement the customer cannot understand or doesn't want is no kind of improvement at all' (Willsmer). However desirable the merits of the product, they are never desirable at any price (Heller). The danger of being sales orientated is the pursuit of volume rather than profit. And, as Levitt wrote: '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 Mix
The main elements that a company can manage to its advantage for marketing purposes comprise the 'marketing mix'. The four Ps in the marketing mix are:
Product – what is sold.
Place – the medium through which goods or services reach customers.
Price – what goods or services are sold for.
Promotion – how goods and services are promoted to customers through communication and by other means.
The other key marketing elements associated with the concept of marketing mix are:
Target marketing – the process of aiming marketing efforts to meet more precisely the needs and wants of customers.
Segmentation – the breakdown of customers into segments that will respond to more precisely targeted marketing mixes.
Positioning – distinguishing a brand from its competitors so that it becomes the preferred brand in defined market segments.