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The Development Of The Marketing Concept

The marketing concept is a fairly recent one, and has been preceded by other business philosophies.

Production orientation - During the nineteenth century it was often thought that people would buy anything, provided it was cheap enough. This belief had some truth in it, since the invention of the steam engine allowed very much cheaper mass-produced items to be made. The prevailing attitude among manufacturers was that getting production right was all that mattered; this is called production orientation. This paradigm usually prevails in market conditions under which demand greatly exceeds supply, and is therefore still found in some Third World and Eastern European countries.

Product orientation - With rising affluence people are not prepared to accept standardized products, and as markets grow manufacturers are able to reap the benefits of mass production despite providing more specialized products: therefore the extra cost of having something that fits one's needs more exactly is not high enough to make much difference. This led to the view that an ideal product could be made, one that all (or most) customers would want. This philosophy is known as product orientation. Product orientation tends to lead to ever more complex products at ever increasing prices; customers are being asked to pay for features which they may not need, or which may even be regarded as drawbacks. The problem with this approach is that it does not allow for differences in tastes and needs between different customers and consumers.

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Sales orientation - As manufacturing capacity increases, supply will tend to outstrip demand. During the 1920s and 1930s in Europe and the USA manufacturers began to take the view that a ‘born salesman’ could sell anything to anybody and therefore enough salesmen could get rid of the surplus products. This is called sales orientation, and relies on the premise that the customer can be fooled, the customer will not mind being fooled and will let you do it again later, and that if there are problems with the product these can be glossed over by a fast-talking sales representative. Sales orientation is therefore concerned with the needs of the seller, not with the needs of the buyer.

Consumer orientation - Modern marketers take the view that the customers are intelligent enough to know what they need, can recognize value for money when they see it, and will not buy again from the firm if they do not get value for money. Putting the customer at the centre of all the organization’s activities is easier said than done. The marketing concept is hard to implement because, unlike the sales orientation approach which seeks to change the mass of customers to fit the organisation's aims, the marketing concept seeks to change the organisation’s aims to fit one or more specific groups of customers who have similar needs. In practice, the marketing concept means finding out the needs and wants of a particular group of customers, finding out what price they would be willing to pay, and fitting the organisation's activities towards meeting those needs and wants at the right price.

Societal marketing - Societal marketing holds that marketers should take some responsibility for the needs of society at large, and for the sustainability of their production activities. This orientation moves the focus away from the immediate exchanges between an organisation and its customers, and even away from the relationship between the organisation and its consumers, and towards the long-term effects on society at large. A product which has long-term benefits but which is not immediately satisfying, for example a household smoke alarm, is a salutary product. Products which are bad for consumers in the long run, but which are immediately satisfying (such as alcohol, cigarettes and confectionery) are called pleasing products. Finally, products which are neither good for consumers nor satisfying are called deficient products: examples might include ineffective slimming products, or exercise equipment which is poorly designed and causes injury. In theory, firms should aim to produce desirable products – but consumers often choose the pleasing products instead.

Relationship marketing - during the 1990s, marketing thinking moved towards the relationship marketing concept. Traditional marketing has tended to concentrate on the single transaction with a short-term focus. Relationship marketing focuses on the ’lifetime’ value of the customer. Relationship marketing aims to determine who will be (or could be) the most loyal customer throughout his or her life: marketers are responsible for establishing and maintaining these relationships. In practice, relationship marketing has met with its greatest success in the business- to-business world. Companies which sell to other companies have generally been most proactive in establishing long-term co-operative relationships The key elements in relationship marketing are the creation of customer loyalty, the establishment of a mutually rewarding connection, and a willingness to adapt behaviour in order to maintain the relationship.

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