Essay: Marketing Concept RIP

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Marketing Concept

According to Karl Moore, in "The 'Marketing Concept' -- RIP," the marketing approach that has ruled since the 1960s, "the customer knows best," should be buried and the old concept of the "advertiser knows best" should be resurrected. Is this realistic? Can consumers, who have been coddled and pampered for decades now revert to earlier times when the product, not the buyer is most important? It appears more realistic that a new approach is needed built on relationship of both consumers and the product sellers.

Moore writes about the decreasing relevance of the marketing concept idea, defined by Peter Drucker:

Marketing is not only much broader than selling, it is not a specialized activity at all it encompasses the entire business. It is the whole business seen from the point-of-view of the final result, that is, from the customer's point-of-view. Concern and responsibility for marketing must therefore permeate all areas of the enterprise. (Drucker, 1954).

Moore continues that over the years, those companies that relied on the marketing concept sent out market researchers to survey product users on changes they would like to see in the next version. Using the walk man as an example, he argues that this approach is not feasible any longer, especially with high-tech. The average consumer cannot conceive of what they want, because they do not know until they see it. Yet, this is not only a problem with these higher technology products, but for most organizations. The market concept is outdated like the boomers that conceived of it and needs to retire.

Looking back, there was a reason why the marketing concept was put into place: The success of an organization relied on marketing due to increased competition and globalization. With the marketing concept, the organization no longer stood alone, but established a relationship with the customer. The concept followed the American Marketing Associations' definition of marketing: "Marketing is the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing promotion and distribution of ideas, goods and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organizational goals" (Ferrel & Lucas, 1987, p.17). The word "satisfy" was most important. The need was to determine the consumers' needs and then determine how best to meet them for mutual benefit. This was based on Keith's (1960) thoughts about a marketing revolution where the consumer, not the product and its bottom line, was the center. Marketing began and ended with consumers. Companies failed because of their product-orientation. Growth would come by an expansion of more affluent buyers. The organization had to consider itself a customer-satisfying entity.

Later the idea of "social marketing," or the creation, implementation, and management of programs that are purposely to influence the acceptability of social ideas and involving product considerations, was added. Marketing went beyond the exchange of product and payment. It also included the exchange of relationships between the buyers and sellers. They also spoke of distinguishing a target market directed to employees, the general public, government, buyers, and suppliers. In response, the buyers also became marketers as they exchanged ideas with the organizations.

Despite the emphasis on the marketing concept, even some of the major industries did not pay heed. Just recently, it is obvious that the automobile industry determined the vehicle that the consumers wanted, the SUV, and then pushed this vehicle and made it part of the American middle-class way. That worked until the "bigger is not always better" and "green is better" mindset started coming into play with the financial crisis.

Moore is not the first by any means who criticizes the marketing concept. There are those who say it reduces product innovation and puts a damper on the creative abilities of the company's employees and customers do not always know what they want or be practical on what to expect. Yet, doesn't this degrade the average consumer? It makes the public no different than a worker ant that follows the direction of the queen. Houston (1986) stated that one should not look at the marketing concept as "inadequate," but instead "incomplete." The marketing concept puts the consumer in the center of the equation, but the marketer is not supposed to completely put aside the creativity and innovation that it can offer to fulfill the buyer's needs. The perception of a customer about a company and its products is based on its technical and manufacturing abilities.

Aren't individuals such as Moore blind to both sides of this relationship: that the consumer can provide insights and new ways of looking at things and thus spur creativity and innovation. Because the environment is changing so quickly, organizations need to have this continual input to keep them thinking about new directions. Otherwise, they can become stagnant and too narrow in their product designs. It is not that the marketing concept does not work, it is that organizations have not seen the far-reaching capacity of the marketing concept. They have not implemented this philosophy in its entirety and gained all of the benefits that can be derived by a partnership of consumer and producer. Now, more than ever, due to the economic problems and the competitive demands from the "flat" world, organizations need to open themselves up to as many ideas as possible.

It is interesting to note, for example, that toy manufacturers are recognizing that this year's Christmas shoppers will not pay the $100, $200 and more for their children's gifts. So, these companies are going back to the drawing board and using their creativity and innovation to take the higher priced items and finding ways to make them less costly but still entertaining, safe and cost effective. That truly does take ingenuity.

Individuals such as Moore also have to look at the online world as well as the brick-and-mortar traditional consumer-producer relationships. The online consumers are a very spoiled and demanding and larger buying entity. Not only do they quickly go from Web site to Web site if they do not see exactly what they want, but they are looking for sites that fill their specific personal and knowledge-based needs, as well as their product-buying needs. In fact, it is becoming more common that consumers first go to a Web site or blog or social network because of the topic or information and then, when they become a part of that community, buy the product. Niches are becoming the norm online. Increasing numbers of companies are learning how to sell on Face Book or My Space rather than through conventional means of pushing product on a Web site. They recognize the power of social networking and the true sense of the concept of marketing. These marketers need to recognize that "targeting" is becoming a very specialized and complex tool. The once broad public is breaking down into smaller and smaller groups of product buyers who are looking for very specific features on products and highly specialized products.

These same consumers are not going to want product forced on them offline. Buyers want to "team" with companies that recognize their social responsibility to the consumer and to the welfare of the consumer's community. Houston (1986) stresses that the marketing concept works when there is a thorough recognition of the importance of both exchange partners to establish and satisfy needs. The marketing concept must be widened outside of the strict parameters that have normally dictated it.

Marketing uses and combines different factors into what is called the marketing mix - product development, pricing, distribution and communication. Too frequently, marketing is still seen as only advertising or selling. The goal of marketing, as many of the online businesses are recognizing, is that selling is secondary to knowing the consumers so well that the product fits them to a T. The product sells itself. Marketing comes along when the consumer is already ready to buy.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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