Definition and nature of marketing
This article ‘definition and nature of marketing’ aims to explore the key issues concerning the concept of marketing. Certainly, there has been a lot of research and a good number of intellectuals and relevant organisations have attempted to define marketing. It is almost unanimously agreed that at its core, marketing is about understanding customers.
Definition of marketing
According to the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) UK (2023), marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.
According to the American Marketing Association (2023), marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.
Philip Kotler, one of the greatest scholars of marketing, has defined marketing as the set of human activities directed at facilitating and consummating exchanges (Kotler et al, 2009).
There is no doubt that organisations need customers to survive and prosper. Therefore, they need to understand what customers’ needs and wants are so that they can be addressed appropriately. This idea that understanding and satisfying the needs of customers has significant importance for businesses is widely known as marketing.
Nature of marketing
Marketing as a broader concept
Some people often assume that marketing is about advertising and selling. Well, it is not the whole story. Both selling and advertising are two important functions within marketing. But marketing is a much broader concept, an important management discipline that aims to ensure that organisations understand the desires of customers and exceed them with appropriate products and services.
To understand the nature of marketing, let us investigate the definition of marketing by the Chartered Institute of Marketing, UK (2023) as stated above.
Marketing as a management process
So, firstly, according to CIM, marketing is a management process. According to motivational theorist Henri Fayol, management consists of five functions i.e. planning, organising, staffing, directing, & controlling. Marketing as a management process indeed employs all these functions to ensure that the aims and objectives of organisations are achieved efficiently.
Marketing as a business function
Marketing is an important function in an organisation regardless of its size. However, organisations have different functions and departments e.g. operations, finance, human resource management, and IT. Marketing is a business-wide function – it is not something that operates alone and has no connections other business functions. Therefore, its interrelationship with other business functions is necessary for the success of an organisation.
Marketing as a consumer-oriented activity
According to most of the modern definitions, marketing is a consumer-oriented activity. Consumers are the central focus of marketing. It is the central idea of marketing that organisations exist and prosper through meeting the needs and wants of customers. Marketing is also a goal-oriented activity as it aims to achieve the customers’ buying goals and organisations’ profitability goals.
Building a brand image
Marketing is also about building a strong brand. This involves creating a unique identity for a business that sets it apart from competitors. A strong brand can create a loyal customer base, enhance credibility, and increase the value of the business.
Marketing goes through a process to understand customers’ requirements and deliver on its promises. This process is called marketing process which consists of four activities i.e. situation analysis, marketing strategy, marketing mix decisions, and implementation and control.
However, these four activities include many other activities within them e.g. the marketing mix decisions include a company’s decision on its products, prices, places (distribution channels), promotions, people, processes, and physical evidence. It is worth noting that marketing practices keep on changing from time to time to improve its effectiveness.
Role of marketing
Marketing is responsible for identifying and anticipating customer requirements. It is about understanding short-time (identifying) and long-term (anticipating) needs and desires of customers. That understanding can be achieved by analysing market trends and carrying out marketing research.
Anticipating customer requirements help companies become one of the first movers in the market and reap the benefits. For example, Sony dominated the portable music player market for many years after it had introduced Walkman in 1979.
Marketing is also responsible for satisfying customer requirements profitably. Organisations need to survive to cater for the needs and wants of customers. To do so, profit-making organisations need to make profits; hence the inclusion of profitability in the CIM definition of marketing.
However, how about non-profit organisations? Some scholars argue that as long as these organisations are achieving their goals and objectives, they would be considered serving customers profitably. It is worth noting that organisations must produce those products and services that satisfy customers’ needs and wants and they are perceived as good value for customers’ money.
Importance of marketing to businesses
Marketing is vital to the success of any business. It helps businesses attract and retain customers, increase sales, and build a strong brand. Without marketing, businesses would struggle to reach their target market and convince them to buy their products or services.
Marketing also helps businesses differentiate themselves from competitors. In today’s competitive business environment, standing out is more important than ever. By effectively communicating a unique selling proposition, organisations can position themselves as the best choice in the market.
Witty marketing activities and campaigns have led to many contemporary business success stories – from pharmaceuticals to retailers, sports brands to hotels, and business-to-business (B2B) companies to (B2C) small, niche players (CIM, 2023). This attests to the fact that marketing is extremely important for all types of business regardless of the size.
According to Statista (2023) Procter & Gamble was the largest advertiser worldwide in 2021, having spent 8.1 billion US Dollars in promotional activities. Amazon was the second on that list with an ad spend of 4.8 billion US Dollars, while Unilever secured the 3rd position with a total spending of 4.7 billion US dollars.
Other top brands in terms of advertising spend are L’ Oreal, Disney, Apple, Nestle, Mitsubishi, Google, Volkswagen, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Reckitt, General Motors, Samsung, GSK, PepsiCo, Stellantis, T-Mobile, Ford, Johnson & Johnson, Toyota, and Ferrero.
Measuring the effectiveness of marketing efforts
The effectiveness of marketing campaigns can be measured in different ways. For instance, tracking sales, customer satisfaction, and brand awareness are some of the metrics. By measuring the marketing efforts, organisations can determine what is working and what isn’t, and adjust their strategy accordingly.
Conclusion: Definition and nature of marketing
Finally, mastering the art of marketing is a continuous journey. It involves continuous learning, testing, and adapting to the changing market landscape. However, with a deep understanding of the audience, a strong brand, a well-defined strategy, and a commitment to creativity and innovation, marketing executives can master this art and drive success for their business.
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Last update: 26 August 2023
American Marketing Association (2023) Definitions of Marketing, available at: https://www.ama.org/the-definition-of-marketing/ (accessed 22 August 2023)
CIM (2023) What is marketing? Available at: https://www.cim.co.uk/qualifications/get-into-marketing/ (accessed 23 August 2023)
Kotler et al. (2009) Marketing Management. 1st European edition, Pearson Education Limited.
Statista (2023) Leading advertisers worldwide by ad spending, available at: https://www.statista.com/statistics/286448/largest-global-advertisers/ (accessed 23 August 2023)
Author: M Rahman
M Rahman writes extensively online and offline with an emphasis on business management, marketing, and tourism. He is a lecturer in Management and Marketing. He holds an MSc in Tourism & Hospitality from the University of Sunderland. Also, graduated from Leeds Metropolitan University with a BA in Business & Management Studies and completed a DTLLS (Diploma in Teaching in the Life-Long Learning Sector) from London South Bank University.