Definition and nature of marketing
This article ‘definition and nature of marketing’ aims to explore some of the definitions of marketing. It also aims to explore the nature of marketing. Certainly, there has been a lot of research in the field of marketing and a good number of marketing 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 (2019), marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.
According to the American Marketing Association (2013), 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
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 (2019) as stated above.
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 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 the first movers in the market and reap the benefits accordingly. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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Last update: 09 September 2019
American Marketing Association (2013) Definitions of Marketing, available at: https://www.ama.org/the-definition-of-marketing/ (accessed 01 September 2019)
CIM (2019) What is marketing? Available at: https://www.cim.co.uk/qualifications/get-into-marketing/ (accessed 01 September 2019)
Kotler et al. (2009) Marketing Management. 1st European edition, Pearson Education Limited.
Lancaster, G. and Reynolds, P. (2004) Marketing, 1st edition, Palgrave Macmillan.
Wood, R. (2013) The key concepts in Hospitality Management, 1st edition, London: SAGE Publications Ltd
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Author: M Rahman
M Rahman writes extensively online with an emphasis on business management, marketing, and tourism. He is a lecturer in Management and Marketing. He is a graduate of Leeds Metropolitan University and London South Bank University.