Introduction to Marketing

In this lesson, we will introduce you to the business function of marketing. After you work out this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Define marketing and the utility (value) it creates for the customer
  • Trace the origin of marketing and explain how it has evolved
  • Describe the elements of a marketing strategy
  • Understand the scope of marketing

In this lesson, we will discuss the following:

  • What is marketing?
  • Evolution of marketing
  • Marketing framework
  • Extending the traditional boundaries of marketing
  • Functions of marketing

Production and marketing of goods and services are the essence of economic life in any society. All organizations perform these two basic functions to satisfy their commitments to their stakeholders - the owners, the customers and the society, at large. They create a benefit that economists call utility which is the want-satisfying power of a good or service.

There are four basic kinds of utility - form, time, place and ownership utility. Form utility is created when the firm converts raw materials and component inputs into finished goods and services. Although marketing provides important inputs that specify consumer preference, the organization’s production function is responsible for the actual creation of form utility. Marketing function creates time, place and ownership utilities.

Time and place utility occur when consumers find goods and services available when and where they want to purchase them. Online retailers with 24*7 format emphasize time utility. Vending machines focus on providing place utility for people buying snacks and soft drinks. The transfer of title to goods or services at the time of purchase creates ownership utility.

Type Description Examples Responsible function
Form Conversion of raw materials and components into finished goods and services Pizza made from several ingredients Production
Time Availability of goods and services when consumers want them Dial-a-pizza; delivery guaranteed in 30 min. Marketing
Place Availability of goods and services where consumers want them Delivery at your doorstep Marketing
Ownership(possession) Ability to transfer title to goods or services from marketer to buyer Pizza sales (in exchange for rupees or credit card payment) Marketing

To survive, all organizations must create utility. Designing and marketing want- satisfying goods, services and ideas is the foundation for the creation of utility. Management guru, Peter F.Drucker emphasized the importance of marketing in his classic book, The Practice of Management as:

If we want to know what a business is, we have start with its purpose.

And its purpose must lie outside the business itself. In fact, it must lie in society since a business enterprise is an organ of society. There is one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer.

How does an organization create a customer? Guiltinan and Paul explain it this way:

Essentially, ‘creating’ a customer means identifying needs in the marketplace, finding out which needs the organization can profitably serve and developing an offering to convert potential buyers into customers. Marketing managers are responsible for most of the activities necessary to create the customers the organization wants,

These activities include:

  • Identifying customer needs
  • Designing goods and services that meet those needs
  • Communication information about those goods and services to prospective buyers
  • Making the goods and services available at times and places that meet customers’ needs
  • Pricing goods and services to reflect costs, competition and customers’ ability to buy
  • Providing for the necessary service and follow-up to ensure customer satisfaction after the purchase

Continuous exposure to advertising and personal selling leads many people to link marketing and selling, or to think that marketing activities start once goods and services have been produced. While marketing certainly includes selling and advertising, it encompasses much more.

Marketing also involves analyzing consumer needs, securing information needed to design and produce goods or services that match buyer expectations and creating and maintaining relationships with customers and suppliers. The following table summarizes the key differences between marketing and selling concepts.

Table Selling Vs. Marketing

Point of difference Selling Marketing
Starting point Factory Marketplace
Focus Existing products Customer needs
Means Selling and promoting Integrated marketing
End Profits through volume Profits through satisfaction

The difference between selling and marketing can be best illustrated by this popular customer quote: ‘Don’t tell me how good your product is, but tell me how good it will make me’.

The American Marketing Association, the official organization for academic and professional marketers, defines marketing as:

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 objectives

Another definition goes as ‘ ... process by which individuals and groups obtain what they need and want through creating and exchanging products and value with others’. Simply put: Marketing is the delivery of customer satisfaction at a profit.

The notion of exchange as central to marketing is reinforced by many contemporary definitions such as ‘marketing is the process of creating and resolving exchange relationships’ and ‘marketing is the process in which exchanges occur among persons and social groups’. The essence of marketing is the exchange process, in which two or more parties give something of value to each other to satisfy felt needs. In many exchanges, people trade tangible goods for money. In others, they trade intangible services.

Exchanges in marketing are consummated not just between any two parties, but almost always among two or more parties, of which one or more taken on the role of buyer and one or more, the role of seller. A common set of conditions are present in the marketplace, viz.,

  1. Buyers outnumber sellers
  2. Any individual buyer is weaker than any individual seller economically, but
  3. The total economic power of even a fraction of the buyers is enough to assure the existence of, or to put out of business, most sellers or groups of sellers, and
  4. Consequently, the sellers compete to sway the largest number of buyers they can to their, rather than another seller’s (competitor’s) offerings. Finally and intriguingly,
  5. The sellers in their attempt to meet competition and attract the largest number of buyers, are influenced as well, regularly modifying their behaviours so they will have more success, with more buyers, over time.

The expanded concept of marketing activities permeates all organizational functions. It assumes that the marketing effort will follow the overall corporate strategy and will proceed in accordance with ethical practices and that it will effectively serve the interests of both society and organization. The concept also identifies the marketing variables - product, price, promotion and distribution - that combine to provide customer satisfaction. In addition, it assumes that the organization begins by identifying and analyzing the consumer segments that it will later satisfy through its production and marketing activities.

The concept’s emphasis on creating and maintaining relationships is consistent with the focus in business on long-term, mutually satisfying sales, purchases and other interactions with customers and suppliers. Finally it recognizes that marketing concepts and techniques apply to non-profit organizations as well as to profit-oriented businesses, to product organization and to service organizations, to domestic and global organizations, as well as to organizations targeting consumers and other businesses.


The following list consists of some MARKETING MYTHS. Tick the myths you thought about marketing before reading this section? Add some new myths you might have discovered.

  • Marketing and selling are synonymous
  • The job of marketing is to develop good advertisements
  • Marketing is pushing the product to the customers
  • Marketing is transaction-oriented than relationship-oriented
  • Marketing is a short-term business strategy
  • Marketing is an independent function of a business
  • Marketing is part of selling

Evolution Of Marketing

As noted earlier, exchange is the origin of marketing activity. When people need to exchange goods, they naturally begin a marketing effort. Wroe Alderson, a leading marketing theorist has pointed out, ‘It seems altogether reasonable to describe the development of exchange as a great invention which helped to start primitive man on the road to civilization’. Production is not meaningful until a system of marketing has been established. An adage goes as: Nothing happens until somebody sells something.

Although marketing has always been a part of business, its importance has varied greatly over the years. The following table identifies five eras in the history of marketing: the production era, the product era, the sales era, the marketing era and the relationship marketing era.

Table: The Evolution Of Marketing

Era Prevailing attitude and approach
  • Consumers favor products that are available and highly affordable
  • Improve production and distribution
  • Availability and affordability is what the customer wants
  • Consumers favor products that offer the most quality, performance and innovative features
  • A good product will sell itself
  • Consumers will buy products only if the company promotes/ sells these products
  • Creative advertising and selling will overcome consumers’ resistance and convince them to buy
  • Focuses on needs/ wants of target markets and delivering satisfaction better than competitors
  • The consumer is king! Find a need and fill it
Relationship marketing
  • Focuses on needs/ wants of target markets and delivering superior value
  • Long-term relationships with customers and other partners lead to success

In the production era, the production orientation dominated business philosophy. Indeed business success was often defined solely in terms of production victories. The focus was on production and distribution efficiency. The drive to achieve economies of scale was dominant. The goal was to make the product affordable and available to the buyers. In the product era, the goal was to build a better mouse trap and it was assumed that buyers will flock the seller who does it.

However, a better mousetrap is no guarantee of success and marketing history is full of miserable failures despite better mousetrap designs. Inventing the greatest new product is not enough. That product must also solve a perceived marketplace need.

Otherwise, even the best-engineered. Highest quality product will fail. In the sales era, firms attempted to match their output to the potential number of customers who would want it. Firms assumed that customers will resist purchasing goods and services not deemed essential and that the task of selling and advertising is to convince them to buy. But selling is only one component of marketing.

Next came the marketing era during which the company focus shifted from products and sales to customers’ needs. The marketing concept, a crucial change in management philosophy, can be explained best by the shift from a seller’s market - one with a shortage of goods and services - to a buyer’s market - one with an abundance of goods and services. The advent of a strong buyer’s market created the need for a customer orientation.

Companies had to market goods and services, not just produce them. This realization has been identified as the emergence of the marketing concept. The keyword is customer orientation. All facets of the organization must contribute first to assessing and then to satisfying customer needs and wants. The relationship marketing era is a more recent one.

Organization’s carried the marketing era’s customer orientation one step further by focusing on establishing and maintaining relationships with both customers and suppliers. This effort represented a major shift from the traditional concept of marketing as a simple exchange between buyer and seller. Relationship marketing, by contrast, involves long-term, value-added relationships developed over time with customers and suppliers. The following table summarizes the differences between transaction marketing (i.e. exchanges characterized by limited communications and little or no on going relationship between the parties) and relationship marketing.

Characteristic T ransaction-Based Marketing Relationship Marketing
Time orientation Short term Long term
Organizational goal Make the sale Emphasis on customer retention
Customer service priority Relatively low Key component
Customer contact Low to moderate Frequent
Degree of customer commitment Low High
Basis for seller- customer interactions Conflict manipulation Cooperation; trust
Source of quality Primarily from production Companywidecommitment


Make a statement to describe each of the stages in the evolution of marketing. You may consider the given examples before coming up with your own statements.

1. Production era

a. ‘Cut costs. Profits will take care of themselves’

2. Product era

a. ‘A good product will sell itself’

3. Sales era

a. ‘Selling is laying the bait for the customer’

4. Marketing era

a. ‘The customer is King!’

5. Relationship marketing era

a. ‘Relationship with customers determine our firm’s future’

Marketing Framework

The basic elements of a marketing strategy consist of (1) the target market, and (2) the marketing mix variables of product, price, place and promotion that combine to satisfy the needs of the target market. The outer circle in Figure 1.1.1 lists environmental characteristics that provide the framework within which marketing strategies are planned.

Elements of a marketing strategy and its environmental framework Marketing

Marketing activities focus on the consumer. Therefore, a market-driven organization begins its overall strategy with a detailed description of its target market: the group of people toward whom the firm decides to direct its marketing efforts. After marketers select a target market, they direct their activities towards profitably satisfying that target segment.

Although they must manipulate many variables to reach this goal, marketing decision making can be divided into four areas: product, price, place (distribution) and promotion (marketing communication). These 4 Ps of marketing are referred to as the marketing mix.

The 4 Ps blend to fit the needs and preferences of a specific target market. These are the four variables that a marketer can use and control in different combinations to create value for customers. Figure 1.1.1 illustrates the focus of the marketing mix variables on the central choice of consumer or organizational target markets. In addition, decisions about the 4 Ps are affected by the environmental factors in the outer circle of that figure. Unlike the controllable marketing mix elements, the environmental variables frequently lie outside the control of marketers.

The product strategy involves deciding what goods and services the firm should offer to a group of consumers and also making decisions about customer service, brand name, packaging, labeling, product life cycles and new product development. The pricing strategy deals with the methods of setting profitable and justifiable prices.

Marketers develop place (distribution) strategy to ensure that consumers find their products available in the proper quantities at the right times and places. Place-related decisions involve the distribution functions and marketing intermediaries (channel members). In the promotional strategy, marketers blend together the various elements of promotion to communicate most effectively with their target market. Many firms use an approach called Integrate Marketing Communications (IMC) to coordinate all promotional activities so that the consumer receives a unified, consistent and effective message.

Marketers do not make decisions about target markets and marketing mix variables in a vacuum. They must take into account the dynamic nature of the five marketing environmental dimensions as shown in Figure 1.1.1 - competitive, political- legal, economic, technological and social-cultural dimensions. Marketers compete for the same consumers.

So the developments in the competitive environment will have lot of repercussions. The political-legal environment includes the governing and regulatory bodies who impose guidelines to the marketers. Adherence to the law of the land is an imperative for a marketer to be a good and responsible corporate citizen.

The economic environment dictates the mood in the target market who take decisions such as to buy or save, to buy now or later. The technological environment can spell life or death for a marketer with break-through technologies. Marketers often leap forward or get left behind owing to the changes in the technological environment.

The social-cultural environment offers cues for the marketers to ‘connect’ well with the target market. Failure on part of the marketer to understand the social-cultural environment will have serious consequences. A marketers can not afford to rub a society/culture on the wrong side!

Extending the Traditional Boundaries of Marketing

Until fairly recently, marketing focused primarily on exchanges of goods between individuals (business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing) and businesses (business-to- business (B2B) marketing). Industrial marketing deals with the organizational purchases of goods to support production of other goods or daily operations or for resale. Table highlights the differences between consumer marketing and industrial marketing.

Table Differences between Industrial and Consumer Marketing

Areas of Difference Industrial Markets (B2B) Consumer Markets (B2C)
Market characteristics
  • Geographically concentrated
  • Relatively fewer buyers
  • Geographically dispersed
  • Mass markets
Product characteristics
  • Technical complexity
  • Customized products
  • Standardized products
Service characteristics
  • Service, timely delivery and availability are critical
  • Service, timely delivery and availability are somewhat important
Buyer behaviour
  • Involvement of cross-functional teams in both buyer and supplier firms
  • Purchase decisions are mainly made on rational/performance basis
  • Technical expertise sought
  • Stable interpersonal relationship between buyer and seller
  • Involvement of family members
  • Purchase decisions are mostly made on physiological/social/ psychological needs
  • Less technical expertise
  • Non-personal relationship
Channel characteristics
  • More direct channels
  • Fewer intermediaries/ middlemen
  • Indirect channels
  • Multiple layers of intermediaries
Promotional characteristics
  • Emphasis on personal selling
  • Emphasis on advertising
Price characteristics
  • Competitive bidding and negotiated prices
  • List prices for standard products
  • List prices or maximum retail price (MRP)

With the growth of the services sector, marketers realized that services cannot be marketed in the same way as the products. Certain characteristics of services posed serious problems for marketers who realized that services marketing must be done differently and not with the same marketing mix (4 Ps) variables. Service characteristics like intangibility (service firms don’t sell a tangible thing, but a promise) inseparability (production and consumption of services take place at about the same time), heterogeneity (the problem due to the fact that no two service providers are like, nor are the service consumers) and perishability (service providers cannot maintain inventories of their products). To cope with these challenges, service marketers suggest additional 3 Ps - process, physical evidence and people.

The process is aimed at solving the heterogeneity or variability problem associated with the services by providing a service blueprint. The physical evidence solves some of the problems associated with the intangible nature of services. The physical evidence in terms of service environment, equipment, personnel and so on attempts to tangibilize the intangible. The final P - People - gives lot of attention to the service providers because they are, strictly speaking, part of the service provided. They can influence the perceived service quality in a big way.

With the world becoming a global village, marketers started targeting global audience for their products and services. International marketers implement the basic marketing framework discussed earlier. However transactions that cross national boundaries encounter an additional set of environmental factors. For example, differences in laws, economic conditions, cultural and business norms and consumer preferences other demand variations in marketing strategies. The biggest challenge in international marketing is managing the international business environment.

With many uncontrollable factors, sharing complex relationships among them, the international marketer faces the dilemma of whether to standardize or differentiate his marketing mix.

Non-profit organizations encounter a special set of characteristics that influence their marketing activities. Like for-profit firms, non-profit firms may market tangible goods and/or intangible services and operate in B2C and B2B markets. An important distinction is that profit-seeking businesses tend to focus their marketing on just one public - their customers.

Non-profit businesses however must often market to multiple publics (say, their clients and sponsors), which complicates decision making regarding the markets to target. Also a customer or service user may wield less control over the organization’s destiny than would be true for customers of a profit-seeking firm. As a result, non-profit marketing must fine tune its marketing variables to adjust to these conditions.

Functions of Marketing

Firms must spend money to create time, place and ownership utilities as discussed earlier. Several studies have been made to measure marketing costs in relation to overall product costs and service costs and most estimates have ranged between 40-60 percent. These costs are not associated with raw materials or any of the other production functions necessary for creating form utility. What then does the consumer receive in return for this proportion of marketing cost? This question is answered by understanding the functions performed by marketing.

In the following table, marketing is responsible for the performance of 8 universal functions: buying, selling, transporting, storing, standardizing and grading, financing, risk taking and securing marketing information. Some functions are performed by manufacturers, others by marketing intermediaries like wholesalers and retailers. Buying and selling, the first two functions represent exchange functions. Transporting and storing are physical distribution functions.

The final four marketing functions - standardizing and grading, financing, risk taking and securing market information - are often called facilitating functions because they assist the marketer in performing the exchange and physical distribution functions.

Table Functions of Marketing

Marketing function Description

A. Exchange functions

1. Buying

Ensuring that product offerings are available in sufficient quantities to meet customer demands
2. Selling Using advertising, personal selling and sales promotion to match goods and services to customer needs

B. Physical distribution functions

3. Transporting 4. Storing

Moving products from their points of production to locations convenient for purchasersWarehousing products until needed for sale

C. Facilitating functions

5.  tandardizing and grading

Ensuring that product offerings meet established quality and quantity control standards of size, weight and so on
6. Financing Providing credit for channel members or consumers

7. Risk taking

8. Securing marketing information

Dealing with uncertainty about consumer purchases resulting from creation and marketing of goods and services that consumers may purchase in the future Collecting information about consumers, competitors and channel members for use in marketing decision making

Case Study: Master of the Online Supermall (excerpt from Business Today, May 2004) could well go down in history as a love child born of the heady fling that the stockmarket had with dotcoms in the late 1990s. But the company, founded by Jeff Bezos in July 1995 when the internet was still an untested business medium, is a survivor-par-excellence.

It floundered a bit in the swirl of the dotcom bust, but unlike thousands that were swept away, reinvented itself and emerged stronger. The 40-year old Bezos, a computer science grad from Princeton University, is the pioneer of Internet Retailing. His compelling vision introduced a new paradigm for retail, the click-and-buy model; buy goods from a website instead of a physical store, from wherever there is an internet connection: home, office or cyber-cafe. A model that gave convenience to buyers, and mind-boggling market reach to sellers.

Named after the mighty Amazon river and its numerous tributaries that surge through dense rain forests, was started with an initial investment of a few thousand dollars. In less than three weeks after the website went live, Bezos and his wife Mackenzie were pulling in sales of over $20,000 a week. And soon after going public in 1997, the company had a market capitalization higher than that of its brick-and-mortar rivals. In 1999, Bezos was chosen as Time Magazine’s ‘Person of the Year’. But things changed soon after and the dotcom bust saw lose almost 90 percent of its market cap in 2000.

Bezos didn’t give up on his vision. He set about transforming from a website selling books into something much bigger: the world’s largest online retailing platform. A series of tie-ups with companies like Toys R Us and Target helped give the website the feel of an online supermall where a customer could buy almost anything. Marketing initiatives followed - from free shipping to highly discounted prices to very customized offerings (based on customer profile) to wide distribution through sites which can divert traffic to for a small commission. But the biggest move was Bezos’ decision to make the site ‘more global’.

The moves have paid off. The company announced its first full-year profit in 2003. It has been making money now for three straight quarters and revenues have exceeded a billion dollars for the last six quarters. If proof was needed that there is money to be made in online retailing, this is it. And Bezos has proved that the right idea, coupled with perseverance, pays in the end.

Questions: How does bring utility or create value for its customers? Explain the marketing framework of What do you learn about marketing from the Amazon story?

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