Marketing is one of those technical terms which can entice strong feelings, and on which many individuals hold strong views - but which is not yet very well accepted. In fact, marketing is a relatively recent phenomenon, having come to popularity only in the last fifty years; indeed many businesses have yet to adopt in their formal organizations. Like any human undertaking, it is continuously changing and is therefore very difficult to adjust effectively and efficiently without proper study and evaluation.
Before defining marketing, let us clarify some misconceptions, and state what it is not: Marketing is definitely not business of inducing people to buy what they don't really need. This view widely held by marketing's critics, (ordinarily from outside the business world) does not stand up to evaluations. In reality, it is very difficult to entire individuals to buy a product. Just consider yourself as a consumer or as an executive: how easily do you part with your own or your business money? We all buy goods and services which in some way meet our needs, and which do so better than the alternative. As we shall see and think, the decision process may be complicated, with multiple goals and considerations between different factors, such as: price, quality, usefulness, convenience, etc; but in the end, we finally buy those things that suit our needs and interest.
In other words, marketing activities does not help to influence buying decisions, especially in the choice between competing brands. Even heavy advertising cannot persuade people to buy something once. However, if a purchase does not give satisfaction in some way, the consumer shall not buy the same brand of product again.
In the same manner, marketing activities does not create needs which did not exist before. Such an argument, which accepts that consumers buy to meet a perceived need, also assumes that marketing has enormous power to alter the way people feel. Again, careful evaluation of the statement suggests that the discussion is based on a falsity, and is back up by very limited facts. "Real" needs are really very few, such as: food and water, some clothing and shelter. Majority of people can assume that these necessities are available; beyond the basics, they begin to exercise choice, and personal preferences come into vital role.
Most purchases are made to meet a combination of need and want; to separate them is difficult, and not needed. This is what is meant by such "the market force will decide.": businesses will produce what they see fit, and the sum of the individual choices made by the consumers will decide products survive. Thus, the market force decides which products best meet consumer's needs.
Example that marketing can make us want things we did not realize we needed seems at first glance rather stronger. The number of products now available which simply did not exist fifty years ago, or more, would appear to indicate that we can be influenced. This statement, too, depends on how we define needs. Seventy years ago we did not know we "needed" television; forty years ago we did not "need" a video-cassette recorder. On the other hand, we have always needed entertainment, and we always will. Technology - and marketing - may offer us different ways of satisfying that need. If we choose not to have television - and many do - we can find entertainment in other ways. Business will always try to find new and better products and services; the market - the total buying decisions of all customers and consumers - will decide whether a new product is better, that is whether it better meets our needs, than the existing ones. Marketing is not about advertising, or selling, or creating an image, although all three may be activities contained within marketing.
According to Peter Drucker, "True marketing starts out with the customer, their demographics related needs and value. It does not ask, What do we want to sell? It asks, What does the customer want to buy? It does not say, This is what our product or services does? It says, These are the satisfactions the customer looks for.
This is as good a definition as any of the "marketing concept" which can be distinguished from what marketing people in a business enterprise actually do. The marketing concept is about how the enterprise as a whole operates.
This definition is directed on the needs, demands and interest of the customer and consumer: that is what exactly is meant by a marketing orientation.
And now, are you ready to market your business?