Marketing as a managerial activity involves analysing the market opportunities, planning the marketing activities, implementing marketing plans, and setting control mechanisms in such a way that organizational objectives are accomplished at minimum cost. In other words, marketing is:
- understanding consumer needs
- environmental scanning and market opportunity analysis
- development of a competitive marketing plan and strategy such that an organization is able to satisfy not only the consumer’s needs but also achieve its own objectives.
- implementation of the marketing plan and development of tactical plans to overcome problems at the market place
- development of control mechanisms
This perspective implies that in order to achieve competitive advantage, a firm needs to scan its external environments to spot market opportunities. Its marketing mix needs to fit the local market dynamics. Further, in order to ensure a high rate of customer acquisition and retention a firm’s marketing mix has to be customer centric.
Marketing management therefore is a critical function especially in highly competitive markets. Good and effective management can provide the much needed competitive advantage to an enterprise, irrespective of its size and product mix.
Marketing is not only used by firms, but also by customers depending on the type of their involvement. Customers too, use various concepts like offering buying and selling in relating themselves to the firm. Hence, he believed buyer and marketer are roles assumed by individuals in an exchange transaction.
For example, if a buyer is passively involved in an exchange transaction, he accepts whatever is offered to him by a marketer. This corresponds to the production concept used by the marketer, a situation that existed in most product categories in India before the era of liberalization. Here, the buyer may have perceived little or no value in participating in the exchange process. But when the buyer aggressively searches for alternatives and knowledge about suppliers, compares these alternatives and negotiates prices and other commercial terms, he/she uses the buying concept. The seller today aggressively sells his merchandise. The most common way of succeeding here is through differentiation and mounting aggressive price promotion wars in the market place. XYZ Electronics did this to enter the highly competitive entertainment electronics market. It positioned its Akai range of television sets and music systems as the best value of money by offering them at prices so low that others could not match. Besides this, to attract customers, it offered exchange schemes and several other freebies. The Indian customer was now getting used to the benefits of competitive markets. Now, he/she aggressively looks for similar bargains in automobiles and other durables and non-durables. As opposed to this marketing concept, both buyer and seller roles are perceived as interdependent and both seek long term relationships.
Marketing is, therefore an important organizational function. The marketing concept requires an understanding of the market and does not suggest that products be designed just to satisfy market demand. Though satisfying the market demand is important to yield profits any organization ha to examine the costs and volume of market response before deciding to develop any new product.
In view of the above discussions one observes that the role of marketing in modern organizations is that of integrating the needs and wants of the customers with other organizational functions like production, R&D, finance, and personnel. Examples, of today’s companies show that neither marketing nor any other function alone holds the key to success. Rather, all are important. It is evident that marketing performs the role of integration.
An interesting feature of successful companies is the integration of objectives of all corporate functions in a way that synergy is obtained. This is important in today’s competitive environment because the responsibility of marketing the product and also of expanding / maintaining market share rests on every individual in the organization. Let s study companies where such integration does or does not exist. A well-known large sized public limited company, producing and marketing agricultural inputs like urea, found itself in the midst of stiff competition from other local and foreign brands. The company had been operating in a sheltered market and hence had not bothered about packaging, quality, price or equitable distribution. Now, in a changed situation, all these factors were as critical as selling skills and other marketing strategies and tactics. But, the marketing and other departments continued to work at cross purposes, leading to further deterioration in the company’s performance.
Another company, manufacturer of consumer durables, had excellent integration between all its functions. The R&D department while working on a new model of cooking range worked along with production, finance, and marketing. The result-an excellent cooking range, just the kind required by Indian middle class consumers, and at the price they could afford.
The above examples illustrates that today there is no problem with a company which is‘ “purely marketing” or “purely production”. Rather each is total business problem requiring an integrative solution. Objectives flow from corporate goals and influence every division’s objective formation.