What is the Marketing Concept and Why It Keeps Winning

What is the Marketing Concept and Why It Keeps Winning

The marketing concept gave birth to the modern marketing profession and its principles hold just as true today just as they did when they were first codified in the mid-1950s. In the following article, we�ll trace the evolution of the marketing concept and look forward to see what it may grow into in the future.

What does marketing concept mean?
It is the philosophy that a company should produce things that its customers want/need, then convince them to buy it. Give your customers what they want, and they will buy it� Seems like a pretty obvious thing right? In reality, it took over 200 years of trial and error to develop this concept and we�re still perfecting it. In simple terms,

The Origins and Development of the Marketing Concept
Economics, marketing, and business are social advancements. As these systems grow in complexity and efficiency they allow humans to accomplish more and cooperate better on an ever-growing scale. The marketing concept is one of the most important elements of these systems.

There were 3 major business philosophies that came before the marketing concept. Companies use these philosophies to understand the marketplace and their role in it. Each has had its heyday and then evolved into another more practical iteration. While we can see traces of the marketing concept all the way back to the late 1700�s, the true timeline begins in the early 20th century.

1920s (The Production Concept): �If you make it, somebody will buy it.� This philosophy was based on Say�s Law, from French economist Jean � Baptiste Say. The law theorizes that production creates demand and assumes that you�ll sell as many units as you can produce. An example of this in action would be Ford during the time period, they streamlined their production process and in turn increased sales.
1930s (The Product Concept): �The better you make it, the more people will buy it� As its name implies, the product concept is product-centric. It assumes that the consumer will be able to discern a higher quality product, appreciate its craftsmanship, and happily purchase it. A business operating with this mentality will focus on constantly improving its products regardless of the improvements� necessity.
1940s (The Selling Concept): �If you make it, you need to get people to buy it� This theory is all about making a product first and then figuring out how to sell it. The product doesn�t change based on input from the market, the market should change based on the output from the sales team. It puts a lot of undue pressure on a sales team if a product they are trying to sell is not wanted or needed.
1950s (The Marketing Concept): �You only make it if people will want to buy it� This is the theory that listens. It is completely focused on finding out what the customer needs and then creating products that satisfy those needs. The reason why this approach is used today so much more than the others is simply that it works.

The Marketing Concept in the Digital Age

We live in a world today where all viable startups are born by analyzing and predicting the needs of their potential customers. Once the needs are understood a startup finds ways to satisfy those needs through technology.

Take Airbnb for example. Through trials and heavy market analysis, they were able to identify that not only did people have space they were willing to rent, there were people who wanted to rent it. They simply sold these two groups a way to conduct this exchange efficiently. This peer to peer rental market was new and exciting, but Airbnb only scaled when the market dictated that it should. This is a prime example of how modern companies use the marketing concept to create new revenue streams.

The marketing concept gave birth to ideas like consultive selling: The process of interviewing your customers, uncovering their needs/wants and suggesting a solution. Nothing matters except the specific conditions and problems that face that particular customer. This is extremely effective because if a solution is found through this method then everyone in the exchange wins. It promotes transparency both during and after the sales process and leads to higher levels of repeat business. The marketing concept works great as long as the customers being analyzed don�t want things that hurt the social good or destroy the environment.

The rise of the Societal Marketing Concept

So what do you do if after you conduct your market analysis you find that the people want a product that is unethical or will cause damage to the environment? Should you still produce and sell it to them? It�s a tough question.

The societal marketing concept takes the marketing concept to the next level by expanding the pool of information gathered during analysis stage to include the needs of society and of the environment. It�s the reason why we don�t let cigarette companies market to children. Sure they�d sell a bunch more cigarettes, but it would not be a good thing for society as a whole.

Something strange happens when companies start to include society and the environment into their market analysis, they start to make products that are good for all three. A company like Tom�s shoes is a great example. They make shoes that people love to buy. They donate a pair of shoes to someone in need for everyone that they sell, and the use environmentally sound production methods. Striving for products that people want while simultaneously helping enrich society and the environment should be the goal of modern companies.   

Final Thoughts

We have come a long way from just seeing how much of a product we could produce as fast as possible. The modern marketing concept evolved out of the realization that the consumer is the most important element of the marketing equation. While we are not there yet by any means, we are moving closer to an age where the environment and society will be consistently added to that equation as well. Marketing may be our best shot at saving the planet.
Follow Me on FB