The marketing concept underwent many changes before it transformed into the current ‘Customer Centric Marketing’ avatar. Sales driven organizations were the initial models of doing business, driven by their production and product capabilities. Later, improvement in the situation was inevitable as the market dynamics changed according to the priorities of the customers.
The following is a brief on the evolution of marketing from primitive techniques to modern/sophisticated techniques.
Level 0 – Sales organization – The existence of sales organizations can be aptly compared to civilization in the barbaric ages. Sales organizations exist primarily in premature or primitive markets where there is no need of marketing. They exist in two types of market situations – 1. Monopolistic markets and 2. When there is huge demand-supply imbalance. This could also cover government projects awarded by politicians for their cronies. This can be seen in the socialistic economies where a handful of companies attain the business licenses from the government. In these situations, the seller or provider has great advantage, as people do not know the difference between marketing and sales.
The companies do not show interest in reaching out the customers, as they largely focus on making a sale rather than adding value to the customers. As a result, the customers are at the companies’ mercy for the service. The concept of marketing simply does not exist in a sales organisation. Moreover, innovation does not exist in socialistic structures.
Level 1 – Advertising – Advertising in a national TV or paper conveys a sense of reliability to customer. A company that uses advertising as the only marketing tool is practicing a primitive way of marketing. Here advertising starts appearing to ‘promote’ the product. The companies resort to advertising only to make the customer aware of the product. The companies blindly push the products into the market neglecting the product improvement and the customer’s needs. They may try to show product differentiation by highlighting Unique Selling Proposition or Point popularly known as USP, which was coined in 1940s. This may not work well in today’s market, as the requirements of all the customers are not same.
Level 2 – Market Research – Market research is slightly less primitive marketing method. Market research is only confined to the basic aspects of market such as market size, which product/brand is selling, who is buying, media planning and targeting right media for advertising. It could be to discover where customers are willing to pay more for a service. It is to find the size of the most attractive market. Market research will not play a role in designing the products as it is done based on the companies’ strengths. Though the companies get the signals from the customers with a specific need, they are insensitive. Market research exists in such situations where there are intentions to serve the customer.
Level 3 – Customer Relations – Customer relation is the next level of marketing where the companies resort to communicate with the customer. The communication is mostly one-way as they only try to make customer comfortable by the lip service rather than listening to the customers and their needs. At large, they pretend to respond or serve the customer just by asking for a feedback that is often scrapped. At this level, the customer ‘relationship’ will be weak and is not functionally helpful to the customer as still the product/service quality is inferior.
At this level Primitive Marketing ends
Level 4 – Customer centric marketing – Customer centric marketing is essential to move an organization from a primitive to a sophisticated form of marketing. In customer centric marketing, businesses strive to ensure their customers get a fair deal. The companies will be primarily customer focused and use feedback from customers to improve the product/service that functionally is helpful to the customer. This means the needs and wants of customers and potential customers drive most of the firm’s strategic decisions. The companies resort to marketing research, emphasize product benefits rather than features, and have innovative marketing techniques to reach out the customers.