Marketinginvolves keeping producers aware of the needs of consumers and ensuring that their products are made available to consumers in the way and form they want.
Any firm which accepts this need as its main responsibility is said to be dominated by the marketing concept. This attitude distinguishes firms in free-market economies from those in centrally-planned economies where central government dictates what should be produced and supplied to consumers.
Marketing involves market research, distribution, pricing, advertising, selling and other functions.
The aim of market research is to find out:
a) what consumers want and advising producers accordingly, and
b) recommending the standard of quality, style of packaging, choice of brand-name and general design of the products concerned.
Distribution. Products can be distributed to consumers in different ways. Some are best distributed through the manufacturer's own retail outlet, some through a network of wholesalers and retailers, others by direct mail-order.
Pricing. Marketing managers should always be in close touch with market conditions so that they can advise on the best price (not necessarily the highest) to charge for products.
Advertising. If customers do not know about new products, they will never buy them. They also need to be reminded, from time to time, of the existence of established products. Marketing managers are expected to know the best ways to advertise products. This involves choice of media (for example, radio, television, press, hoardings). It also involves knowing the best form advertisements should take, and the advertising slogan to be used.
Selling involves the skills of personal selling, together with display and presentation skills such as those involved in window displays, exhibitions, news releases and product promotions.
Market research is an essential part of marketing. This should not only precede the introduction of new products, but should keep a regular check on what is happening to existing ones. The object of market research is, primarily, to find out what the public wants. If a product is needed, it will sell.
Market researchers also attempt to find out in what form, shape, colour and package the public will accept the product. They also try to keep track of changing patterns in demand. The successful firm is the one that can commence production today for the needs of tomorrow.
Market research must be distinguished from consumer research. This looks at marketing from the consumers' point of view. It is concerned with such questions as which of many rival products represent the best value for money, and how best the consumers' interests can be safeguarded.
Market researchers will, of course, be concerned not only with what products are needed and what will 'sell' them, but with the peculiarities of the markets with which their firms are concerned. Are there any moral, legal or social reasons why the proposed product should not be marketed in the area under consideration? In what way will demand, and the type of appeal that will have to be made to consumers through advertising, have to take account of the social, linguistic and racial backgrounds of the potential customers?