Being successful in the market economy has always depended entirely on how interested consumers are in purchasing your product. Even before any kind of mass media was available, early business owners realized that getting more people to notice your product directly correlates to getting more people to buy your product. With this realization, the field of marketing was born. Marketing has evolved into a modern science that involves a combination of psychology, social sciences, statistics, and economics. But in its humble beginnings, marketing was little more than market saturation. As the field of marketing has developed, the focus has shifted from the product to the consumer.
One of the earliest forms of marketing, a production-oriented strategy focused on producing as much of the product as possible. This approach serves to increase the product’s availability; the more available product exists, the more consumers can purchase. In addition to virtually forcing increased sales, this strategy allows the business to reach production output that lowers the average cost per unit for the product.
As advances in technology allowed more businesses to increase production, the production-oriented strategy was no longer a sufficient approach to marketing. Focus shifted from simply stocking the shelves with product to creating a higher quality product. The rationale was that better quality would lead to increased sales. Essentially, this strategy is less about active marketing and more about offering a product of higher quality than your competitors.
In the middle of the 20th century, businesses began to realize that they could boost sales by actively promoting the products and highlighting their benefits. It was during this era that the marketing industry enjoyed unparalleled growth and demand. Print, radio, and television ads for everything from motor oil to hair spray became the new way to reach customers and increase sales.
Towards the end of the 20th century, it became clear that simply making a product look appealing in an ad wasn’t enough to sell anymore. Marketers discovered that the consumer base is a diverse mix of people, with different backgrounds, habits, needs, and interests. Successful businesses now start with the consumer, instead of the product. They conduct and use market research to determine consumers’ needs, and then develop products that will meet those needs.
Marketing, as we now know it, is not about advertising a product. It is about communicating to the consumers how this product will meet their needs. It is about letting consumer interest dictate product development, not about developing a product and then trying to figure out how to sell it.
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