Marketing Definition

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The development of marketing is tied up with the development of human society. For centuries, human activity revolved around meeting the basic needs of food, shelter, and some form of clothing. As human beings started to live in villages their needs increased and included different types of security-related products and services.

Some form of marketing was practiced by human society since people produced a surplus of food and other necessary items. Barter exchange was the earliest form of marketing. People have always sought the best value in the barter exchange process, whether goods were exchanged for goods or services. The exchange process became easy when money was involved to facilitate the exchange.

The shape of marketing that we see today in the form of global brands, wide product and service choices, aggressive promotions, value creation and delivery, and customer relations management have developed over a period of last fifty years. Marketing today has become a powerful science in the hands of business firms not only to satisfy customers through value creation and delivery but also to achieve a competitive edge in the marketplace. The growing value of the Internet and cyberspace has opened up a whole arena of new marketing technologies, techniques, and interpretations.

Marketing is a social process. Its activities are designed to meet the needs and expectations of society. Human society is changing very rapidly in the current times. Social values, norms, and behavior are radically changing, so are technology and methods of doing business. As human society changes, the meaning of marketing in that society also changes.

The practice of marketing is closely associated with the socio-economic development of a society. Its role in a particular society varies with the dynamism in the society. The dynamism in marketing can also be noted in the various definitions of marketing that have evolved over time. The marketing scene in metropolises like Kathmandu is dominated by shopping malls, department stores, supermarkets, and marts, while in the rural areas people still grow their own food and buy other necessities from the village general stores.

Marketing comes in a wide variety of flavors based on audience, media platform, and business in today’s evolving and dynamic marketplace. Therefore, it’s no surprise that marketers define what they do differently.

Marketing Definitions

American Marketing Association (AMA) Definitions

Marketing was formally defined for the first time in 1960 by the American Marketing Association (AMA). In 1960, the major issue in marketing was distribution. Accordingly, AMA viewed marketing as:

“The performance of business activities that direct the flow of goods and services from the producer to consumer or user.”

This definition adequately represented the marketing of that period. In the post-second world war period manufacturers, produced goods and services in very large volumes, and the major problem faced by sellers was making them available to the buyers. This first formal definition of marketing naturally emphasized the distribution aspect of marketing by focusing on the movement of goods and services.

AMA revised the definition of marketing in 1985. Marketing in 1985 was defined as a management process that involved planning and implementation of the marketing mix (4Ps). AMA’s 1985 definition was as follows:

“Marketing is the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion and distribution of ideas, goods and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organizational objectives.”

This definition recognized marketing as a process that involves planning and implementation of activities undertaken to create exchanges that meet individual and organizational goals.

AMA’s definition of marketing in 2013 is as follows:

“Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. (Approved July 2013)”

This definition has included some important dimensions of modern marketing such as creation, communication, and delivery of value not only to customers but also to society at large.

Philip Kotler’s Definitions

Philip Kotler, the prominent author of marketing literature has been regularly updating the definition of marketing.

In 1990, Kotler’s definition of marketing was as follows:

“Marketing is a social and managerial process by which individuals and groups obtain what they need and want through creating and exchanging products and value with others.”

This definition recognized marketing as a social process — activities are undertaken by human beings for the benefit of other human beings. The participants in the process are individual consumers and groups (families, organizations, and government). The marketing activities focus on creating and exchanging products (values) to meet the needs of the buyers.

Kotler’s definition of marketing in 2010 was as follows:

“Marketing is a societal process by Which individuals and groups obtain what they need and want through creating, offering, and freely exchanging products and services of value with others”

In this definition, Kotler recognized marketing as a societal process and the knowledge of marketing can be used to meet various social needs and solve various social problems.

In 2014, Kotler’s definition of marketing was as follows:

“Marketing is the science and art of exploring, creating, and delivering value to satisfy the needs of a target market at a profit. “

According to Kotler, marketing identifies unfulfilled needs and desires. It defines measures and quantifies the size of the identified market and the profit potential. It pinpoints which segments the company is capable of serving best and designs and promotes the appropriate products and services.

Other Definitions

Marketing is the process by which a firm profitably translates customer needs into revenue. – Mark Burgess

Marketing is creating irresistible experiences that connect with people personally and create the desire to share with others.-Saul Colt

Marketing is delighting a consumer, customer, and/or user to achieve a profit or other pre-established goal. – Steve Dickstein

Marketing is the act of developing an engaging relationship with every single human being that shows an interest in you. —Paul Flanigan

Marketing is the art and science of persuasive communication. —Dave Kerpen

Marketing is anything you create or share that tells your story. —Ann Handley

Marketing is the process of building relationships with prospects and customers so that you can profitably develop and promote products and services. — Chris Garrett

Marketing is an ongoing communications exchange with customers in a way that educates, informs, and builds a relationship over time. -Renee Blodgett

Marketing is the art and science of creating, delighting, and keeping customers while making a profit and building enterprise value. -Max Kalehoff

Marketing is discovering what the prospect wants and demands and delivering it more efficiently and effectively than the competition. -Paul Kulavis

Marketing defines the business opportunity, identifies profitable customers and products/services that will meet customer needs, builds customer relationships, drives customer demand, and communicates corporate or product/ services value. -Ann Z. Marshman

Marketing is the art and science of creating demand to drive profitable growth. David W.  Mischler    -President, Altascend Consulting

Marketing is the unique opportunity to establish respect and a relationship with your target audience in a way that compels them to become addicted to your products or service, your support. —Jeanniey Mullen

Marketing is all activities designed to attract and connect customers with the products and services they need —Patrick Prothe

Marketing strives to Connect a product or service with a market for that product or service.        —Michael Puican

Marketing is about focusing efforts to develop deep insights into customer behavior and overall market conditions to drive sustainable profitable growth for the company.   —Humphry Rolleston

Marketing is understanding your buyers really, really well. Then creating valuable products, services, and information especially for them to help solve their problems.  —David Meerman Scott

Marketing is marshaling all available resources to deliver constantly on the fundamental principle that it’s not what you want to sell, but what customers are looking to buy.   —Jim Siegel

Marketing is the belief that profitable sales and satisfactory returns on investment can be achieved by identifying, anticipating, and satisfying customer needs and desires.        —Peter Drucker

Marketing is the “business activity of presenting products or services to potential customers in such a way as to make them eager to buy.” —Encarta Dictionary

Summary of the definitions

Marketing can be looked at as an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, delivering, and communicating value to customers, and customer relationship management that also benefits the organization. Marketing is the science of choosing target markets through market analysis and market segmentation, as well as understanding consumer behavior and providing superior customer value. From a societal point of view, marketing is the link between a society’s material requirements and its economic patterns of response. Marketing satisfies these needs and wants through the exchange processes and builds long term relationships with its stakeholders

The definitions so far presented before us imply that:

Marketing deals with identifying and meeting human and social needs; or more specifically, marketing means meeting customers’ needs profitably through the exchange and transaction process.

In view of the emerging marketing thoughts and practices, our definition of marketing is as follows:

Marketing is exploring, creating, and delivering value and satisfaction to the target market with appropriate design and implementation of the marketing mix.

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