Table of Contents
Marketing, as a function of the organization, plays the role of creating, communicating and delivering the value to the customer. According to Samli (2010), marketing is a tool that many organizations use to manage the customer relationships. In as much as the role of stakeholders in the organization continues to transform, the position of customers has remained cemented in the organization. Therefore, marketers have advanced their persuasion skills to encourage consumers to spend more on products and services that they do not want. In this discussion, the shifts in the functions of marketing are going to be analyzed. Consequently, the discussion analyses the societal forces behind the shifts in marketing and the subsequent effect of these shifts on the dynamics of consumer purchasing habits.
The foundation of this debate comes from the argument that traditionally, marketing has often been defined in terms of satisfying customer’s wants and needs. Critics of this definition argue that the modern day business environment has transformed marketing; thereby arguing that marketing goes beyond its traditional definition to envisage the creation of consumer needs and wants that did not exist before.
Today, Davis (2014) explains, the level of information available at the disposal of the stakeholders in a market has obligated marketers to shift their strategy more towards building a relationship with the customer, which enables the marketers to suggest the needs and demands of the target market. Besides, the markets today are becoming more robust and open, with globalization and information technology expanding the scope of consumer tastes and preferences. Therefore, Sagar (2013) warns that the modern society, unlike in the traditional from which marketing retrieves its definition, does not determine or suggest the customer needs and wants.
In the modern competitive environment, the consumers determine their own needs and wants, with marketing playing a restricted role in enabling the customers to fulfill these needs. External factors, such as technology, cultural diversity and vast product portfolios have expanded the levels of consumer exposure, hence cancelling the role of marketing as satisfying the needs and wants of consumers.
Therefore, marketers today shape the customer needs and wants. Feldman (2017) explains that marketers are tasked with influencing the thinking of the customer, as the information asymmetry in the market already plays the role of satisfying the needs of the customer. With the bulk of information, the problem of choice always surfaces for customers. Besides, consumers are susceptible to changing their minds depending on the ability of the marketer to develop a connection with the preferred choice of the customer.
However, when analyzing the changing role of marketing, Enerson, Mason and Corbishley (2016) note the importance of marketers to observe the ethical perspectives that stipulate the customer’s freedom of choice and freedom from manipulation when making purchase decisions. In a market where there is information symmetry, the customer aims at attaining maximum utility from the amount of money available for purposeful consumption. In light of this, Faisal (2016) argues that it is unethical for marketers to persuade consumers to purchase more than they planned to spend, or spend on goods and services that they do not need.
More to this argument, Hauser and Shugan (2008) defined the market as a mere reflection of the needs and wants of the society. The individual choice and responsibility supersedes any external forces that influence the consumer’s purchasing behavior. With the large quantity of information available today, consumers have a greater freedom of choice, and enjoy wider criteria for product and service evaluation. Therefore, the claims of changes in marketing can be attributed to the transformation of the market, which is a depiction of the societal needs and wants. The changes in the society manifest through influence, social status, power, social identity and peer pressure, Marketers have no role to play in determining the shifts in these societal factors.
There are significant broad shifts in marketing today. As Hauser and Shugan (2008) note, more firms today are shifting their marketing strategies to depict the concepts of ethics, consumer empowerment and corporate social responsibility. The firms, furthermore, are driven by need to focus on the decisions of the customer, rather than on the benefits that the firm will acquire from satisfying the customer needs. The main themes that emerge from these shifts are consumer empowerment, decentralization and technology.
Globalization has definitely transformed the approach that firms have towards developing effective marketing strategies. With globalization, the intensity of competition increases, and the focus of firms expands to capture the diverse marketing strategies. As such, firms are obliged to engage with the consumers across the diverse platforms presented by technology. This has led to diversification of marketing roles beyond the departmental function that is stipulated in the traditional definition of marketing. The decentralization of marketing entails the development of several marketing teams that engage consumers on different platforms, such as print media, visual media, social media and online platforms (Faisal, 2016). Therefore, technology has prompted changes in the scope of marketing, with societal forces, rather than marketing personnel, playing a pivotal role in determining the success of marketing strategies.
Having identified the broad shifts, it is imperative to identify the main societal forces behind the shifts in marketing. Feldman (2017) explained that the society determines the trends of marketing adopted by firm in different markets and industry globally. The author listed income, education levels, technology and socio-cultural values as the main social factors that define the shifts in marketing.
The above societal forces can be mapped onto the shifts that characterize marketing today. This discussion listed consumer empowerment, technology and decentralization as the main shifts in marketing. Consumer empowerment refers to the level of awareness that the consumers have about the products and services in the market. The consumer empowerment is determined by the level of education of the consumer as well as the technology, which determines the ability of the consumer to access information of products. Decentralization, as a feature of shifting marketing practice, has fragmented the consumers based on their dominant characteristics such as age and gender. This shift is attributed to societal forces such as income, which defines the purchasing preferences of a consumer and the socio-cultural values that determine the consumer’s tastes and preferences based on their demographics and lifestyle.
Therefore, the customers are the primary stakeholders to whom the organization is answerable, as Hauser and Shugan (2008) put it. Marketing is a discipline of organizational management that involves persuading the customers through skilled personnel and techniques that encourage the customer to purchase a product. This has been the traditional role of marketing, but as Samli (2010) illustrates, marketing practice has shifted towards other conventional functions other than satisfaction of customer demands. In conclusion, marketing has been linked to propagating changes in the consumer purchasing habits.
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- Enerson, M., Mason, R., & Corbishley, K. (2016). Factors that influence the marketing of professional services. Investment Management and Financial Innovations, 13(3), 118-130.
- Faisal, A. (2016). Marketing Strategies in Online/Digital Marketing. Account and Financial Management Journal, 27(4).
- Feldman, K. (2017). Do economic and societal factors influence the marketing strategies of a firm?.Marketing Economics, 54, 172-182.
- Hauser, J., & Shugan, S. (2008). Defensive Marketing Strategies. Marketing Science, 27(1), 88-110.
- Sagar, M. (2013). Online Marketers Beware: M-Commerce is changing Your Game. IOSR Journal Of Business And Management, 15(4), 20-26.
- Samli, A. (2010). Developing counterchaos marketing strategies: the key to survival and success in modern chaotic markets. The Marketing Review, 10(2), 185-202.