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Steve Jobs's marketing skills have been credited for reviving Apple Inc. and turning it into one of the most valuable brands.[1][2]

Marketing is the act of satisfying and retaining customers.[3] It is one of the primary components of business management and commerce.[4]

Marketing is typically conducted by the seller, typically a retailer or manufacturer. Products can be marketed to other businesses (B2B) or directly to consumers (B2C).[5] Sometimes tasks are contracted to dedicated marketing firms, like a media, market research, or advertising agency. Sometimes, a trade association or government agency (such as the Agricultural Marketing Service) advertises on behalf of an entire industry or locality, often a specific type of food (e.g. Got Milk?), food from a specific area, or a city or region as a tourism destination.

Market orientations are philosophies concerning the factors that should go into market planning.[6] The marketing mix, which outlines the specifics of the product and how it will be sold, including the channels that will be used to advertise the product,[7][8] is affected by the environment surrounding the product,[9] the results of marketing research and market research,[10][11] and the characteristics of the product's target market.[12] Once these factors are determined, marketers must then decide what methods of promoting the product,[5] including use of coupons and other price inducements.[13]


Marketing is currently defined by the American Marketing Association (AMA) as "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".[14] However, the definition of marketing has evolved over the years. The AMA reviews this definition and its definition for "marketing research" every three years.[14] The interests of "society at large" were added into the definition in 2008.[15] The development of the definition may be seen by comparing the 2008 definition with the AMA's 1935 version: "Marketing is the performance of business activities that direct the flow of goods, and services from producers to consumers".[16] The newer definition highlights the increased prominence of other stakeholders in the new conception of marketing.

The 18th century retail entrepreneur Josiah Wedgwood, who devised a number of sales methods for his tableware, is "credited with inventing modern marketing" according to the Adam Smith Institute.[17]

Recent definitions of marketing place more emphasis on the consumer relationship, as opposed to a pure exchange process. For instance, prolific marketing author and educator, Philip Kotler has evolved his definition of marketing. In 1980, he defined marketing as "satisfying needs and wants through an exchange process",[18] and in 2018 defined it as "the process by which companies engage customers, build strong customer relationships, and create customer value in order to capture value from customers in return".[19] A related definition, from the sales process engineering perspective, defines marketing as "a set of processes that are interconnected and interdependent with other functions of a business aimed at achieving customer interest and satisfaction".[20]

Some definitions of marketing highlight marketing's ability to produce value to shareholders of the firm as well. In this context, marketing can be defined as "the management process that seeks to maximise returns to shareholders by developing relationships with valued customers and creating a competitive advantage".[21] For instance, the Chartered Institute of Marketing defines marketing from a customer-centric perspective, focusing on "the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably".[22]

In the past, marketing practice tended to be seen as a creative industry, which included advertising, distribution and selling, and even today many parts of the marketing process (e.g. product design, art director, brand management, advertising, inbound marketing, copywriting etc.) involve the use of the creative arts.[23] However, because marketing makes extensive use of social sciences, psychology, sociology, mathematics, economics, anthropology and neuroscience, the profession is now widely recognized as a science.[24] Marketing science has developed a concrete process that can be followed to create a marketing plan.[25]


The "marketing concept" proposes that to complete its organizational objectives, an organization should anticipate the needs and wants of potential consumers and satisfy them more effectively than its competitors. This concept originated from Adam Smith's book The Wealth of Nations but would not become widely used until nearly 200 years later.[26] Marketing and Marketing Concepts are directly related.

Given the centrality of customer needs, and wants in marketing, a rich understanding of these concepts is essential:[27]

Needs: Something necessary for people to live a healthy, stable and safe life. When needs remain unfulfilled, there is a clear adverse outcome: a dysfunction or death. Needs can be objective and physical, such as the need for food, water, and shelter; or subjective and psychological, such as the need to belong to a family or social group and the need for self-esteem.
Wants: Something that is desired, wished for or aspired to. Wants are not essential for basic survival and are often shaped by culture or peer-groups.
Demands: When needs and wants are backed by the ability to pay, they have the potential to become economic demands.

Marketing research, conducted for the purpose of new product development or product improvement, is often concerned with identifying the consumer's unmet needs.[28] Customer needs are central to market segmentation which is concerned with dividing markets into distinct groups of buyers on the basis of "distinct needs, characteristics, or behaviors who might require separate products or marketing mixes."[29] Needs-based segmentation (also known as benefit segmentation) "places the customers' desires at the forefront of how a company designs and markets products or services."[30] Although needs-based segmentation is difficult to do in practice, it has been proved to be one of the most effective ways to segment a market.[31][28] In addition, a great deal of advertising and promotion is designed to show how a given product's benefits meet the customer's needs, wants or expectations in a unique way.[32]

B2B and B2C marketing

The two major segments of marketing are business-to-business (B2B) marketing and business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing.[5]

B2B marketing

B2B (business-to-business) marketing refers to any marketing strategy or content that is geared towards a business or organization.[33] Any company that sells products or services to other businesses or organizations (vs. consumers) typically uses B2B marketing strategies. The 7 P's of B2B marketing are: product, price, place, promotion, people, process, and physical evidence.[33] Some of the trends in B2B marketing include content such as podcasts, videos, and social media marketing campaigns.[33]

Examples of products sold through B2B marketing include:

The four major categories of B2B product purchasers are:

B2C marketing

Business-to-consumer marketing, or B2C marketing, refers to the tactics and strategies in which a company promotes its products and services to individual people.

Traditionally, this could refer to individuals shopping for personal products in a broad sense. More recently the term B2C refers to the online selling of consumer products.[34]

C2B marketing

Consumer-to-business marketing or C2B marketing is a business model where the end consumers create products and services which are consumed by businesses and organizations. It is diametrically opposed to the popular concept of B2C or Business- to- Consumer where the companies make goods and services available to the end consumers. In this type of business model, businesses profit from consumers' willingness to name their own price or contribute data or marketing to the company, while consumers benefit from flexibility, direct payment, or free or reduced-price products and services. One of the major benefit of this type of business model is that it offers a company a competitive advantage in the market.[35]

C2C marketing

Customer to customer marketing or C2C marketing represents a market environment where one customer purchases goods from another customer using a third-party business or platform to facilitate the transaction. C2C companies are a new type of model that has emerged with e-commerce technology and the sharing economy.[36]

Differences in B2B and B2C marketing

The different goals of B2B and B2C marketing lead to differences in the B2B and B2C markets. The main differences in these markets are demand, purchasing volume, number of customers, customer concentration, distribution, buying nature, buying influences, negotiations, reciprocity, leasing and promotional methods.[5]

Marketing management orientations

Main article: History of marketing § Orientations or philosophies that inform marketing practice

A marketing orientation has been defined as a "philosophy of business management."[6] or "a corporate state of mind"[37] or as an "organizational culture."[38] Although scholars continue to debate the precise nature of specific concepts that inform marketing practice, the most commonly cited orientations are as follows:[39]

The marketing mix

Main article: Marketing mix

A marketing mix is a foundational tool used to guide decision making in marketing. The marketing mix represents the basic tools that marketers can use to bring their products or services to the market. They are the foundation of managerial marketing and the marketing plan typically devotes a section to the marketing mix.

The 4Ps

The 4Ps refers to four broad categories of marketing decisions, namely: product, price, promotion, and place.[7][50] The origins of the 4 Ps can be traced to the late 1940s.[51][52] The first known mention has been attributed to a Professor of Marketing at Harvard University, James Culliton.[53]

The 4 Ps, in its modern form, was first proposed in 1960 by E. Jerome McCarthy; who presented them within a managerial approach that covered analysis, consumer behavior, market research, market segmentation, and planning.[54][55] Phillip Kotler, popularised this approach and helped spread the 4 Ps model.[56][57] McCarthy's 4 Ps have been widely adopted by both marketing academics and practitioners.[58][59][60]

The 4Ps of the marketing mix stand for product, price, place and promotion
One version of the marketing mix is the 4Ps method.


The product aspects of marketing deal with the specifications of the actual goods or services, and how it relates to the end-user's needs and wants. The product element consists of product design, new product innovation, branding, packaging, and labeling. The scope of a product generally includes supporting elements such as warranties, guarantees, and support. Branding, a key aspect of the product management, refers to the various methods of communicating a brand identity for the product, brand, or company.[61]
This refers to the process of setting a price for a product, including discounts. The price need not be monetary; it can simply be what is exchanged for the product or services, e.g. time, energy, or attention or any sacrifices consumers make in order to acquire a product or service. The price is the cost that a consumer pays for a product—monetary or not. Methods of setting prices are in the domain of pricing science.[62]
Place (or distribution)
This refers to how the product gets to the customer; the distribution channels and intermediaries such as wholesalers and retailers who enable customers to access products or services in a convenient manner. This third P has also sometimes been called Place or Placement, referring to the channel by which a product or service is sold (e.g. online vs. retail), which geographic region or industry, to which segment (young adults, families, business people), etc. also referring to how the environment in which the product is sold in can affect sales.[62]
This includes all aspects of marketing communications: advertising, sales promotion, including promotional education, public relations, personal selling, product placement, branded entertainment, event marketing, trade shows, and exhibitions. This fourth P is focused on providing a message to get a response from consumers. The message is designed to persuade or tell a story to create awareness.[62][63]


One of the limitations of the 4Ps approach is its emphasis on an inside-out view.[64] An inside-out approach is the traditional planning approach where the organization identifies its desired goals and objectives, which are often based around what has always been done. Marketing's task then becomes one of "selling" the organization's products and messages to the "outside" or external stakeholders.[61] In contrast, an outside-in approach first seeks to understand the needs and wants of the consumer.[65]

From a model-building perspective, the 4 Ps has attracted a number of criticisms. Well-designed models should exhibit clearly defined categories that are mutually exclusive, with no overlap. Yet, the 4 Ps model has extensive overlapping problems. Several authors stress the hybrid nature of the fourth P, mentioning the presence of two important dimensions, "communication" (general and informative communications such as public relations and corporate communications) and "promotion" (persuasive communications such as advertising and direct selling). Certain marketing activities, such as personal selling, may be classified as either promotion or as part of the place (i.e., distribution) element.[66] Some pricing tactics, such as promotional pricing, can be classified as price variables or promotional variables and, therefore, also exhibit some overlap.

Other important criticisms include that the marketing mix lacks a strategic framework and is, therefore, unfit to be a planning instrument, particularly when uncontrollable, external elements are an important aspect of the marketing environment.[67]

Modifications and extensions

To overcome the deficiencies of the 4P model, some authors have suggested extensions or modifications to the original model. Extensions of the four P's are often included in cases such as services marketing where unique characteristics (i.e. intangibility, perishability, heterogeneity and the inseparability of production and consumption) warrant additional consideration factors. Other extensions include "people", "process", and "physical evidence" and are often applied in the case of services marketing.[68] Other extensions have been found necessary in retail marketing, industrial marketing and internet marketing.

The 4Cs

In response to environmental and technological changes in marketing, as well as criticisms towards the 4Ps approach, the 4Cs has emerged as a modern marketing mix model. Robert F. Lauterborn proposed a 4 Cs classification in 1990.[69] His classification is a more consumer-orientated version of the 4 Ps[70][71] that attempts to better fit the movement from mass marketing to niche marketing.[69][72][73]


Consumer (or client)

The consumer refers to the person or group that will acquire the product. This aspect of the model focuses on fulfilling the wants or needs of the consumer.[8]


Cost refers to what is exchanged in return for the product. Cost mainly consists of the monetary value of the product. Cost also refers to anything else the consumer must sacrifice to attain the product, such as time or money spent on transportation to acquire the product.[8]


Like "Place" in the 4Ps model, convenience refers to where the product will be sold. This, however, not only refers to physical stores but also whether the product is available in person or online. The convenience aspect emphasizes making it as easy as possible for the consumer to attain the product, thus making them more likely to do so.[8]


Like "Promotion" in the 4Ps model, communication refers to how consumers find out about a product. Unlike promotion, communication not only refers to the one-way communication of advertising, but also the two-way communication available through social media.[8]


Main article: Market environment

The term "marketing environment" relates to all of the factors (whether internal, external, direct or indirect) that affect a firm's marketing decision-making/planning. A firm's marketing environment consists of three main areas, which are:


Main article: Marketing research

Marketing research is a systematic process of analyzing data that involves conducting research to support marketing activities and the statistical interpretation of data into information. This information is then used by managers to plan marketing activities, gauge the nature of a firm's marketing environment and to attain information from suppliers. A distinction should be made between marketing research and market research. Market research involves gathering information about a particular target market. As an example, a firm may conduct research in a target market, after selecting a suitable market segment. In contrast, marketing research relates to all research conducted within marketing. Market research is a subset of marketing research.[10] (Avoiding the word consumer, which shows up in both,[74] market research is about distribution, while marketing research encompasses distribution, advertising effectiveness, and salesforce effectiveness).[75]

The stages of research include:


Main article: Market segmentation

Market segmentation consists of taking the total heterogeneous market for a product and dividing it into several sub-markets or segments, each of which tends to be homogeneous in all significant aspects.[12] The process is conducted for two main purposes: better allocation of a firm's finite resources and to better serve the more diversified tastes of contemporary consumers. A firm only possesses a certain amount of resources. Thus, it must make choices (and appreciate the related costs) in servicing specific groups of consumers. Moreover, with more diversity in the tastes of modern consumers, firms are noting the benefit of servicing a multiplicity of new markets.

Market segmentation can be defined in terms of the STP acronym, meaning Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning.

Segmentation involves the initial splitting up of consumers into persons of like needs/wants/tastes. Commonly used criteria include:

Once a segment has been identified to target, a firm must ascertain whether the segment is beneficial for them to service. The DAMP acronym is used as criteria to gauge the viability of a target market. The elements of DAMP are:

The next step in the targeting process is the level of differentiation involved in a segment serving. Three modes of differentiation exist, which are commonly applied by firms. These are:

Positioning concerns how to position a product in the minds of consumers and inform what attributes differentiate it from the competitor's products. A firm often performs this by producing a perceptual map, which denotes similar products produced in the same industry according to how consumers perceive their price and quality. From a product's placing on the map, a firm would tailor its marketing communications to meld with the product's perception among consumers and its position among competitors' offering.[77]

Promotional mix

See also: Integrated marketing communications and Promotional mix

The promotional mix outlines how a company will market its product. It consists of five tools: personal selling, sales promotion, public relations, advertising and social media:

Personal selling: Young female beer sellers admonish the photographer that he also has to buy some, Tireli market, Mali 1989
  • Social media is used to facilitate two-way communication between companies and their customers. Outlets such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Snapchat, Tik Tok and YouTube allow brands to start a conversation with regular and prospective customers. Viral marketing can be greatly facilitated by social media and if successful, allows key marketing messages and content in reaching a large number of target audiences within a short time frame. These platforms can also house advertising and public relations content.[5]
  • The marketing plan

    Main article: Marketing plan

    The area of marketing planning involves forging a plan for a firm's marketing activities. A marketing plan can also pertain to a specific product, as well as to an organization's overall marketing strategy. An organization's marketing planning process is derived from its overall business strategy. Thus, when top management is devising the firm's strategic direction/mission, the intended marketing activities are incorporated into this plan.

    Outline of the marketing plan

    Within the overall strategic marketing plan, the stages of the process are listed as thus:

    Levels of marketing objectives within an organization

    As stated previously, the senior management of a firm would formulate a general business strategy for a firm. However, this general business strategy would be interpreted and implemented in different contexts throughout the firm.

    At the corporate level, marketing objectives are typically broad-based in nature, and pertain to the general vision of the firm in the short, medium or long-term. As an example, if one pictures a group of companies (or a conglomerate), top management may state that sales for the group should increase by 25% over a ten-year period.

    A strategic business unit (SBU) is a subsidiary within a firm, which participates within a given market/industry. The SBU would embrace the corporate strategy, and attune it to its own particular industry. For instance, an SBU may partake in the sports goods industry. It thus would ascertain how it would attain additional sales of sports goods, in order to satisfy the overall business strategy.

    The functional level relates to departments within the SBUs, such as marketing, finance, HR, production, etc. The functional level would adopt the SBU's strategy and determine how to accomplish the SBU's own objectives in its market. To use the example of the sports goods industry again, the marketing department would draw up marketing plans, strategies and communications to help the SBU achieve its marketing aims.

    Product life cycle

    Further information: Product life-cycle management (marketing)

    Product lifecycle, with the assumption of four major phases: introduction, growth, maturity, and decline. Curve of sales as a function of the time of the product on the market. After a plateau in sales at product maturity, a steep decline can follow.

    The product life cycle (PLC) is a tool used by marketing managers to gauge the progress of a product, especially relating to sales or revenue accrued over time. The PLC is based on a few key assumptions, including:

    In the introduction stage, a product is launched onto the market. To stimulate the growth of sales/revenue, use of advertising may be high, in order to heighten awareness of the product in question.

    During the growth stage, the product's sales/revenue is increasing, which may stimulate more marketing communications to sustain sales. More entrants enter into the market, to reap the apparent high profits that the industry is producing.

    When the product hits maturity, its starts to level off, and an increasing number of entrants to a market produce price falls for the product. Firms may use sales promotions to raise sales.

    During decline, demand for a good begins to taper off, and the firm may opt to discontinue the manufacture of the product. This is so, if revenue for the product comes from efficiency savings in production, over actual sales of a good/service. However, if a product services a niche market, or is complementary to another product, it may continue the manufacture of the product, despite a low level of sales/revenue being accrued.[5]

    See also

    Types of marketing

    Marketing orientations or philosophies


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