Marketing Essay

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Marketing identifies unfulfilled needs and desires and satisfies those needs and desires in the target market. Marketing entails an entire process that involves identifying opportunities in the market that have potential to make a profit, developing a new product,  attracting the customer  to the product  or service, keeping the  customers,  building  brand  loyalty, and  creating value for customers. Companies that do this well are successful marketers.  Marketing  is no longer just a department in a company; various departments work together  to market  a product  or service. Nowadays marketing  starts even before there is a product.  It is effective only if the company is successful in delivering the promised value and satisfaction.

In simple terms, marketing encompasses everything a company does to place its product  or service in the hands of its target market. The target market is the potential customers  of that product  or service. People no longer just buy the product; they buy the ideas behind  the  product—ideas  of what  that  particular product  would do for them. Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks both sell coffee and both are successful chains. Dunkin’ Donuts’ target market  is serious coffee drinkers who need a quick inexpensive cup of coffee on their way to work.

Starbucks,  on  the  other  hand,  is marketing  not just coffee but an entire experience, lifestyle, variety, flavor, and music to its target market. The Starbucks target  market  is customers  who want  not  just coffee but ambiance, a place to relax, read, work, meet friends, listen to new music, etc. At Starbucks, people are buying the concept  of flavor, ambiance, and fun. Marketers  today take time to discover who their target market is and how to reach them.

There are two types of marketing: lateral and vertical. Lateral marketing  is to create a new market.  In lateral marketing, an existing product  is transformed to satisfy new customers. Cereal manufacturers realized that the market was saturated  and there was no more  room  for growth.  A European  company  took cereal  and  turned  it into  a healthy  snack  that  can be eaten any time, not just for breakfast, and thus a new market for healthy cereal snacks was developed. In vertical marketing,  potential  customers  are converted and a new market  is developed. It is a niche market. An example is technology-oriented products. The real goal of marketing is to own a market rather than  compete  for a market.  Apple, Ikea, Wal-Mart, and  are all great examples of companies that realized that to invent a new market is better than competing for share.

Marketing decisions can be categorized as a mix of the 4Ps: product, price, place, and promotion.  Professor Jerry McCarthy introduced the 4Ps framework in the first edition of his book Marketing, published in 1960. Marketers make decisions based on these 4Ps in the target market.


The integral part of the marketing mix is the product. A product is anything that can satisfy the target market’s needs and wants. A product includes more than a physical good or service. It can be a person (Tiger Woods, political figures, Madonna), a place (Niagara Falls, Disney World, Hawaii), an organization  (Red Cross, Girl Scouts), and  also ideas (quit  smoking,  drive safely). A product  is designed, manufactured, and presented to the target market for sale. In order to decide what product to offer to the market, the marketer researches and thinks about what product will add value, provide a benefit, fulfill the end user’s needs. A product can be an existing product line or a new product. Brand name, quality, style, features, functions, etc., have to be kept in mind in terms of the product.  Characteristics  of a product need to be defined.

Marketers  need  to  ask themselves: What  makes the product better than the competitor’s? What is the brand image? How do consumers  perceive the product? What  does the customer  want from the product? What needs does it satisfy? What features does it have to meet these needs? What shape, size, color? Name of the product?  How is it branded?  Branding is an  important part  of marketing  that  falls under the product  category. People are willing to pay a premium price for strong, well-known, trusted  brands. Consumers  have become  very brand  conscious  and brand  oriented,  and  companies  are  spending  millions to establish brand recognition and awareness in the eyes of consumers. A great brand brings to mind certain  attributes,  such as the product  features  and brand  characteristics.  It should also suggest a visual of the brand users and the company values.


Price is the cost that the consumer pays to receive the product. It is an integral part of the mix. Costs to produce and sell the product  and pricing strategies need to  be determined.  Should  the  price  be lower than competitors’ or higher? How much are intended customers  willing to pay for the product?  What  are the costs to sell and produce the product? These are some questions  marketers  need to answer at this stage. A marketer can adopt various pricing strategies:

  • Penetration pricing: This is usually when a new product is being introduced in the  market.  A low price is set to enter  and  gain the  market, increase sales and market share.
  • Competition pricing: Determine a price based on what the competitor’s product price is.
  • Bundle pricing: Bundle a group of products and sell as a package.
  • Skimming pricing: Start by keeping the price of the product very high and then at a later stage lower the price to appeal to a mass market.
  • Product-line pricing: Price different products within the same product range at different price points. This lets the company maximize its profits.
  • Psychological pricing: When the product is sold at $0.99 instead of at $1, or $1.99 instead of at $2.
  • Premium pricing: Price is set at a high level as the product is premium and offered to an exclusive target market.


Place or  distribution  is making  sure  the  product  is available where the target market wants it. Marketers decide how to distribute  the product  at the right time and in the right place. Manufacturers can choose to sell their products directly to consumers or through wholesalers and retailers. At this stage, marketers  research where consumers  look for the product.  Decisions on market coverage (inclusive, selective, or exclusive distribution)  are made. What  are the distribution  channels? What distribution  channels do competitors use? Is a sales force needed to sell the product, or are there other  channels  such as the internet,  specialty stores, supermarkets,  or direct mail? For example, Dell uses direct distribution  from manufacturer to consumer.


Promotion  is the final P in the marketing mix. It deals directly with the consumer.  Promotion  includes the various tools of marketing communication. Some methods  of promotion are advertising,  public relations, sales promotion,  personal  selling, direct mail, internet  promotion,  and  promotional  strategy  (pull and push strategy). All this increases consumer awareness of the products that exist in the market and also provides knowledge about the product  features and benefits. These marketing communication channels also help educate, inform, and persuade consumers.  Companies  use  these  promotional   vehicles  to enhance  the  product’s brand  image and  encourage consumers  to try the new product  or remain loyal to their brand.

Important questions  need to be answered  at this point: What  mode should be used to get across the marketing  messages to the  target  market?  How do we reach the audience? Do we use advertising in the newspaper  or TV ads or on the radio, billboards, or internet?  If it is a new product  launch, when is the best time to promote the new product? What are competitors doing to promote  their  product?  What factors influence the choices the company makes on its promotions?  An effective marketing  communication is needed. No matter what the mode of marketing is, it has to be successful in delivering a clear, concise, effective message to the target market.

This last P in the marketing mix also comprises promotional  strategies.  The marketer  needs to develop the  message  strategies.  What  message  do we want delivered  to  the  target  market?  Will it be through branding, or perhaps a new logo? The message should reinforce the benefits of the product  and develop the positioning  strategy of the product.  Companies  that have been successful with effective message strategies include McDonald’s (“I’m Lovin’ It”) and Nike (“Just Do It”).

There  are  two  important kinds  of  promotional strategies: push and pull. A “push” promotional strategy uses methods  to create  consumer  demand for a product. The producer promotes the product to wholesalers, the wholesalers promote  it to retailers, and the  retailers  promote  it to consumers.  A push strategy tries to sell directly to the consumer, bypassing other distribution  channels. In push strategy, consumer  promotions and advertising are the most likely promotional tools. It is all designed to have the retailer promote  one product  to the end users over a different product.

A “pull” selling strategy requires high spending on advertising and consumer promotion to build up consumer  demand  for a product.  If the strategy is successful, consumers  will demand  the  products  from their  retailers, the retailers  will ask the wholesalers, and the wholesalers will ask the producers. Examples are “50 percent  off today”  or “bring in this coupon to save 25 percent” or “buy one, get one free,” “spend $100 and get $25 off your purchase.”

A successful promotional strategy is not just claiming that the product  is better than any other product in the market but making a claim that is true. Example: If a company promotes  a sofa as a product  that is comfortable  and  of superior  quality but  the  sofa does not live up to the claim or the claim is incorrect, it will only hurt  the company. Wal-Mart,  Ikea, and Southwest Airlines have all claimed to have low-priced products  with good quality and all three have innovated ways to keep costs down while maintaining good quality.

Marketing Communication And Promotions

 Advertising is a tool of communication used by marketers to inform potential consumers about the product, product features, benefits, and availability. Advertising  also reinforces  the  brand  image to  maintain brand loyalty. Advertising media include newspapers, television, radio, magazines, movies, the internet, and billboards. Advertisements  are usually placed where the target audience can easily see it/hear  it. Companies spend billions on advertising, and it is the most effective and expensive tool of communicating persuasive messages to the target audience.

Subliminal or covert advertising is becoming  very popular. Marketers are placing their products or brands on popular TV shows or movies. The audience sees the brand being used by a famous, well-liked person on TV or in a movie and does not realize that the product  is being advertised to them. Subliminal advertising is the technique  of exposing consumers  to product  pictures or brand names without consumers  having conscious awareness that they are being exposed to advertising.

Example: Omega watches and Aston-Martin cars were seen in the James Bond movies.

Other  tools include public relations,  which manages a company’s internal  and external communication  to  build  and  maintain  the  company’s positive image. Also, sales promotion is an integral part of the promotion mix. Sales promotion is used to increase demand to enhance market share and profits. Examples  include  contests,  coupons,  rebates,  loyal customer rewards programs, sweepstakes, etc.

Personal  selling is the oldest form of promotion. Companies use a sales force to communicate the product and its benefits to potential buyers and close the deal and make a sale. It also involves developing a relationship with the potential buyer and extending exceptional customer service. The major advantage of personal selling is that it involves a personal face-to-face activity that allows room to customize the message to the consumer’s needs. For example, pharmaceutical and consumer  product  companies employ a large sales force to sell their products.

Direct mail is unsolicited  mail sent to consumers to inform them about the products and services available. It is commonly referred to as junk mail. Direct mail is marketing  in which companies  market  and advertise directly to consumers without using media. Direct mail includes advertising flyers and catalogs. A major  advantage  of direct  mail is that  marketers are able to target the exact consumers  they want. A major disadvantage is the cost. In internet  advertising, companies  use  the  internet   to  advertise  their brands and communicate messages to their audience. This includes banner advertising, e-mail spam, search engines, pop-up ads, and affiliate advertising.

Many  marketing   gurus  are  now  talking  about a fifth P in the mix: positioning.  This is part of the promotion mix, but many marketers  feel that extra emphasis  should  be made  on product  positioning, market positioning, and corporate positioning. Spending  more  time  earlier  on  positioning  goes a long way for marketers.  The success of a new product  depends  on  how  consumers  perceive  it, what they think of the product,  what they take from the positioning. Companies that differentiate themselves can position themselves as a brand  that is different from competitors and offer a unique  product  with benefits that succeed and reap profits.

Product Life Cycle

Understanding the product  life cycle is very important as it impacts the marketing  mix. There are four stages in the product life cycle:

  1. Introduction stage: In the introduction stage, the company wants to introduce  the new product and build product  awareness and develop a market  for the product.  This stage includes (a) product: branding is established; (b) pricing may be low in order  to build market  share; (c) distribution  is selective, just enough  to introduce the product to consumers; and (d) promotion is aimed at innovators and early adopters. Marketing strategy is to build product awareness and to educate consumers about the product.
  2. Growth stage: In the growth stage, the company wants to build  the  brand  and  increase  market share. Product  quality is sustained  and any needed improvements are made. Pricing is maintained as the firm tries to gain more market share and gain new consumers. Distribution  channels are added as demand  increases and customers accept the product. Promotion  is increased and aimed at the entire target market.
  3. Maturity stage: At the maturity stage, the strong growth levels off. Competition increases. Product features may be enhanced to differentiate the product from that of competitors.  Pricing may be lower due to increased  competition.  Distribution increases and more incentives are offered to consumers. Promotion  now includes product differentiation.
  4. Decline stage: As sales decline,  the  firm  can choose to maintain the product, perhaps repackage, redesign, and rejuvenate by adding new features and finding new uses; or to discontinue the product  or sell it to another  firm that is willing to continue the product.

International Marketing Versus Global Marketing

In international marketing, marketers apply the marketing  mix decisions to more than  one country. In global marketing,  marketers  integrate  marketing decisions  across  multiple  countries.  As an international marketer,  a firm may start exporting  to a foreign country or, if doing business seems lucrative in a foreign country, a firm may enter and start marketing to that specific country. As a global marketer, the firm makes decisions keeping the entire world market  in mind. The home  country  is not the focus—marketing decisions are made keeping in mind how they will affect the product or firm globally.

Globalization has changed the way companies  do business. It has also impacted marketing. Companies are no longer competing  in their  respective regions only but are now competing  on a global level. Even if some marketers  had not planned it this way, global marketing is now an integral part. In the past, a company only had to worry about  marketing  within  its national boundaries, but due to rapidly growing technology and  globalization,  companies  now focus on their home market as well as outside competition  in their home market. A global marketer views the entire world as one market. In this scenario the global marketer makes marketing and business decisions based on how they affect the regional markets.

The same 4Ps of the marketing mix apply in global marketing,  but  marketing   decisions  and  applications are different in global marketing. A global marketing  company  launches  a single product  and makes changes to the same product  depending  on the  demands  of the  different  markets  around  the world. The logo and brand  remains  the same in all the  regions,  for  example,  Nike, Coca-Cola,  Pepsi, Microsoft, and Apple.

Price is different in every market. How the product is distributed  is also a region-by-region  decision that  depends  on the target  market  and competition in a specific region. Promotion  is usually the  most important P in the marketing  mix in global marketing. Decisions as to whether the message will be the same or will be different in every country are made at this stage. In global marketing  the biggest advantage is that  companies  can  achieve economies  of scale, increase and sustain their brand image worldwide, and increase their presence and brand recognition worldwide. The disadvantage, on the other hand, is that the competitive  environment and  consumer  needs  are different in every region. Local companies know the market; they understand the consumers better than a foreign company.

Some products are easy to sell globally like beverages and electronics such as iPods, laptops, and cell phones,  but  some products  like clothing  and food require  local adaptation.  Global marketers  need to analyze their markets, conduct market research, and get to know the consumers  in all regions and cultures  before  they mass market  a product  globally. Many developing countries  now have an increased demand  for products  that  are mature  or declining products  in the West, thus  giving many marketers the opportunity to sell their  products  globally at a greater  profit.  Today  global multinational marketers are everywhere. A person can fly American Airlines to Asia, rent a car at Hertz, have a McDonald’s burger with fries and a Coke, buy an Apple or Microsoft computer,  and catch The Bold and the Beautiful on  a brand  new Samsung,  Sony, or  Panasonic TV. This is an example of marketing  in a borderless world. Companies such as Coke, Pepsi, and McDonald’s  are  successful  marketers—they  have  worked hard  to understand their  markets  and the  culture, tastes, and attitudes of their customers. McDonald’s has a similar marketing strategy but has customized its burgers according to region. It offers burgers with no bacon options in Muslim-oriented countries that do not eat bacon or ham.

Marketers who have not studied their markets are not successful globally and experience resistance from the market. For example, Toys “R” Us, after doing well in Europe and the United States, tried to capture the Japanese market but faced much opposition  and difficulty. They had to find a local partner  to enter  the market. Coke, when marketing to Indian consumers, had based its advertising on its worldwide image and had not made any changes in its marketing  strategy. Pepsi, on the other hand, had customized  their marketing  strategy  and  advertising,  keeping the  Indian locals in mind and using local heroes as brand ambassadors. This practice put Pepsi in a better position in India than Coke.

Car manufacturers such as Honda, Toyota, and Nissan have developed their own niche markets globally. They do not sell standardized  cars but customize the product  and marketing  strategy based on the region and its demands. Procter & Gamble is a good example of a successful global brand that has expanded rapidly into new markets by tailoring their products  to meet local consumer demands in each country.


  1. Gary Armstrong and Philip Kotler, Marketing: An Introduction (Pearson Prentice  Hall, 2007);
  2. Philip R. Cateora and  John  Graham,  International  Marketing (McGraw-Hill  Irwin,  2007);
  3. Philip  Kotler,  According to Kotler: The World’s Foremost Authority  on Marketing Answers Your Questions (AMACOM, 2005);
  4. Philip Kotler and Kevin Lane Keller, Marketing Management  (Pearson Prentice Hall, 2009).

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