Marketing is a human activity. The origin of marketing is as old as mankind. During the primitive era and antiquity, individuals or families exchanged the agricultural products they had for those they did not have. As society developed, objects designated as cowries, beads, feathers, etc. they were used in exchange for goods and services. Marketing as a subject of study and discipline has undergone some levels of evolutionary change in its meaning, understanding, and scope. These changes are the product of the shift from a primitive and subsistence economy to a market-driven economy.
Various writers define marketing differently. One of the first definitions was given by the American Marketing Association (AMA) in 1960. The association defined marketing as “the performance of commercial activity that directs the flow of goods and services to the customer or end user.” This definition has become obsolete. This is because it is no longer consistent with contemporary marketing dynamics. Marketing is more than the distribution of goods and services.
Some definitions were subsequently tried that captured the meaning of marketing and new perspectives are emerging. Let’s see some of them:
1. The British Chartered Institute of Marketing defined marketing as “the responsible management process of identifying, anticipating and meeting customer requirements in a cost-effective and efficient manner”.
2. The British Institute of Marketing defined marketing as “the creative management function, which promotes trade and employment by assessing consumer needs and initiating research and development to meet them.”
3. Kotler (1997: 9) defined marketing as “a social and managerial process by which individuals and groups obtain what they need or want by creating, offering and exchanging valuable products with others”.
4. Nickels et al (1999: 379) described marketing as “the process of determining customer needs and wants and then providing customers with goods and services that meet or exceed their expectations.”
The content analysis of the last four definitions shows that there are basic concepts that are common among them. The concepts are needs, wants, demands, products, value, satisfaction, exchange, market and marketers.
Modern marketing requires marketers to analyze customer needs and requirements. The goods, services and ideas thus produced are aimed at satisfying the company’s customers and creating value. The definitions also show that marketing comes into play long before goods and services begin to flow from the producer to the customers. This is because it is marketing that conceives or anticipates needs or wants, which are the antecedents of production. Today’s marketing is not the exclusive domain of business activities; Nonprofits are beginning to appreciate the importance of marketing in rapidly changing business environments. Therefore, marketing is widespread and is used by schools, churches and mosques, public services, industries, military, etc. to get the desired responses from the target audience.
Fifield (1993: 1) described marketing from a completely different perspective. He conceived of marketing as having four interrelated aspects for different purposes. The four aspects are:
(1) an attitude of mind,
(2) a way to organize the business,
(3) a range of activities and
(4) the profit producer.
An attitude of mind: as a lifestyle marketing concept
How to organize the business: structure and adapt the organization to meet the needs and wishes of customers
Marketing, simply put, is a social and administrative function that aims to satisfy human needs and wants through the exchange of goods and services by for-profit individuals and / or institutions.
Exchange process and gaps.
For the exchange transaction to complete, the two parties must exchange something of value. A successful exchange process can be hampered by the presence of gaps or separations between the parties or producers and consumers of goods, services and ideas.
Cox et al (1964: 56) gave five important gaps. These are:
1. Spatial separation: producers and buyers are often geographically separated. That is, the goods are produced in one geographic area but are distributed to different geographic areas. These goods, while remaining with producers, are separated from consumers by geographical distance.
2. Temporal Separation: Parties to a potential exchange are generally unable to complete and exchange at the time the products are produced. The product must be available to consumers.
3. Perceptual Separation: The two parties to the exchange may be unaware or interested in the other’s offer.
4. Separation of ownership: initially, ownership is incidental to the producer. The marketing system facilitates the transfer of ownership from the producer to the consumer.
5. Separation of values: the producer and the consumers give different values to a product.