Every business survives on the money of its consumers. Marketing is the way to reach those consumers.
Marketing is not just about putting up posters on streets, telecasting a 30-second video for introducing a product or giving out goods or services at low/no cost. It focuses on developing relations with the consumers by identifying their needs and wants, and then developing products and services that meet their expectations.
In the words of Philip Kotler –
Marketing is a social and managerial process by which individuals and groups obtain what they want and need through creating, offering and exchanging products of value with others.
It isn’t a one-sided affair. It requires an uninterrupted interaction between the business and the customer. Thus, the importance of marketing cannot be ignored in the business context.
To better understand the concept, let’s delve into the functions of marketing.
The 12 Functions of Marketing
Marketing is vast, it starts before the offering is actually produced and often runs for as long as the offering stays, even after the sale has taken place.
Marketing functions can be divided into the following 12 parts:
- Identifying needs & wants of customer
- Developing marketing plan
- Product Development
- Standardisation & Grading
- Packaging & Labeling
- Providing Customer Support
Identifying Needs And Wants Of Customer
Satisfying the needs and wants of the customer is critical to the survival of any business. Thus, the business needs to be familiar with these needs of the customer in the first place so as to meet their expectations. For this, market research needs to be conducted to gather information about the preferences of the target consumers.
Questions regarding what the consumers want, in what quantity and price, at what time and place, etc. must be answered while conducting the market research. After analysing this information, all the major decisions concerning the offering can be taken to ensure their reliability.
Developing Business Plans
Once the business has all the information needed about the market and the customers, it needs to come up with a strategy that helps the company to achieve its objective while considering the environment of the market. The company needs to plan how much it will produce, how it will distribute and how it will promote its products. All of this is decided and a timeline is prepared according to which further steps are taken by the business.
Every business produces a product or provides a service to satisfy the needs of the customer. Through the market research conducted, the business becomes familiar with the needs and wants of the customer. It then develops its product or service according to the preferences of its majority target customers.
This function also includes designing the product in a manner that makes it easier for the consumer to handle it. The cost and durability are some other factors that need to be considered while designing a product. Product Development is not a one-time process, rather it’s a continuous process. This means, that even after the product has reached the market, the producer needs to develop it regularly to keep it up-to-date with the needs of the consumers.
Pricing of the product is one of the most significant and complicated functions of marketing. Choosing a high price might lead to lower demand for the product and a low price might lead the company to run out of business. Thus, the price should be set by the marketer after doing considerable research and taking into account factors like cost of production, competitors’ price, market conditions, type of target customer, extra expenses incurred, profit margin, etc.
The business must understand that the price of a product largely determines how much customer share they will earn and therefore, changing the price frequently can have an adverse impact on the revenue of the company.
Standardisation & Grading
Standardisation is defined as fixing up a standard for the product with respect to the size, weight, quantity, quality, design, colour, etc. and sticking to it. This helps in ensuring uniformity in the product produced. Consumers get attracted to the standardised product because of the consistency in quality and standardisation also leads to reduced cost for the business, thus benefitting both the parties.
Grading is defined as classifying the products on the basis of their size, quality, quantity and other characteristics. It is mostly done for agricultural products and is a sub-function of standardisation. Grading eliminates the need to convince the consumer of the quality of the product on the part of the seller. It also allows the seller to charge higher prices for better quality products.
Packaging & Labelling
Packaging is defined as an activity undertaken to protect the product from the harms of the external environment. It aims at avoiding breakage, spoilage, damage or destruction of the goods during transit or storage.
Labelling is defined as the process of designing and developing the label of the product so as to give out relevant information to consumers regarding the product. It helps in easy identification of the product and can help the brand stand out in the market.
The package and the label are the first things that a consumer comes in contact with. Therefore, it needs to be given considerable importance when finalising the marketing plan.
Branding is the process of giving a particular name, symbol or design to a product or a range of products to make it easily distinguishable from the other products in the market. Brand of a business can also help in communicating its values to the consumers. It is responsible for shaping the consumer’s perception of the business.
Distribution entails all decisions that are related to the process of making the goods or services available to the consumers. If even after producing premium quality products at the lowest of prices, the manufacturer cannot make them available to the ultimate consumer, all the efforts put in to design and develop the product are wasted.
Factors like distribution channels, inventory, order processing, and others are taken into consideration to create time and place utility. Distribution ensures that the right product is available at the right time at the right place to the right consumer.
The goods are not necessarily consumed at the place of their production. The product’s parts might be manufactured at one place, they may be assembled at another place, sold at a different place and then ultimately consumed at a distance of thousand miles from the place of production. Transportation helps the businesses in bridging this gap and making available the goods to its consumers.
The physical movement of goods from the place of production to the consumer is transportation. It is an important function of marketing as it determines the reach of any business. Local and National boundaries are required to be taken into consideration while making decisions regarding transportation and the mode of transportation is accordingly chosen.
The products manufactured are not sold to the consumers on the day of production immediately. To solve this problem, the marketing function of warehousing provides a space to store goods until they are ready to be sold. The goods manufactured need to be stored at a safe place to avoid them from getting ruined. Warehousing ensures that the products are stored in the right manner by providing place utility and making available the goods as and when required.
Warehousing is also responsible for maintaining price stability of the products. If the product is available in the market in bulk, the price may fall and if the product faces a shortage in the market, its price might shoot up. Thus, warehousing ensures that the right amount of goods are available in the market.
Once the product is in the market, the consumers need to be aware of its presence to buy it and enable the business to earn revenue. The promotion function is responsible for making the consumers aware about the goods produced, their features and characteristics, their prices and other necessary information.
This can be done through advertising, personal selling, sales promotion, sponsorship of events and other such activities that assist in publicising the product. Promotion is done while considering the budget of the company. The objective of this function is to inform the existing and the potential customers so that they buy the product and higher revenue can be generated.
Providing Customer Support
Communication between the customer and the business does not end once the product is sold. In today’s world, where the customer is considered a king, customer support services are even more important than selling the product itself.
For any business, retaining its customers is essential to maintain an image in the market as well as to incite new customers to buy their product. Customer support services ensure that the customer is happy with the product during its life cycle and is not facing any problems with it. Some of the examples of customer support services include consumer helpline, maintenance services, technical support, credit facilities and other after-sale services.
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