The Essentials of Consumer Marketing: From Targeted Advertising to Bundling Services

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Introduction

With consumers purchasing products on a daily basis, marketing seems to envelope everyone’s daily life. From the billboards one sees on their way to work, to the t-shirt of a fellow co-worker, it seems that consumers are almost being targeted 24 hours a day. Everyone seems to know the advertising exists but what exactly is marketing? The actual definitions seem to vary slightly, but the ideas and concepts are all very similar.

Definition

Based on personal experience, the author believes that marketing is a combination of multiple business plans. These include a firm business plan, as well as a sound strategy to advertise the product at hand. Marketing must include everything from brand recognition and differentiation to actually defining how a demographic might react to a certain product.

According to the American Marketing Association, a professional association of marketers, the true definition of marketing is:

“Marketing is an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders.”

This ties in directly with the author’s concept of encompassing multiple aspects of the business world to accomplish a goal. In this case the AMA strives to improve business organizations and their stockholders (New Marketing).

According to other online resources such as Wikipedia, the actual definition varies depending on application. Ultimately it is defined as a “Societal process that is needed to discern consumer’s wants”. Marketing can then be broken down into areas such as advertising, direct marketing, or even public relations (Wikipedia).

Despite one specific and one vague definition, both agree that consumers and sellers are involved to the point of offering something of value. This could be a product or even a service.

Examples

Let’s take for example Wal-Mart. It’s almost certain that any given day consumers are target by at least one Wal-Mart advertisement. This is not coincidental. This was planned out by Wal-Mart executives! Wal-Mart advertises itself and the products that they sell to consumers all the time. Through marketing they are letting themselves be known that they offer a wide variety of products at discount prices. They are actually marketing themselves in many cases and not just the product. They often times advertise the complete customer service experience in addition to an actual product. With this advertising, customers are driven into the stores to find bargain deals on necessary or wanted items. The store then completes the transaction and the process starts all over again another day.

One brilliant marketing example that sticks out was a simple Circuit City ad that was published years ago. In the television commercial a young boy is seen eating breakfast with his father and he sees an advertisement for a walkman tape player. The father then speaks in a stern tone instructing his son that he is growing up now and he knows what to do. Upon walking into the store and approaching the customer service department, the boy points out that he purchased an item a week ago, presumably the walkman, and that it was no on sale. The clerk then gives him the difference of the transaction in cash. The boy and cashier then make comments about how easy it was doing business.

This particular advertisement wasn’t necessarily an advertisement for portable tape players, but instead was an advertisement that let customers know that Circuit City was offering a guarantee that they had the lowest prices. This was meant to build brand loyalty, as well as show customers that their prices would always match of the competition. This was an excellent way for the company to market their promise to the customer of price matching.

For a final example, let’s take AT&T. This global communications company has recently launched a marketing strategy that encompasses many of their core products, not just telephone service. By marketing to consumers, the company is attempting to sell more items and services by bundling, or offering discounts for multiple services. For example, the price of home telephone service and wireless cellular service is reduced if they are bundled together with the same carrier. In this case the company is not only advertising price, but also value. By having one carrier for services such as telephone, wireless, home security as well as wireless, they are following their specific marketing plan of getting customers to get more services with one provider. Quite simply a one key fits all type of scenario.

Customers who may have previously only had one particular service with the company are swayed to add additional services due to the bundling discount that is available. Again, in many cases actual services are actually offered and not individual products. To stand out from the competition, AT&T is attempting to lure all of the consumer’s product needs to one company.

Conclusion

Despite multiple definitions, it can be agreed upon that marketing is the process or the planning of getting products or services into the hands of consumers. The ultimate goal of course is profit, which is what all companies seem to want. Some times the actual product is physical, others it is intangible or even a particular service performed. By leveraging these marketing principles, companies such as Wal-Mart, AT&T, and Circuit City reach out to their customers to offer things in an effort to obtain greater revenue.


References

"Marketing." Wikipedia. Wikipedia. 10 Dec. 2007. Keyword: Marketing.

"New Marketing Definition." American Marketing Association. 15 Sept. 2004. 10 Dec. 2007 <http://www.marketingpower.com/content24159.php>.

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