The Role of the
DONALD R. LONGMAN
Business management [S
increasingly dependent upon
marketing to gain enduring
This article describes the
rich opportunities for success
presented by a change
rn the approach to marketing
stafF work and acquisition
of professional personnel
GREAT DEAL has been written in recent years about the
marketing concept. We may expect to see much more; for
competition in American industry is increasingly centered in marketing-.
This is a substantial change from the situation only a few
decades ago. Success then hung on creative skill in evolving substantially new types of products, new production processes, new
efficiency systems. Each step forward in these areas produced relatively strong and enduring competitive advantages.
This is much less true today. Mass training of skilled research and development men and of production engineers, increased
mobility of manpower, and mass communication at the professional level have all served to spread technological know-how
with amazing speed. Competitors employ research men and engineers of parallel training, professional contact, and skill. If one company's team seems relatively inept in the competitive battle, it is still possible to call upon a superior group of consulting engineers for help while a new team is being built.
Under these conditions, competitors quickly identify and match successful innovations made by any company in their field. They may even improve on the original innovator's ideas. It would be vain to suppose that even such corporate giants as Esso, U. S. Steel, or^ General Motors could gain and hold for long a major competitive advantage in product or manufacturing process. Indeed, it has become common practice to grant licenses to competitors on a royalty basis, thus removing technical innovations
as a basis of competitive advantage in the market.
It^ is this comparative equality in production skills that is forcing a shift in the weight of competition to marketing. Marketing is still a relatively unexplored area. Our customers are so
many, so scattered, and so nonhomogeneous in nature and in
demands that they are difficult to understand. We are not even sure how we can best serve them economically and efficiently. Changes are still commonplace among big, well-established companies in such basic elements as channels of distribution, discount systems, warehousing arrangements, and service policies.
Such changes grow as much out of uncertainty and insecurity
m marketing decision as out of changes in the market itself or m marketing institutions. Marketing offers a rich area of opportunity for competitive advantage, richer today than that offered
by any other phase of business. But if a company is to seize this opportunity, a lot has to be done.
30 Journal of Marketing, July, 1962
Requirements for Efficient Marketing
1. A Sound Understanding of the Market
First, it is essential to acquire a comprehensive
understanding of the market itself. This is a matter
of getting the facts, completely and accurately.
One has to know the exact size of the market
and its geographical distribution. One must know
who make up the market, the numbers and kinds
of people. Where do they buy, in what quantities,
how often, why? What products are available for
them to choose among? What are their characteristics,
their prices, tbeir patterns of distribution?
What are the products used for, what satisfactions
do they provide? Why is one brand chosen over
another; and why do people change in their choices?
There is so much that needs to be known, and
known well. How else can we think constructively
of the marketing process until we have a solid
grasp of the facts, a sure sense of perspective?
The truth is that little effort to think constructively
about marketing was made during the decades
when competitive success was established by...
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