Marketing is one of the most vital assets to every company, regardless of its industry. Due to the vast array of competing companies in today’s marketplace, managers are consistently developing strategies that enable them to gain a competitive advantage in the industry. Marketing not only aids in the company’s ability to increase sales, but also enables them to effectively analyze and study the marketplace in order to develop strategies that meet the overall needs of their consumers. Without an adequate marketing strategy, companies are ineffective in developing relationships with their consumers and limit their awareness of their brand within the industry.
Recently, here has been great controversy over whether marketing is used to create or satisfy consumer needs. Many consumers feel that marketing creates needs in the industry, and due to their strategies, expose consumers into buying unneeded products or services, forcing them in a spiral of depth and unmet satisfaction. Marketers believe that consumers have the ability to distinguish from needs and wants, and it's the marketer’s objective to satisfy the needs of the consumer. However, marketing does not create needs, but only enlightens wants. Needs pre-exist marketing, and it’s up to the marketer to understand consumers’ needs in order to influence them into purchasing products. In other words, it is the company’s goal to get the customer attention by attracting them to purchase a particular product amongst all like competitors.
A variety of competitors are vying for a small market share within the industry, therefore marketing strategists analyze the industry, consumer behavior, geography, demographics and personal interest in order to develop a strategy that will communicate the targeted consumer. Therefore, marketing is the process of creating customer value through creative strategies around consumer wants and needs, in turn, increasing brand awareness and overall profits throughout the industry. As previously stated, needs are not created but analyzed by marketers.
In marketing, needs are defined as a state of felt deprivation, where one lacks the necessity deemed necessary in society, such as physical needs for food, clothing, warmth, and safety. Marketers do not create necessity, rather the necessity was established from the consumers’ societal upbringing. In this case, wants become needs when it is valued towards an object or thing that is believed to satisfy a need and wants are expression of needs that is formed by the individuals and their culture. Since consumer needs are underlying forces in making purchasing decision, marketers analyze these needs and categorize them into five separate entities, known as stated, real, unstated, delighted and secret needs.
Stated needs are what customers ask for. Primarily, stated needs are general needs that are evident, such as wanting to buy a home. Real needs are what the stated needs actually mean, such as the location and size of the house which are more specific in nature. Unstated needs are what customers expect but do not ask for, such as friendly neighbors or convenient services. Delighted needs are not essential, but are rather pleasant to receive, such as the customer decides on the quality of wood, stone and lawn of their property. Lastly, secret needs are needs that consumers are reluctant to express, such as the status they would feel after purchasing the house.
Since needs are underlying, allocating and marketing needs to consumers takes a great deal of research, analysis and strategy to implement. The Marketing process (Situation Analysis, Marketing Strategy, Marketing Mix Decisions and Implementation and Control) is a four-step model used to understand consumers, create customer value and build strong consumer relationships in order to increase brand awareness and gain a competitive edge in the marketplace. Situation analysis involves the thorough analysis of the company’s current situation and identifies opportunities in the industry that satisfies unfulfilled consumer needs. The company analyzes their past, present and future opportunities within the industry and find niches in the marketplace that will enable them to increase their market share. Strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis is one the supportive tools used in analyzing the company itself against the industry in which it operates.
Once the needs of the consumers are discovered, the company will then develop a strategic plan that will outline their target market and position their offerings within a particular segment. The marketing strategy will consist of segmentation, targeting, positioning of the product and a value proposition to the target market. The marketing strategy will enable the company to strategically penetrate the market with their new or rebranded product and/or service that not only satisfies the consumers’ needs, but also aids the company in increasing their awareness throughout the marketplace.
The Marketing mix decisions is the third step in the marketing process. The marketing mix consists of detailed tactical decisions based on the four P’s, Price, Product, Place and Promotion, which describes the different elements of introducing the product or service into the market in order to gain traction in the industry. The final step in the marketing process is implementation and control. In this stage, all planning is complete and the product has been launched. Now the company must monitor the product and how it reacts in the industry, does it meet the needs of the consumer, are customers enjoying the product, or is competition increasing diluting the brand. The company will then adjust the brands positioning in order to adequately satisfy the customer so that the product can be receptive in the environment.
Yet, throughout the marketing process, the company is continuously analyzing the industry and its consumers, ensuring the product that they are developing is in line with customers’ needs. Therefore, marketing in itself is unable to create a need in the industry, since the whole marketing process encompasses the need of the consumer. In any business within the marketplace, companies produce products that consumers want, therefore empowering consumers within the marketplace. Consumers are king of this free-enterprise system, and the market responds to their demands. Consumers have the ability and capability to decide whether they want a product or not. Marketing has no power over the consumer, but can only aid in influencing their decisions by providing their needs.