Consumer-centric culture; this is the era we live in now. Our customers can either be our greatest advocates or our worst opposition. If this is the case, why even bother marketing?
The only thing constant is change. This we all know. With change comes adjustments. Changes in how people and businesses behave does require new developments in how marketing is done. Let us not though, loose sight of the fundamental purpose and “why” of marketing. In my opinion, one of the best definitions of marketing is by Peter Drucker:
“The aim of marketing is to understand your customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.”
We will break the above definition into three different parts:
- Understand your customer so well.
To gain a “so well” understanding of customers means the role of marketing is to research and gain deep as well as profound insights into buyers and customers.
2. The product or service fits.
A guiding purpose of marketing is to identify the specific goals and needs of customers and to guide the creation of products or services to fulfill them.
3. And sells itself.
Marketing must be able to communicate as well as provide information, which enables buyers or customers to make informed decisions in such a way – it is self-evident.
Motivation behind the consumer.
Marketing has changed over the centuries, decades and years. The change has been systemic which has led to new cultures being adopted in the business world.
The first phase of marketing was the production orientation era . The mantra behind this era was affordability and availability. This is what marketers believed their consumers wanted. Advertising meant, “Promoting products with a lesser quality”.
The second phase of marketing was product orientation era. The attitude behind this era was that consumers preferred products that offered the most quality, performance and innovative features. The mantra then changed to “A good product will sell itself” hence no need for advertisement.
The third era was sales orientation era. This is the era that led to a rise in advertisements. Consumers will buy products only if the company promotes/ sells these products. Creative advertising and selling was used to slowly overcome consumers’ resistance.
The fourth era was marketing orientation era. This era focused on the needs and wants of the consumers. “Consumer is king” became the new mantra for marketers. The approach was shifted to delivering satisfaction better than competitors were.
Relationship Marketing Orientation Era-This is the modern approach of marketing. Today’s marketer focuses on needs/ wants of target markets and aims at delivering superior value. The mantra of a successful marketer is ‘ Long-term relationships with customers and other partners lead to successes.
And today, we will focus on the needs and wants of our target markets.
In order to fully focus on your target audience, as a marketer, you need to fully understand your target audience. This means understanding them not just from external aspects such as age, location, demographics etc but to know them from their psychological point of view.
This means that you have to learn their pre & post purchase behavior. Knowing your consumers’ purchasing power is crucial at this level.
Purchasing power is the capacity of an individual to buy certain quantities of goods and services. When a customer has a high purchasing power it basically means that they have a higher income and purchasing power relative to the supply and prices of goods available.
This is very important as you need to ensure that consumers can pay for your goods/services at a certain margin in order to make a profit.
Once you have an understanding of the purchasing power, you can then think of how your marketing campaigns can be adapted and improved to more effectively influence the consumer.
This goes hand-in-hand with pre-purchase behavior. Consumers use different metrics when it comes to making a decision on their purchase. This is what I like to call the view. There are 4 different views that a consumer can use;
Economic view- The consumer has all the information, is aware of the alternative products. The consumer also ranks products as per their benefits and then proceeds to choose that which will suit them.
Passive view- In this instance, the consumer is impulsive and irrational while making a purchase.
Cognitive view- Helps the consumer focus on the processes through which they get information about selected brands. They sift through the pros and cons.
Emotional view- This view is associated with deep feelings. This mostly happens when a consumer has an emotional attachment to the brand/product.
In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs we get to see 5 levels of human needs.
- Physiological Needs − Food, clothing, air, and shelter are the first level needs. They are known as the basic necessities or primary needs.
- Safety or Security Needs − Once the first level needs are satisfied, consumers move to the next level. Physical safety, security, stability and protection are the security needs.
- Social Needs − After the safety needs are satisfied, consumers expect friendship, belonging, attachment. They need to maintain themselves in a society and try to be accepted.
- Esteem Needs − Then comes esteem needs such as self-esteem, status, prestige. Individuals here in this stage want to rise above the general level as compared to others to achieve mental satisfaction.
- Self-Actualization − This is the highest stage of the hierarchy. People here, try to excel in their field and improve their level of achievement. They are known as self-actualizers.
Marketers have to understand the motives of their potential customers to enjoy good sales. A consumer has several motives and each change with various elements.
Marketing strategies and tactics are normally based on explicit and implicit beliefs about consumer behavior. Knowledge of consumer behavior can be an important competitive advantage while formulating marketing strategies. It can greatly reduce the odds of bad decisions and market failures.