Marketing is a human activity. The origin of marketing is as old as humanity. During primitive and ancient times, individuals or families exchanged the agricultural products they had for those they did not have. As society developed, designated objects such as seashells, beads, feathers, etc. They were used in exchange for goods and services. Marketing as a subject of study and discipline has gone through some levels of evolutionary changes in its meaning, understanding and scope. These changes are the product of the shift from a primitive, subsistence economy to a market-driven economy.
Marketing is defined differently by various writers. One of the earliest definitions was given by the American Marketing Association (AMA) in 1960. The association defined marketing as “the performance of business activity that directs the flow of goods and services to the customer or end user.” This definition has become obsolete. This is because it is no longer consistent with the contemporary dynamics of marketing. Marketing is more than the distribution of goods and services.
Subsequently, some definitions were attempted that captured the meaning of marketing and new perspectives are emerging. Let’s see some of them:
1. The British Chartered Institute of Marketing defined marketing as “the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably and efficiently”
2. The British Marketing Institute defined marketing as “the creative management function, which promotes trade and employment by assessing consumer needs and initiating research and development to meet them.”
3. Kotler (1997:9) defined marketing as “a social and managerial process by which individuals and groups obtain what they need or want by creating, offering, and exchanging products of value with others”
4. Nickels et al (1999: 379) described marketing as “the process of determining customer needs and wants and then providing customers with goods and services that meet or exceed their expectations.”
The content analysis of the last four definitions shows that there are central concepts, which are common among them. The concepts are needs, wants, demands, products, value, satisfaction, exchange, market, and marketers.
Modern marketing requires marketers to analyze the needs and requirements of customers. The goods, services and ideas thus produced are aimed at satisfying the company’s customers and creating value. The definitions also show that marketing comes into play long before goods and services begin to flow from the producer to the customers. This is because it is marketing that conceives or anticipates the needs or desires, which are the antecedents of production. Today’s marketing is not just the domain of business activities; Nonprofit organizations are beginning to appreciate the importance of marketing in rapidly changing business environments. Therefore, marketing is ubiquitous and used by schools, churches and mosques, public services, industries, the military, etc. to elicit the desired responses from the target audience.
Fifield (1993:1) described marketing from a completely different perspective. He conceived of marketing as having four distinct but interrelated aspects. The four aspects are:
(1) a mental attitude,
(2) a way of organizing the business,
(3) a range of activities and
(4) the profit producer.
An attitude of mind: as a lifestyle marketing concept
How to organize the business: structure and adapt the organization to meet the needs and desires of customers.
Marketing, in a nutshell, is a social and administrative function that aims to satisfy human needs and desires through the exchange of goods and services by individuals and/or institutions for profit.
Exchange processes and gaps.
For the exchange transaction to be completed, the two parties must exchange something of value. A successful exchange process can be hindered by the presence of gaps or separations between the parties or producers and consumers of goods, services and ideas.
Cox et al (1964:56) gave five major gaps. These are:
1. Spatial separation: Producers and buyers are often geographically separated. That is, the goods are produced in one geographic area but distributed in different geographic areas. These goods while they remain with the producers are separated from the consumers by geographical distance.
2. Temporary separation: The parties to a potential exchange are generally unable to complete and exchange at the time the products are produced. The product must be available to consumers.
3. Perceptual Separation: The two parties to the exchange may not be aware of or interested in the other’s offer.
4. Separation of property: initially the property is ancillary to the producer. The marketing system facilitates the transfer of ownership from the producer to the consumer.
5. Separation of values: Producer and consumers give different values to a product.