HA- 400





Source:  Kotler, Philip. (2000) Marketing Management. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.






Company Orientations to the Marketplace


What philosophy should guide a company marketing and selling efforts?  What relative weights should be given to the interests of the organization, the customers, and society?  These interest often clash, however, an organization’s marketing and selling activities should be carried out under a well-thought-out philosophy of efficiency, effectiveness, and socially responsibility.


Five orientations (philosophical concepts to the marketplace have guided and continue to guide organizational activities:


1.         The Production Concept

2.         The Product Concept

3.         The Selling Concept

4.         The Marketing Concept

5.         The Societal Marketing Concept


The Five Concepts Described


            The Production Concept. This concept is the oldest of the concepts in business.  It holds that consumers will prefer products that are widely available and inexpensive.  Managers focusing on this concept concentrate on achieving high production efficiency, low costs, and mass distribution.  They assume that consumers are primarily interested in product availability and low prices.  This orientation makes sense in developing countries, where consumers are more interested in obtaining the product than in its features.


            The Product Concept. This orientation holds that consumers will favor those products that offer the most quality, performance, or innovative features.  Managers focusing on this concept concentrate on making superior products and improving them over time. They assume that buyers admire well-made products and can appraise quality and performance.  However, these managers are sometimes caught up in a love affair with their product and do not realize what the market needs.  Management might commit the “better-mousetrap” fallacy, believing that a better mousetrap will lead people to beat a path to its door. 


            The Selling Concept. This is another common business orientation. It holds that consumers and businesses, if left alone, will ordinarily not buy enough of the selling company’s products.  The organization must, therefore, undertake an aggressive selling and promotion effort.  This concept assumes that consumers typically sho9w buyi8ng inertia or resistance and must be coaxed into buying.  It also assumes that the company has a whole battery of effective selling and promotional tools to stimulate more buying. Most firms practice the selling concept when they have overcapacity.  Their aim is to sell what they make rather than make what the market wants.


            The Marketing Concept.  This is a business philosophy that challenges the above three business orientations.  Its central tenets crystallized in the 1950s.  It holds that the key to achieving its organizational goals (goals of the selling company) consists of the company being more effective than competitors in creating, delivering, and communicating customer value to its selected target customers. The marketing concept rests on four pillars:  target market, customer needs, integrated marketing and profitability.


            Distinctions between the Sales Concept and the Marketing Concept:


1.         The Sales Concept focuses on the needs of the seller.  The Marketing Concept focuses on the needs of the buyer. 


2.         The Sales Concept is preoccupied with the seller’s need to convert his/her product into cash.  The Marketing Concept is preoccupied with the idea of satisfying the needs of the customer by means of the product as a solution to the customer’s problem (needs).


            The Marketing Concept represents the major change in today’s company orientation that provides the foundation to achieve competitive advantage.  This philosophy is the foundation of consultative selling. 


            The Marketing Concept has evolved into a fifth and more refined company orientation:  The Societal Marketing Concept. This concept is more theoretical and will undoubtedly influence future forms of marketing and selling approaches.


            The Societal Marketing Concept. This concept holds that the organization’s task is to determine the needs, wants, and interests of target markets and to deliver the desired satisfactions more effectively and efficiently than competitors (this is the original Marketing Concept).  Additionally, it holds that this all must be done in a way that preserves or enhances the consumer’s and the society’s well-being.


            This orientation arose as some questioned whether the Marketing Concept is an appropriate philosophy in an age of environmental deterioration, resource shortages, explosive population growth, world hunger and poverty, and neglected social services. 

Are companies that do an excellent job of satisfying consumer wants necessarily acting in the best long-run interests of consumers and society?   


            The marketing concept possibily sidesteps the potential conflicts among consumer wants, consumer interests, and long-run societal welfare. Just consider:

The fast-food hamburger industry offers tasty buty unhealthy food. The hamburgers have a high fat content, and the restaurants promote fries and pies, two products high in starch and fat.  The products are wrapped in convenient packaging, which leads to much waste.  In satisfying consumer wants, these restaurants may be hurting consumer health and causing environmental problems.


What do you think?