Approaches to the Study of Marketing

Today, we will examine various approaches in the study of marketing. Each discipline has its own approach-in terms of the modus operandi for studying it and marketing is not an exemption.

These approaches are crucial to the work of marketing executives. A good understanding of them determines the way to apply them when the need arises. It is the fundamental guide that underlies marketing activities. Thus, they are regarded as the building blocks for achieving company objectives and goals.

Major Approaches in Study of Marketing

Approaches to the Study of Marketing

Any phenomenon can be studied from several points of view. This is very true of marketing. The following approaches have been prominent in the history of marketing.

1) Commodity Approach

The commodity approach focuses on particular commodities and classes of products, to determine how they are produced and distributed to intermediate and ultimate consumers.

The major product classes studied are farm products, minerals, manufactured goods and services. The focus of this study is on classes of products; these include consumer and industrial products. It is pertinent to study these classes of products due to simple fact that consumers’ needs vary from one product to another.

Let us, briefly, see example these classes.

  • Consumer goods – these are goods bought by final consumers for personal consumption. Marketers, usually, classify these goods based on shopping habits of consumers. Consumer goods include convenience goods, specialty goods, and unsought goods.
  • Industrial goods – these are bought by individuals and organizations for further processing or for use in conducting a business. The industrial goods can be classified according to how they enter the production process and according to their cost. There are three groups, namely- materials and parts, capital items, and supplies and services.

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The distinction between a consumer good and an industrial good is based on the purpose for which the product is purchased. Thus, marketers are interested in the purpose for which these goods are bought. This formed the bases of their production.

2) Institutional Approach

The institutional approach focuses on the nature, evolution, and functions of particular institutions and various facilitating agencies. For example, an institution, at least, may study an institution such as a departmental store to determine how it has evolved over the years and where it seems to be heading to.

Just as products consumed by consumers vary from one person to another, the needs of institutions are not the same as well. For example, an educational institution is different from an advertising agency.

Therefore, it is pertinent for marketers to study the needs of individual institutions as a means of understanding and providing appropriate products and services.

3) Functional Approach

The functional approach focuses on the nature and dynamics of various marketing functions, such as buying, selling, storing, financing, and promoting.

A functionalist studies how these functions are carried on in various product markets and by various marketing institutions. It is only when these functions are appreciated and critically studied that consumers can be satisfied.

4) Managerial Approach

The managerial approach focuses on the use of marketing in successfully positioning organizations and products in the market place. Managerial marketers are, particularly interested in marketing analysis, planning, organization, implementation, and control.

These are managerial roles that must be, critically, studied and carried out; otherwise the aims of satisfying consumers would be defeated. For example, many companies operate without formal plans.

In new companies, managers are sometimes so busy they have no time for planning. In small companies, managers sometimes think that only large corporations needs formal planning.

In mature companies, many managers argue that they have done well without formal planning, and that therefore it cannot be too important. They may resist taking the time to prepare a written plan.
They may argue that the marketplace changes too fast for a plan to be useful. These are some of the opinions of marketing executives.

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However, it should be noted that we are operating in a dynamic environment. Thus, marketing activities must be properly articulated and planned; otherwise the efforts put in will be futile.

This is narrowed down to having company mission, objectives and goals. The approach to adopt determines the success of the company’s products and services. For example, in a particular market, different approaches may be needed for various classes of consumers.

For instance, looking at baby products, household utensils, unsought goods etc., these are different classes of consumers that require different level of satisfaction. Thus, managerial approach is top management task that must be planned and executed, appropriately.

This is the main reason why modern marketing activity exerts effort to either remain on top or acquire other competitor’s market shares. Thus, as a marketing executive, you must define your mission, objectives, goals, target consumers and markets, properly. Your ability to have these as part of your strategic plan determines your success or failure.

5) Social Approach

The social approach focuses on the social contributions and costs created by various marketing activities and institutions. This approach addresses such issues as market efficiency, product obsolescence, advertising truthfulness, and the ecological impact of marketing.

The social approach is inevitable in our modern society. The waste products (of our companies), environmental degradation, chemical pollution, indispensable waste, etc., are critical areas of modern management.

This is the reason why modern managements/companies (particularly, the oil companies in the Niger-Delta belt of Nigeria for instance) are called upon to partner with host communities to reduce unpleasant incidents and such vices associated with the growth of cities and towns such as Lagos, Abuja, Kano, and Port-Harcourt.

In summary, the study of marketing approaches is considered the cornerstone of marketing activities. It is a fundamental medium through which consumers’ needs are met.

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