Companies have been assisting for a few years now to a great amount of changes within the marketplace, partly due to the establishment of the European Market, the mondialisation and the globalisation of the commercial exchanges. Competition has been broadened to the worldwide level and this opening to a wider and more competitive market has led companies to engage a fierce race to gain or retain market shares and to increase the consumption level of their products (Colgate & Danaher, 2000). The use of marketing has become an essential part of the corporate global strategy and it plays an essential role within the firm’s mission and corporate planning activities (Brooksbank et al.
, 1999).It is generally used to assess and to broaden the company’s understanding of its environment (with for example PEST and SWOT analysis) in order to identify its strengths and weaknesses, to build strong relationships with the consumer and to be able to face intense competition to meet the company’s objectives. To resume, marketing is the stronguest tool to adapt the company and its products to the market, to respond quickly and flexibly to the changes in the company’s environment, and its main role is to differentiate its products and to use branding and relationship marketing in order to stay competitive. It is a process that goes further than the simple idea of a simple transaction, because it implies multiple contacts with the consumers, which need to be logical and satisfactory for both parties.The marketing environment is made of 3 main parts that have a big influence on how the company approach its marketing strategy: the macro environment (which includes the economic, political, technological and social factors), the micro environment (consumers, suppliers, stakeholders) and the internal environment.
This is illustrated by the following graph:Source : http://www.marketingteacher.com/Lessons/lesson_marketing_environment.htmIn today’s saturated market, the new challenges are pleasing, and entertaining a long-term relationship with costumers as well as managing information flux.The new goal for companies is to establish a strong relationship with their customers in order to build brand loyalty. To achieve this goal, in addition to satisfy the different needs and expectations of consumers, companies need to build emotional links with them, and it is necessary to know and to understand them. According to Webster ; Frederick (1992), marketing is “responsible for more than the sale, and its responsibilities differ depending on the level of organization and strategy.
It is the management function responsible for making sure that every aspect of the business is focused on delivering superior value to customers in the competitive marketplace” Consumers are more and more difficult to satisfy and they are often even more difficult to attract due to the variety of choices that the marketplace offers.Then marketing is no longer a tool used to increase production and profits, it is used today as a tool to build a good relationship with the consumer and to meet his actual and future needs. It is aimed at buidling long-term relationships rather than short term ones, in order to be able to influence the consumers’ future choices and not only influence them on the moment of purchase to increase sales for a short period of time. The consumer is placed in the center of the company’s interests and by communicating with him, the company places itself in a competitive advantage and tries to “deliver superior value to customers” (Webster ; Frederick, 1992).Lloyds TSB bank for example keeps doing market researches in order to understand its consumers’ needs and to assess their satisfaction of the products and services it offers, in order to understand their expectations and to eventually bring changes to unsatisfying areas of its business and to prevent its consumers to switch to another bank.
It is all about building trust and commitment on both sides. This is defined by Romano & Ratnatunga (1995) and by Webster & Frederick (1992) as “Marketing as a culture”, and it relates to the ablity of an organization to assess market attractiveness (by analysing customer needs and competitive offerings in the marketplace) and potential competitive effectiveness.In order to build and to preserve the image of their brand, companies must understand all the elements that can differentiate their brands from the competitors, and they must put in place an intense and active loyalty relationship, which would allow consumers to find their place in the marketplace. Once they achieved to understand, they must communicate their understanding by puting in place actions.
Another role of marketing is to maintain the company to a good competitive level by differentiating its products and by positioning itself. Marketing as strategy is the emphasis at the SBU level, where the focus is on market segmentation, targeting, and positioning in defining how the firm is to compete in its chosen businesses. (Webster & Frederick, 1992) By creating a value and an image to the company’s product or even to the company itself, it helps to reflect the consumers’ needs and expectations. Marketing helps companies to assess the consumers needs and then to establish a strategy that will help them staying competitive and the highest the competition is, the more agressive will be the actions taken by firms in order to reach their sales targets.Then the companies must effectively assess the market characteristics (by defining potential consumers, their habits, and competitors’ strategies for exemple) and then from this knowledge they can select the segment they want to target and adapt their own marketing strategy to this chosen segment. According to Webster ; Frederick (1992) quoting Hills and La Forge, market segmentation is the process of dividing the total market for a product or service into groups with similar needs that respond to a specific market strategy.The focus is put on how the firm is going to be able to compete in the business it has decided to do by setting a marketing strategy and keeping itself up to date with the market changes, as well as analysing how it wants to be perceived by its consumers compared to the competitors. The new marketing trend that places the consumer in the centre of the companies’ priorities also changes the branding policies, which is still the biggest asset of the company confronted to the changes of its environment.
If the branding ensure the brand of being competitive in the long term, it is because it generates cash-flows and because it facilitates the conquer of new consumers, and the building of brand loyalty. All of this helps adding value to the company.Finally the marketing role could be approached as a tactic, by managing daily the marketing mix components as well as the relationship with customers and resellers.
According to Moorman & Rust (1999), in the traditional domain of marketing (the domain of the 4Ps) marketing often is perceived as developing a product that will suit the customer, promoting the product to the customer, pricing the product to be acceptable to the customer, and distributing the product to the customer. Once again we can see that the consumer is at the centre of the companies’ worries and objectives.To conclude, recent studies, such as Ganesan et al.’s “Role of Marketing in the Corporation: A Perpetual Work in Progress” (2004) highlight the fact that companies are evolving in a constantly changing environment. The use of new technologies, the competitors’ innovations and other factors point out the fact that there is a constant need to evolve with the environment and to adapt it as it changes.
Therefore it is primordial to keep changing their marketing strategies and to keep themselves up to date with the new trends of the market in order to stay competitive.The role of marketing is to influence the market in order to satisfy the consumers and to build their loyalty in order to increase profitability, but as history already saw with the evolution from the product-centred marketing to the consumer-centred marketing, this might change in the future and new data could come and change the game again. As Webster ; Frederick underlined, marketing has always been changeable, both in its conceptual and academic aspects and in its management and organization within firms. They also argue that any change in the firm or in its market environment inevitably have an impact on marketing and on the influence of marketing within the firm.
“As the internal and external environment change, so must marketing.” (1992)