Marketing reflections on learning outcomes

MRK 106 FQ                        VALERI OPARYCHEV



The purpose of this case study  is  to  present  a  brief  overview  of  the
marketing study outcomes and personal interpretation of the  key  points  of
marketing theory covered in this course. The interpretation  will  be  aimed
at emphasizing the practical importance of marketing today.

The idea of marketing must have existed for  many  centuries.  Yet,  at  the
beginning it probably was not  so  sophisticated  theory  as  it  is  today.
Because  of  the  globalization  and  rapid   development   of   information
technologies people, or market participants, have been urged to  systematize
their market experience into a  well-organized  theory.  In  our  course  of
study the marketing has been defined by the term that sounds more  specific:
«an approach to business focusing on satisfying customer needs  and  wants».
To serve its key purpose, the marketing strives to find an  answer  to  such
questions as why customers do not or, conversely, do  readily  buy  products
offered by the sellers, who the ideal buyers are, and what  should  be  done
to have the buyers buy what the sellers offer. In fact, the  terms  «buyers»
and «sellers» are not absolutely accurate as applied  to  marketing.  To  be
more accurate, the marketing approach implies that the  business  activities
are centered on customer, because the concept of business  here  means  both
profit and non-profit organizations. So, the words «buy» and «products»,  or
«services», can be identified as  the  key  terms  reflecting  the  idea  of
marketing. It should also be noted  that  the  words  «buy»  and  «services»
represent a wide range of services, non-profit activities, and behavior.

The key points of marketing concept are customer satisfaction,  profit,  and
properly organized efforts to make profit through customer satisfaction.  At
the same time, strategically, it is important to understand that a  business
can be profitable, or  successful,  only  if  it  finds  a  way  to  satisfy
customers better than its competitors. This  means,  that  today's  business
can attract customers only through successful competition.  Because  of  the
highly competitive environment, today it is not enough just to satisfy.  The
important thing is to be better. In other words, if a business is unable  to
compete, it fails to implement the key marketing ideas simply  because  such
business will fail to satisfy customers.  Moreover,  under  the  competitive
environment it becomes important not only to meet, but also  to  exceed  the
customers' needs. In an organization, the role of marketing concept is  more
profound: here the marketing concept  implies  that  everyone's  job  is  to
serve the customers directly, or to serve those  who  serve  the  customers.
For example, to contribute to profit  through  saving  costs  or,  in  other
words, to serve the internal customers. This idea  is  especially  important
to emphasize in terms of the roles we may play in  an  organization  in  our
day-to-day life: we do not necessarily have to deal with customers  directly
to contribute to the common goal of customer satisfaction. But our roles  in
it can be significant without doing so.

The key components here are target market (a group of customers to  satisfy)
and product mix (product, price, place, and promotion). In real life,  these
components boil down to the  following  objective  all  businesses  need  to
fulfill: to increase the number of customers so as  to  increase  sales.  To
achieve this goal, the marketing strategy should give us tips on how  to  do
that. In every particular situation we face in day-to-day life  we  have  to
find answers to specific questions.  For  example,  to  sell  an  accounting
service like filing a personal income tax return we would need to  determine
what has to be done to attract customers  (Product),  what  kind  of  office
would be needed to deliver the service (Place), how much it would  cost  and
what price would be right (Price), and what should be done to  attract  more
customers (Promotion). It is easy to see that this pattern would have to  be
followed in every real-life situation. Even looking for a job we would  have
to be concerned with where we can work (Place), what we  can  do  (Product),
at what remuneration (Price), and how to attract employer's attention to  be
employed  (Promotion).  And  in  every  case  we  would  look  for  specific
customers who need to have their income tax  return  filed  and  a  specific
employer who employees specifically like we are  (Target  market).  So,  one
way or the other, the marketing strategy will  work  for  our  purpose.  The
question is just how  to  identify  its  components  in  specific  terms  as
applied to every specific objective.

Unlike  the  4P’s  of  marketing  that  can  be  controlled  by   us,   some
environments are uncontrollable by nature, because we just  have  no  chance
to influence them.  They  may  include,  for  example,  cultural,  economic,
legal, political, technological, and social environments.  This  should  not
mean, however, that we should let them control us without any  response.  To
succeed, businesses have to re-adjust themselves and find the best  ways  to
work in them. The important point is that we need not  only  identify  them,
but also try to see  if  there  are  new  opportunities.  For  example,  the
changing demographics inside our country should make us look around  to  see
how  to  readjust  our  products  and  services  to  different  tastes   and
preferences. Internationally, we should  always  be  aware  of  tariffs  and
quotas and estimate our  competitive  potential.  Watching  the  changes  we
develop possible scenarios,  make  relevant  decisions,  and  get  ready  to
implement them. What can  be  the  consequences  of  the  war  in  Iraq  for
marketing decisions? Tremendous, to say the least of it. So there are a  lot
of things for marketing specialists to think  of  both  internationally  and

The supply, demand,  and  elasticity  have  a  direct  impact  on  marketing
decisions. The low demand may point to the necessity  for  better  promotion
of products and services simply because the consumers may turn out  to  know
too little about the product, or be unaware of it at  all.  There  would  be
little wonder if our specific product is not  in  demand,  even  though  our
competitors sell the same one very successfully. What if  we  fail  to  sell
fresh water in hot summer time? Such paradox is quite possible if we do  not
follow simple marketing principle of 4 Ps. In  terms  of  marketing,  demand
should not be viewed as something static. Even as applied  to  fundamentally
new products, it can be created through marketing decisions. To say  nothing
of basic needs like fresh water in hot summer. We just have to  remember  of
4 Ps. The idea of supply in marketing is especially important  in  terms  of
competition:  if  we  fail  to  provide  supply  that  meets   demand,   our
competitors will do it for us fast enough to their own advantage.  The  idea
of demand elasticity is also important in terms of marketing decisions.  For
example, inelastic demand for a product  usually  results  from  a  lack  of
substitutes.  For  this  reason,  marketing  decisions  might  be  aimed  at
identifying or creating a new product or service to substitute for  the  one
with inelastic demand.

In simple terms, the idea of market segmentation (naming and segmenting)  is
how not to lose the focus. For  this  purpose,  identifying  most  promising
consumers is really a critical part of marketing activities. Would it  be  a
reasonable decision for us to  try  selling  air  conditioners  in  Northern
Territories and snow-removing equipment in South California? Hopefully  not.
The  idea  of  positioning  is  also  important  in  terms   of   consumers'
psychology. With the diversity of products today, it  becomes  important  to
be able to have a proper understanding of consumer’s needs and attitude,  to
see what and why they  need  and  how  their  needs  are  satisfied  by  the
existing market.

The idea of consumer  product  classifications  is  important  in  terms  of
understanding how they think of them and what can be the motivation  to  buy
them. This understanding is really critical,  because  to  project  our  own
perceptions on what we want to sell should be the last thing  to  do.  Since
the human nature is really a complicated thing,  therefore  the  accumulated
knowledge and observations made by the marketing scientists  can  be  really
helpful in making decisions. This may apply to  certain  particular  classes
of consumers' products like convenience, shopping, specialty,  and  unsought
products. The useful thing to realize is that in selling a specific  product
or service we need to take into account specific qualities  they  offer,  in
terms of both material and psychological implications. Branding is  also  an
important factor in marketing decisions. The idea  of  branding  is  to  win
wider and steadier recognition, though  in  real  life  a  brand  would  not
necessarily ensure a desired quality. Yet it works  and,  therefore,  should
be taken into account for competitive considerations. One of  the  important
real life implications here is that to sell a branded product we would  have
to think well of what kind of  advantages  might  contrast  our  product  or
service against the competitor’s one. The product life cycle  is  especially
important to in terms of planning of our marketing activities. For  example,
when dealing with a new product on the market it is important  to  be  aware
of the main stages of product’s life. The low sales at the introduction  and
market growth stages would affect our  marketing  decisions  in  many  ways,
specifically in terms of promotion approaches, pricing  policies,  scale  of
production, financing, risk taking, etc.

Intermediaries,  as  an  indirect  channel  of  distribution,  play  a  very
important  role  in  selling,  which  is  one  of  most  critical  marketing
functions. In real life it could hardly be  possible  to  properly  identify
and effectively use all channels  of  distribution  as  they  may  represent
quite complex ramifications of different channels. For example, for a  small
or medium-size production company it just might not be affordable to keep  a
large enough marketing department to deal  with  all  problems  of  products
distribution.  Therefore,  the   services   of   intermediaries   could   be
indispensable, even though they may take extra  costs.  Intermediaries  help
us  cover  larger  market  sectors.  On  the  other  hand,  the   value   of
intermediaries consists in their practical experience  in  trading.  If  our
business is focused on production,  we  may  need  to  concentrate  more  on
production problems rather than trading, otherwise we  lose  the  focus  and
there is always price to be paid for it. So the use of intermediaries  might
pay back.

Integrated marketing communications may be defined  as  what  we  manage  to
achieve through all our efforts to promote a product or service.  In  simple
terms, it might look  like  our  ability  to  work  out  the  right  way  to
influence consumers using our communications skills. The practical  approach
(defined in theory as AIDA = Attention + Interest + Desire +  Action)  could
be basically described as a complex process of informing and persuading.  In
other words, we need to design our  messages  to  influence  the  consumers’
perception about our products. The importance of this ability in  real  life
can hardly be overestimated. In  today’s  world  of  tough  competition  the
communication process should be viewed as one of key  elements  of  success.
Life is full of practical examples of how the effective  communication  just
works  wonders.  In  a  literal  sense,  the  power  of  word  can  just  be
materialized. A dentist would not attract many  clients  without  sending  a
specific message saying that he or she can do a  good  job,  and  accountant
would not attract many customers and would not  be  employed  by  a  company
without convincing them he is a good specialist.

The important thing the marketing theory makes us understand  about  pricing
is that it should not be viewed just as adding up the values  of  costs  and
markups guided by supply and demand. Such an approach  would  be  incomplete
to reflect the reality. The process, in real life,  is  much  more  complex.
The real economic life makes us set various objectives and choose  different
policies. Reasons and objectives may be numerous. To win more  customers  we
may need first to give them a chance  to  use  our  products  at  affordable
prices to see, for example, that our product is in  no  way  inferior  to  a
similar branded one, or simply to increase sales. A lawyer or an  accountant
beginning a new business might choose to work harder  at  comparatively  low
prices for their services with an objective  to  gain  more  popularity  and
recognition.  Or,  besides  competitive  reasons  there  can  be   different
motivations, such as survival. A monopoly  may  set  prices  without  caring
much about how it affects consumers’ interests because of  inelastic  demand
for its products: in such a case  a  monopoly  is  just  not  interested  in
working harder, because the inelastic demand would  reduce  its  efforts  to
zero. In other words, the economic reality  requires  us  to  be  especially
aware of the problem of pricing. Too many factors  have  to  be  taken  into
consideration, and, therefore,  a  very  good  understanding  is  needed  to
choose the right policies.

The most important conclusion regarding my learning outcomes in this  course
of study might be summarized as follows:  the  complex  reality  of  today's
economic life requires a comprehensive knowledge and profound  understanding
of the marketing theory. The great variety of specific  marketing  decisions
the businesses have to make in day-to-day life always  relies  not  only  on
our specific accumulated experience and skills, but  also  on  our  learning
process  and  ability  to  filter  and  make  use  of   specific   marketing
information in every particular case, be it a small  family  business  or  a
large corporation.