A. Marketing merely reflects the needs and wants of customers. B. Marketing shapes consumer needs and wants.
‘Marketing merely reflects the needs and wants of customers.’ We all need to eat, drink and sleep and reproduce, this is all part of who we are as human beings. Therefore at the basic level companies will strive to satisfy these functions and keep doing so by once in a while showing advertisements that tells the public that they are around and can provide the products they need.
The other aspect is that needs vary depending on what country you live in. “For example a consumer in the United States may need food but may want a hamburger, french fries and a soft drink and a person that lives in Mauritius that needs food may want a mango, rice, lentils and beans. Wants are shaped by our society.” The other part is wants, everybody can want something but only a few has the means to acquire it. A good example would be that everyone wants to eat out at expensive restaurants everyday but in reality only very few people can actually afford that lifestyle. This is why various segments have been created to target different groups and classes of people.
Marketers must therefore continually be creating and developing attractive products and then in turn devising a brilliant marketing strategy to win the consumer over to buy their product over other competing products. Companies strive to retain their customer base by delivering value and satisfaction from their products and this is formulated in consumers’ minds as a combination of service, quality and price. Some consumers would not mind paying a higher price for an item or service if they received very good service.
This is all part of what a consumer’s expectations on a product are, if these perceived expectations are met time after time then they become a loyal customer to that particular company. We as people like consistency and if a marketer provides consistent service in addition to great products and price then we will keep on going back for years. A good example would be Ben’s Chili Bowl located in Washington DC. It is an eatery that has been in business for decades and the fact that it had kept so many loyal customers is because they have offered consistent service and great food over the years and people who used to go there to eat as kids still go there as adults. They even have patrons fly into Washington DC just to experience their food and service. Companies also create brands and these brands have an effect on people’s purchasing habits.
These brands can mean several aspects of the company combined to form a perception in the consumer’s mind such as products, services, information and experiences. The more unique and interesting a brand the better it will perform. One brand that comes to mind is the Coach Company that manufactures accessories in the retail sector. They produce items such as handbags, purses, belts and other items. Coach has built a strong brand name for themselves by being unique in their style and service and this is primarily the reason that customers create a high demand for their products. This has also allowed the company to maintain an above average price for their products compared with their competitors with the knowledge that consumers would pay that higher price. Segmentation is another way that companies target the consumer to satisfy their needs and companies use this technique to target where they should market their products. There are various criteria that companies use to segment their products and some of them are geographic, demographic, psycho graphic and behavioral.
They would use factors such as how populated and area is or how wealthy the population of a specific area is and target products that fit that mold. This has proved to be a very successful tactic for companies in marketing. Marketing channels are also used by companies to reach their consumers. They use three types of marketing channels which are communications, distribution and service channels. Communications is important to get the company’s message out to the public and this could be in many forms such as the radio, television, the internet, posters and the like. They also need to distribute their products to the consumer and this means they will need a physical location like a store, or be a wholesaler and have others retail your products for you and also sell your products on the internet. Service channels are needed to effect transactions with the consumers and these could be banks for credit card purchases and transportation companies such as UPS to deliver the products to homes and businesses.
Marketing has relied on four marketing skills and tools and they are the sales force, advertising, sales promotion and marketing research, they must also use brand building, customer relations, telemarketing and others to make their product selling become reality. Companies must also function ethically and honestly to serve the consumer in the best possible manner. Marketing in the United States is unique in the world because it has evolved and changed over the years to blend in with the capitalistic society we live in in the US. This also means that some of the marketing we use in this country can only work with the credit system we currently have. This is not so in other parts of the world even in industrialized countries. So I would view marketing in the United States as one of the spokes in the wheel that makes our economy such a giant as it is today.
Regarding the second argument ‘Marketing shapes consumer needs and wants.’ I have to also agree with this statement. My reasons are many and varied. After seeing so many television commercials and advertisements both on the Internet and on newspapers I have concluded that some companies construct their ads to create a need in the consumer’s mind even if originally they were not interested in the product. I took some time to research some of the words that advertisements commonly use and I found an interesting mix of words and phrases. The word ‘free’ is the most common denominator I found in the ads, free is used in combinations such as free home trial, free inspection, buy one get one free, free installation, free estimates, free parking, free demonstration and free consultation. The word free is usually a powerful catalyst that springs the consumer into buying that particular product or idea even though he or she might not need it. I think other terms also kind of bait people into buying things they don’t need.
Terms such as ‘no payments till 2010’ or ‘money back guarantee’ ‘no down payment’ ‘offer good while supplies last’ help dissipate any doubts that the consumer may have and spur them on to make the purchase. “Because the goal is to get customers’ attention, persuade and create demand, market segmentation has historically been based on variables that correlate to creating demand: geography, age, gender, income, education, occupation and other traditional demographics, as well as psychographics around personality, lifestyle, values and attitudes. It works because these attributes are helpful for defining how to effectively speak to different groups of people.”
Some companies do act unethical in their advertising, for example I have seen some ads on the internet especially where companies would advertise a product and make it very appealing to the consumer then at the very bottom is tiny fonts the word ‘restrictions apply’ they would hide the link that takes you to where the restrictions are listed. So if you happen to buy that product without reading the fine print and something happens that you are not satisfied or want to return the item the company would refuse and make reference to their restriction policy. Other tactics that companies use to shape consumers needs and wants is to use celebrities or other famous people to sell their products. A good example of a company would be Nike. Nike teamed up with Michael Jordan to create marketing giant. One of the themes behind their partnership was to create the desire within consumers that if they wore Michael Jordan’s sneakers they could play basketball or jump as high as him.
This was directed primarily towards the younger consumers and turned out to be a huge marketing success. Companies also take advantage of world events or changes in the economy to come out with new products. A good example is the ever increasing popularity of hybrid cars. This has been brought about by gas prices going up and the economy slowing down. However the increase in hybrid cars has led to a marked decrease of large SUV vehicles. In the past we used to associate hybrid cars with car companies such as Toyota and Honda, but nowadays companies such as Lincoln, Ford and others are coming out with hybrid vehicles. This has been a necessity of them to compete in today’s changed car market.
However advertising is not the only force that drives the consumer. Most companies do a lot of research before releasing an advertisement in getting a feel of what the consumers really desire. There is a constant interaction with the public in studying what is in vogue at the time and also what brands people want to be associated with. I have always wondered at why companies come out with new models or new releases at such a quick pace. This tactic is basically mainly a tweak or an enhancement of the previous model or version in order to create the perception of a totally new product which in turn creates more demand for the product.
Good examples of these products would be software, Microsoft is especially good at coming out with new versions of their products. For example with the release of Microsoft Vista operating system it meant that people had to upgrade their computers also because their existing hardware could not support Microsoft Vista’s requirements. In conclusion, newer firms tend to lean more towards creating needs because the public does not yet know about their products. Established companies are more interested in fulfilling the existing needs of consumers. These companies are already known and their products have already being deemed essential to their lives so they would continue buying their products even with little or no advertisement.