Marketing Report Essay

Marketing is marketing, irrespective of the product or marketplace. This is a theme common to many introductory marketing texts and degree courses. The two most common exceptions cited to this proposition are buying behavior models between consumers and business buyers and the extended ingredients of the services marketing mix. While the overall sentiments of marketing hold true across product and market boundaries, perhaps the differences are in fact more marked? Intends to spark some discussion pertaining to the extent to which marketers can safely generalize when discussing the nature and characteristics of marketing.

Are we correct in offering students and in-company training program generalizations that cut across the marketing domain? Are we doing justice to the core nuances if we simply draw out the variations between consumer goods, services, industrial and business-to-business marketing? Is there a different perspective that should, in the new millennium, be the focus of textbooks and marketing courses?

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Marketing is marketing, irrespective of the product or marketplace.

This is a theme common to many introductory marketing texts and courses. The two most common exceptions cited to this proposition are buying behavior models between consumers and business buyers and the extended ingredients of the services marketing mix (cf. Dibb et al., 1997; Kotler, 1998). While the overall sentiments of marketing hold true across product and market boundaries, perhaps the differences are in fact more marked?

The marketers of services were the first to speak out, arguing that the nature of marketing is different owing to the basic characteristics of services:

+ intangibility;

+ direct organization-client relationship;

+ consumer participation in the production process; and

+ Complexity.

The upshot for services marketers has been the extension of the marketing mix from the classical product, price, place (channel) and promotion 4Ps to include at least people, physical evidence (ambience) and process. These marketers also point to the characteristics of services, notably intangibility of the service product, restricting opportunities for creating a differential advantage over competitors, with the inevitable dependence for differentiation and competitive edge on branding initiatives and personnel.

While services marketers have outlined significant differences for their marketing, on the whole, texts and marketers have argued there are relatively only minor differences between the marketing of consumer goods and industrial or business-to-business goods. This paper is intended to spark some discussion pertaining to the extent to which marketers can safely generalize when discussing the nature and characteristics of industrial, business-to-business marketing.

Are we correct in offering students and in-company training program generalizations, which cut across the marketing domain? Are we doing justice to the core nuances if we simply draw out the variations between consumer goods, services, industrial and business-to-business marketing? Is there a different cut of the cake which should, as the new millennium dawns, be the focus of textbooks and marketing courses?

As co-author of one of the leading introductory marketing texts, Marketing: Concepts & Strategies (Dibb et al., 1997), regular MBA, undergraduate and in-company lecturer, as well as marketing consultant, these are themes which, increasingly, are causing this author concern when preparing seminar papers and lecturing sessions. Based on many years of researching and working with consumer brands, services and industrial products, as a starting proposition, here is a very personal view of how marketing in industrial markets really is different. Or is it?

The core dissimilarities

From basic marketing analyses, via target market strategy decisions, to the determination of tactical marketing mix programs and controls, there are marked differences in the issues encountered and the approaches deployed between consumer and industrial marketing.

Buying behavior

(Figure 1) Consumer versus business-to-business buying illustrates the popular buying behavior models for consumer and business-to-business markets, revealing the additional specification stage in much business-to-business purchasing and the different sets of influencing forces (for example, Assael, 1997; Ford, 1997). There are many additional variations, including the role of the buying center versus consumer peers, the assessment of risk, the formality of buying and the nature of selling. Few marketers, though, seem to disagree with there being some quite stark differences in how consumers buy and how businesses make purchases.

Understanding competitors

Perhaps because of the prominence of brands and the high profile in-home media adopted in much consumer promotion, most consumer marketers are aware of their rivals brands and marketing tactics. All too often, such competitive understanding is only superficial, but consumer marketers at least exhibit strong awareness of their like-for-like competitive arena (Chang and Simkin, 1997; Simkin, 2000).

In industrial markets, competitive intelligence is more difficult to attain market researchers cannot so readily conduct surveys of rival management teams and many businesses have only a haphazard awareness of their competitors intentions. Indeed, many managers seem so occupied with keeping up to date with product specification changes in their own portfolios and in sales force activity, that time allocated to assessing competitive forces is minimal.