Broad Marketing Shifts and Emerging Themes

The traditional concept of marketing involved the “set of activities & techniques that organizations undertake in order to sell their product. ” (Kotler & Keller: Ch. 1, pp 3-11). In other words, marketing function was restricted to selling products. Over the years, the business & consumer trends have changed and there is a paradigm shift in the marketing theory & approach. Marketing process is no more seen as selling products, it is all about selling an idea to the consumer.
Of late, the concept of relationship marketing has also gained importance. This paper examines the recent marketing trends & strategies in Mtech Communications Plc. Mtech Communications Plc is a technology firm based in Nigeria, providing first class services in data communications. Mtech focuses on mobile applications technology, using existing GSM networks and state-of-art mobile technology (The Mtech website, 2008). Mtech Communications, Plc, has made some strategic shifts in the marketing philosophy of the company.
1. Target Marketing: Mtech Communications has gradually shifted its focus from segmentation of its products to identifying & organizing target market segments. This means that the focus of marketing has shifted from increasing sales by organizing products to breaking the market into segments and changing the marketing strategy according to the segment. But this strategy is not completely flawless. Gummesson (2008) has maintained that the customer-centricity is unrealistic and can never be whole-heartedly implemented. However, to a certain degree, the customer-centric approach is healthy for the company.

2. Customer Lifetime Value: Mtech Communications Plc has shifted focus from earning profits from a transaction to creating long term customer loyalty and value. This means that profit is seen as a by-product of customer satisfaction rather than being the main aim of the transaction itself.
3. Building Customer Share: Mtech Communications has realized that instead of increasing the market share, the customer share can be increased by narrowing down the valuable customers and concentrating marketing efforts on those customers and thereby getting the largest share of their business.
This shift has seen Mtech rise from nothing to holding over 40% of the market in Nigeria as well as opening for business in 6 other African countries.
4. Marketing- A Corporate Function: The customer focus is now a company-wide mindset rather than just the job requirement of the marketing department. This shift is quite important because it ensures that the customers are the focus from the brainstorming process to the product development and distribution. Marketing is now a corporate goal, not just a departmental function.
5. Focus on Few Segments: There has been a shift from trying to sell and meet the needs of everyone to just concentrating at being the best at serving a well-defined customer group or target markets. Mtech Communications has been providing value added solutions to all media segments, from radio to television, the web; mobile phones etc. However, the company soon realized that trying to serve all the segments is not working well in the interests of the company.
Emerging Trends in other companies
Co-creation:
Companies like Fiat & Harley Davidson invite a group of customers to be partners in strategizing and creating their future products. Harley Davidson invites motorcycle enthusiasts to come around and watch the engineers develop the next motorcycle, or even play around with it themselves. Fiat while testing designs for Punto, invited potential customers to visit its website & choose the features they want to see in their cars. This way, Fiat was able to catch the pulse of the market.
Brand Building & Advertising:
Many companies in consumer goods are relying on this technique.
They connect with the customers through aggressive advertising & positioning their brands. Coca Cola, Pepsi, L’Oreal & other FMCG ( Fast Moving Consumer Goods) companies. Relationship Marketing: Relationship marketing is all about customer retention and building a long term relationship with customers rather that single unconnected events. It involves proper follow up with customers and understanding their changing needs. The companies that advocate relationship marketing include Volkswagen, Dell, Coca Cola eBay & Nescafe. In the light of the shifts in marketing, three broad themes have emerged.
One is that given the technology available these days, consumer/customer empowerment is the sure shot way of success. Customer is not the king, but an important stakeholder (strategic partner). The second theme being decentralization, due to increased global competition, the companies are beginning to increase their attention to all aspects of marketing. They are encompassing marketing as a corporate goal and not just a departmental function. Lastly, it is the heightened competition. Many companies in trying to attract the customers will enter into what is called a cut-throat competition.Though it is a win-win situation for the customers, but for corporate sector it is detrimental. Read about paradigm shift in human resource management
References
Kotler, P. & Keller, K. L. (2009) Marketing Management: Pearson International 13th Ed. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Gummesson, E. (2008) ‘Customer centricity: Reality or wild goose chase? ’, European Business Review, 20(4), pp. 315-330. [online] Available from: http://www. emeraldinsight. com. ezproxy. liv. ac. uk/Insight/viewContentItem. do? contentType=Article&contentId=1732779 [Accessed: 6 June 2010].

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