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What Are the Different Marketing Management Orientations?

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You can't succeed in business if nobody buys your product. To market your product or service, you have to anticipate what consumers want or need and convince them you can meet their needs better or cheaper than anyone else. Marketing management orientations are big-picture concepts that classify different approaches to marketing. According to the orientation theory, there are five overall marketing concepts.

Production Concept Marketing Definition

The production orientation amounts to "Build it cheap, and they will come." It was the dominant theory from the dawn of capitalism through the mid-1950s. The production concept of marketing assumes that what customers want is affordable products. If you make cheap goods easily accessible, that does most of the marketing for you.

This fits very well with companies that focus on mass production. As they ramp up manufacturing, production becomes more efficient, which lowers the cost per unit. That allows the company to sell goods for less. This approach doesn't require learning any details about the customers. It assumes the customers want things cheap, so cutting costs is more important than anything else. This orientation can pay off, but it's easy to lose sight of the customers' needs.

Understand Product Concept Marketing

Product concept marketing sounds like production concept marketing, but it's the opposite. This orientation assumes customers don't want cheap – they want quality; if the product is good, the price doesn't matter. The company's focus becomes not undercutting the competition's prices but offering a better product. Once they perfect the product, it should be easy to sell, right?

While lots of consumers do look for quality, that doesn't make this an effective strategy. Like the production orientation, the product orientation doesn't consider what buyers want or need. Adding more and more buttons to a TV remote may create a product that does more than any rival remote, but what if consumers don't need or care about the added functions? Lots of businesses have failed by imagining that quality alone would save the day.

What Is Sales Orientation?

The sales orientation concept sounds like it's customer-focused, but that's not quite true. This orientation does prioritize persuading customers to buy, but it doesn't care about what they want. Instead, it's all about the hard sell: Take your existing products and push the customer to buy them. Sales-oriented businesses don't care about quality or price, and don't worry about customer needs either. Aggressive selling often does the deal – but the customer is unhappy afterward and never comes back.

The Market Orientation Concept

Unlike the first three orientations, the marketing or market orientation actually focuses on marketing strategy. Companies with a marketing orientation learn what the target demographic wants and work to satisfy those wants better than the competition. The businesses design a product with the customer in mind rather than pushing the products they feel like making. Coca-Cola and Pepsi, for instance, don't simply market diet sodas as low-calorie, they promise their customers they'll get what they want – a great taste experience.

The Societal Marketing Orientation

Societal marketing is the new kid on the block, an answer to consumers who want to buy from ethical companies. In addition to thinking about products and marketing tactics, this orientation looks at the impact the company has on society and the environment. Fair-trade coffee companies, for example, tell consumers that they're giving the coffee producers a fair price; cruelty-free dairy products assure buyers the cows are treated well. This can be effective in the 21st century, but living up the ethical requirements can be difficult.