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Before learning about marketing I had absolutely no idea just how powerful and in-depth it was. My initial understanding of marketing was that it is a method for businesses to promote products and establish brands for consumers.

I thought my initial understanding was pretty good, I had seen many commercials and advertisements and honestly thought it was a pretty easy concept to grasp.

Well, guess what, I was wrong. I was wrong for not knowing and naive for under-appreciating such a complex line of work.

So, what is marketing?

Simple definition: To understand and satisfy customer needs

Simpl(er) definition: To understand people and make them happy

Although both of these definitions are extremely simple, the process to make them actually happen is insanely deep and complex.

In an effort to skim the surface of this complexity, I will introduce the five concepts in marketing. These five concepts will expand how you think about products, services, and companies in your daily life while giving insight to variable consumer behaviors which in turn can help you understand the basic marketing thought processes.

1.) Production Concept

Companies focus on producing a product rather than focusing on product quality.

Consumers of the production concept want to buy something that is both inexpensive and widely available, they simply don’t care about quality.

An example that comes to my mind is McDonald’s hamburgers. McDonald’s are everywhere, especially in the USA (yeah were fat, you don’t have to rub it in), in addition, the service is extremely quick and efficient. McDonald’s was built on quickness and efficiency, a revolutionary process if you have ever seen the movie “The Founder”.

Quality on the other hand, well… uhm… less to be desired in my opinion. I don’t mean to degrade McDonald’s in any way, this is simply the truth of their business model. They focus on efficiency and abundance, not quality, as do many other fast-food restaurants.

Another example is Henry Ford’s assembly line where the Ford Company could build a car in less than 3 hours and other companies required 12 hours. Was a Ford better than a Rolls Royce? Absolutely not, but fords were cheaper and widely available which catered to the majority.


2.) Product Concept

As you may have guessed, opposite to the production concept the product concept focuses on product quality as opposed to efficiency.

Consumers are willing to spend more money and time to get a higher quality product. Going back to the hamburger example, a type of business that focuses on the product concept would be a mid-range or high-end restaurant which makes you wait and charges a high price for a burger.

Sure, the restaurant may not serve food the quickest and the kitchen may not be set up like an assembly line, but you can be sure the time is spent on making the best damn burger you can eat.


3.) Selling Concept

The selling concept is an idea where companies will make an effort to sell as much as they can because they believe customers won’t come unless the company promotes and sells many products.

The focus isn’t necessarily on production efficiency or product quality, but rather on pure sales in an effort to gain profits through sales volume. Profits from high sales volume are such a classic business strategy, isn’t it?

This concept it turns out isn’t the greatest because it is based on assumptions that customers will buy as a result of aggressive sales tactics. There is no research within this concept, just assumptions which can be extremely risky.


4.) Marketing Concept

The first three concepts focused heavily on production processes, product quality, and sales meaning the focus point was not on the customers.

The marketing concept however focuses on customer needs first and makes adjustments based on those needs. To discover customer needs firms must conduct marketing research and integrate a good marketing strategy to ultimately gain profits through customer satisfaction as opposed to pure sales.

Customer relationships are the most important aspect of businesses who use the marketing concept. Because market research is being conducted there is less risk involved due to more data collection and with data comes powerful consumer insights which can be narrowed down to produce a great solution.

The “marketing concept” is a modern way of marketing by moving closer to the customer. Disney for example conducts many surveys at their theme parks which gives them customer insight. They then use these insights to craft a magical experience for customers.


5.) Societal Marketing Concept

The most contemporary concept is similar to the marketing concept but in addition to focusing on customer needs, it takes society’s well-being into consideration as well.

A majority of the focus is placed in the long-term while less focus is placed on customer satisfaction and profits. Firms feel a responsibility to care for the environment and society as a whole and have the resources to make a positive impact.

This is fairly evident in today’s society as more sustainable products are entering the market. Toothbrushes made from recycled plastic, steel drinking straws, and reusable bags are just a few examples of products from companies pursuing the societal marketing concept.

As you may have guessed, target consumers in this concept are those who really care about the environment and are willing to spend more money to do so. If you have heard of the term “triple bottom line” which focuses on people, planet, and profits then this concept should be familiar to you.


Why are these concepts important?

Marketing is more than complex than simply airing a T.V. commercial or showing social media advertisements.

The marketing strategy each company uses is guided by the type of marketing concept. Whether businesses choose to focus on products first and then customers or customers first and products second determines the strategy used in marketing.

Each concept has a specific type of customer therefore companies must target the right group. A business focusing on the “production concept” most likely isn’t going to target a consumer who is concerned with the environment because that customer doesn’t fit their business model.

Understanding the concepts in marketing will translate into success and is a great starting point when learning about marketing.

Jacob Pippenger

Author Jacob Pippenger

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