The Evolution of Marketing

Marketing as a recognized profession has a brief, yet significant history, stemming from a company’s need to set itself apart in a crowded marketplace. Fascinated with the events that led up to what we know today, here’s a post that I’ve been wanting to write ever since that Marketing 101 course in college…

In a lot of ways, Marketing is as old as civilization itself. From Ancient Greece to our modern days, culture has based its trading and selling upon communication in order to move products faster than the man next to him. I’ve always seen it as a concept much like Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” – or what we will call in this case – “the act of persuasion.” Man is undeniably always trying to outshine others, and when it comes to selling, the concept is not far from it.

Nevertheless, much of the philosophies we know today are rooted in techniques and developments from the Industrial Revolution. Mass production coupled with advancements in transportation and technology meant that businessmen needed a better strategy when it came to the movement of goods. With nations applying laws against monopoly, how exactly does one sell something when one’s competitor is producing the exact same thing…or a reasonable facsimile thereof? Ahh, enter the marketer. This is when our profession is officially and truly born.

Corporations became aware of the need of individuals that would study markets and consumers, as well as their behavior patterns. Through this research, these crafty folks developed steps to be ahead of the game. What started out as a resource that determined what an organization would produce, has transformed into a science that coordinates why, when and how much of a product will be manufactured and where it will be sold. Companies went from inward to outward thinking, and our contribution has never been as clear as it is today.

Through the years, there have been major stages in the history of marketing that have marked not only evolution in approach but also ways of looking at the profession:

The Trade Era: Production consisted in handmade goods that were limited and generally traded through exploration.




The Production Orientation Era: Enter the industrial age. Since goods were scarce, businesses focused mainly in manufacturing. As long as someone was producing, someone else would want to buy it. This orientation rose to popularity due to shortages in the market, hence creating the foundation of Jean-Baptiste Say’s famous remark: “Supply creates its own demand.”





The Sales Orientation Era: After the Industrial Revolution, competition grew and focus turned to selling. Marketing, branding and sales became an important pillar as outputs surpassed demand, and companies competed for customers.





The Marketing Orientation Era: From the second half of the 20th century onward, the saturation of markets led companies to bestow upon marketers the opportunity to perform on a more strategic level. Through a profound knowledge on the customer, these professionals were involved in what the company would produce, its distribution channels and pricing strategy. Employees within an organization were also motivated to acquire marketing knowledge, which set the grounds to clients obtaining a general brand experience.



But wait, there’s more! According to recent publications, two new eras have been added to the list:

The Relationship Marketing Era: The focus of companies shifts towards building customer loyalty and developing relationships with clients. Authors such as Don Peppers, Martha Rogers and Philip Kotler were instigators of the importance of creating bonds, considering that “the cost of attracting a new customer is estimated to be five times the cost of keeping a current customer happy.” (Kotler, 1997)




The Social/Marketing Era: Concentrates on social interaction and a real-time connection with clients. Businesses are connected to current and potential customers 24/7 and engagement is a critical success factor.





Consider how much marketing has changed in the last century and will continue to shift as channels of communication, production levels and a society alter. As markets expand and new marketing platforms emerge, the science and practice of this profession is being transformed by the minute. What we consider today to be the fastest way to reach our customers might be obsolete tomorrow. Therein lies the beauty of this profession – change…constant, and many times frenzied, change.

In light of our topic, here are the major developments that have influenced marketing, especially when it comes to communication mediums:




So, my experience during my Marketing 101 course aside, I continue to be intrigued with the evolution of the marketing profession. While it has changed, and continues to do so, quite drastically, it has become that number one function to move the needle to profitability. And don’t worry, even if your business hasn’t kept up with the evolution in marketing, e3 image group has and we’re here to help.

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