The primary concern or objective of marketing is to identify and satisfy, or exceed the changing needs of customers. In view of this broad concern of marketing, it can be seen that the concept of marketing encapsulates many activities in a business. Marketing, in fact, refers to any activity undertaken by a firm that has been designed to plan, price, promote and distribute ideas, goods and services to target markets. These marketing activities were executed in order to create exchange, that is sales, that will result in the achievement of the proprietors’ individual goals and the firm’s goals, both in the short-term and the long-term. It is then obvious that marketing forms an integral component of any business’s operations.
In particular marketing activities attempt to increase a firms’ revenue base, by placing an emphasis on enticing potential customers in target markets to purchase the firms’ products in order to satisfy their wants, rather than those of firm’s competitors. Consequently, the marketing directly contributes to the attainment of the financial goals of the firm. Hence, the success of a firm is reliant upon the extent to which it is able to identify, and satisfy or exceed the customer’s needs more effectively and efficiently relative to its competitors vying for the same markets.
Marketing as an activity that entails several features, all of which are presented during the course of the marketing process. Such features include, firstly and most importantly, that marketing is a comprehensive process that begins with the creation of an idea and ends up as product that will be sold to satisfy a customer’s needs. Secondly, marketing is seen as a managerial process as it involves making managerial decisions about the particular mix of product, price, place and promotion in a firm. Furthermore, marketing involves managers planning and ensuring that particular sequenced activities are carried out, in order for the marketing plan to be successful. Finally, marketing is perceived as a way in which firms are able to satisfy the needs of customers, and in turn achieve their own business goals.
APPROACHES TO MARKETING:
Marketing provides the business with the ability to satisfy the changing wants of customers. In light of this, and the fact that businesses have become increasingly aware of the role that marketing plays in achieving success in the business, several approaches or philosophies to marketing have developed. There are five central approaches to marketing, with the use of a specific marketing approach/s depends upon particular business’s marketing strategy and the type of product being marketed. These different approaches are:
Marketing Concept: this approach believes that customer’s want-satisfaction is the economic and social reason for an organisation’s existence. This approach stipulates that all of the business’s activities should be targeted towards meeting consumer wants, while at the same time meeting the organisation’s goals. In effect, this approach requires that the firm finds out what the customer wants, and subsequently develops a product to meet these requirements and then sell it at a profit.
Production Concept: this approach states that the business will sell its product if it is both well made and affordable. Businesses utilising this approach require management to focus on improving production techniques and cost structures of the business. Consequently, this approach does not place emphasis on customer want-satisfaction.
Product Concept: this approach has the attitude that ‘product is king’ and focuses on the quality, features, and performance of the product. This approach believes that if the product has more features or is of a better quality and performance compared to competitors, it will then gain greater sales. This approach is not customer want-satisfaction oriented.
Selling Concept: this approach focuses on developing sales techniques and promotional activities in order to entice customers into buying an organisation’s product, whether they want it or not. Therefore this approach places direct emphasis on customers, but, possibly not on their want-satisfaction.
Societal Marketing Concept: this is the latest marketing approach, it combines the main ideas of the marketing approach, that is, determining customer needs and satisfying the business’s goals, but also integrates social responsibility into the business. This social responsibility includes increasing environmental awareness, which may include tackling the problems of pollution and the exploitation of non-renewable resources. Modern day businesses are under pressure to adopt this marketing approach, in order to become more socially responsible. This approach not only focuses on fulfilling the customer’s want-satisfaction, but also satisfying society.
MARKETING APPROACHES ADOPTED BY SONY:
The electronics firm, Sony, has expanded its operations from its establishment in 1946 in a ‘bombed out department store’, to become one of the world’s largest and most influential electronics firms. Sony, has furthermore, developed a worldwide reputation, as one of the worlds most innovative and technologically advanced firms. Its success can be attributed to several internal factors, which include, the freedom of workers to experiment, the passionate decisions of management, the established corporate culture, and also particularly to the marketing approaches that top management has integrated into the firm since its establishment.
The leaders of Sony, from its founders to the present-day management, have encouraged their product designers to express and prove their individual visions about the development of new products to the firm, as with the Sony Walkman. In fact top management has been ‘willing to join the creative fray’, which has lead to the development of a cohesive firm with a corporate culture. This management style prompted the development of premium quality, unique, and futuristic products, and along with the establishment of a strong corporate culture, formed the basis of the firm’s competitive advantage. These aspects gave rise to adoption of several marketing approaches during the course of Sony’s life cycle.
During Sony’s period of establishment the marketing approach was the key approach, since the initial management of Sony decided that the only way to succeed was to discover a new form of technology and develop a product from it, which would satisfy the wants of customers. This was evidenced by the conception of the tape recorder, and the first pocket-sized radio, developed for changing lifestyles. This approach has continued and still practiced today as signified by the recent development of the following products, the Walkman, the Handycam, the Discman, all of which are regarded by millions of customers as products that represent a way of life. The marketing approach was influential in the marketing of the Walkman, such a concept originated from a want of customers for a small, portable, tape/radio player, to replace the large, inconvenient players of the era. Sony identified this customer-want, and the Walkman was introduced, and heavily marketed, and in turn, became one of!
the firm’s most successful products. In addition Sony has realised that consumer-want for electronics is apparent in all age groups and as such, it has developed several products for different markets, for example, ‘My First Sony’ was introduced for a younger target market.
Another essential marketing approach for Sony has been the product approach, unlike other firms in Japan; Sony prides itself in producing products which have incorporated unique plastic appearance and futuristic features with superior quality, and affordability of price. These concepts have ensured that Sony’s sales have outstripped both domestic and foreign, including Western, competitors. In fact, Sony has upheld these concepts, in regards to their products, to the extent that they cancelled the production of a new television, simply because a rival had placed a similar product on the market. Coupled with the product marketing approach has been the design of products, which is a major feature in the marketing strategy of Sony, this is evident with the Sony Playstation, which has been carefully designed and uniquely developed for the younger target market.
In the future, with the dawn of the digital age, Sony must place greater emphasis on the product marketing approach, to achieve sales, if it wishes to maintain its market edge. This requires, Sony, embracing advanced technology in the manufacturing of its products. The managers of Sony have realised the dilemma, that due to the speed of technological advancements, the products Sony releases today will become obsolete rapidly. Therefore, Sony is continually, incorporating innovation achieved via extensive research and development, to improve and expand upon its products to make them superior to competitors. This approach has lead to the development of several 21st century products to be used to dominate the future electronics market; these products include a portable head-mounted video player, a DVD player, and a new-generation computer.
The final approach to marketing by Sony has been the selling approach, Sony, as a multinational firm, has earned a reputation worldwide as being a superior producer market leader, in regards to electronics products. The size of the company allows it to promote its product on a larger scale than that of many of its competitors. Potential customers are enticed to purchase the firm’s product, even if they do not need it, by the array of commercials, catalogues, and other methods, which portray Sony product’s as being superior. Further, the appearance of Sony’s products is heavily marketed as being state of the art, everyone is aware of the black, sleek, elegant, and futuristic appearance of the Sony the products.
WHY SONY IS A SUCCESSFUL INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS
Sony is a successful international business as it has grown to become one of the world’s largest and most influential electronics firms, due to its ability to meet consumer-wants worldwide. This influence over the market is evident as domestic and international competitors wait for Sony to initiate a market trend via the introduction of a product, and then duplicate this, so as to benefit from Sony’s success. Furthermore, Sony has come to possess a worldwide reputation, which rivals those of the other multinationals, like Nike and others, a reputation which has made Sony and its products synonymous with quality and superiority in electronics. Sony’s is also seen as internationally successful as it has entered many export markets in the world, including Australia, Sony also has established several headquarters in different parts of the world, including America and Europe, which is a testament to its international success. This worldwide status has enabled Sony to discover chan!
ges in consumer wants, new product ideas, and the success of different marketing approaches worldwide. Sony’s international success can be attributed to several internal factors, these in the passionate decisions of management, in that they allow the product designers the freedom to experiment and develop the ideas that may lead to a breakthrough for the firm. Further, Sony’s success can be attributed to the establishment of a strong corporate culture in the firm, which allows the goals of the firm to be achieved, as managers have ensured the everyone is able to focus on the overall picture of the firm. Sony’s integration of marketing approaches is another keystone to the firm’s international success, as the simultaneous use of the strategies has allowed the firm to better satisfy customer wants, and in turn better achieve its own goals.
This success can be attributed, largely, to the role of product marketing in the business, the attitude that ‘product is king’ has allowed Sony to develop a general direction in which the firm is headed. The use of product marketing has resulted in Sony being able to, use different methods, such as market research and R&D, to discover the wants of customers, and in turn develop products to satisfy these wants, all of which has enabled Sony to gain sales and become successful, internationally. Product marketing has also allowed Sony to maintain its edge in the electronics market. As Sony’s designers are using the market approach to continually develop, improve, and expand upon their products to meet the changing customer needs, this coupled with large-scale promotion of the product, itself, has allowed Sony to maintain its competitive advantage. This approach has also meant that any perceived problems with the products can be easily identified and corrected. Finally, the empha!
sis on product marketing has allowed Sony to develop products which are encompassing the ‘technology of tomorrow today’ allowing, Sony to maintain its success well into the future.