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Marketing in the 21st Century
Marketing in the 21st Century

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1 What is marketing?

Stop and reflect

How would you define marketing?

Exactly what constitutes marketing has kept academics busy for a long time, yet there is still no consensus. Why has it been so difficult? For some academics such as Halbert (1965), the reason is that marketing lacks any theoretical basis. In other words, the concepts, practices and ideas that form marketing lack any strict, coherent meaning.

However, this has not prevented people from offering their own definitions, for example, as summarised in Figure 1.

Described image
Figure 1

While this cartoon, to some extent, summarises some aspects of what marketing is, we need a more comprehensive definition. Perhaps one of the most commonly used definitions belongs to the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) in the UK. CIM (2012) defines marketing as:

The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.

The key terms in this definition, ‘identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably’, will feature throughout this course but they are worth reflecting on.

Marketing can be defined as satisfying customer requirements at a profit. Such a profit could be defined purely financially or in terms of social importance. For example, reducing the number of smokers could be seen as a social profit. Without a profit an organisation loses its reason for existence. Yet this existence is sustained by satisfying customer requirements. An organisation can only do this by identifying and anticipating what the customer wants.