Business Studies Part I
Business Studies Part II

Marketing: Functions


Marketing is concerned with exchange of goods and services from producers to consumers or users in such a way that maximises the satisfaction of customers’ needs. From the view point of management function, number of activities are involved, which have been described as below: 

  1. Gathering and Analysing Market Information: One of the important functions of a marketer is to gather and analyse market information. This is necessary to identify the needs of the customers and take various decisions for the successful marketing of the products and services. This is important for making an analysis of the available opportunities and threats as well as strengths and weaknesses of the organisation and help in deciding what opportunities can best be pursued by it. For example, rapid growth is predicted in several areas in the Indian economy, say in the use of internet, market for Cell phones and several other areas. Which of these areas a particular organisation should enter or in which area should it expand requires a careful scanning of the strengths and, weaknesses of the organisation, which is done with the help of careful market analysis. With the growth of computers, a new trend has emerged in the collection of market information. More and more companies are using interactive sites on the internet, to gather customer views and opinions, before taking important business decisions. (see the box on Global Brands) One of the popular TV News Channel (in Hindi) seeks viewers choice (through SMS) on which of the given four or five main news stories of The Future of Global Brands Role of Digital connection and consumer cooperation In China and India, booming middle classes and fast-rising disposable incomes have created a still-under-tapped consumer culture. Let’s not forget the lessons being learned about the brand-building, power of digital connections and consumer co-creation. Since the advent of the internet, sites that offer social interaction and connectivity have been at the forefront of our digital revolution, reshaping the way consumers expect to interact with each other and, ultimately, with brands. Online tag-sale site e-Bay, for example was one of the first sites to teach us that you can trust people online as well as you might trust a friendly neighbour. That social interaction paved the way for Friendster and MySpace and You Tube, a social networking tool that, in the past year, has empowered consumers to create their own content and post it to a global audience. Anyone who doubts the real market potential of such a platform only needs to check out October’s biggest business headlines: Google purchased the site for $ 1.65 billion. HSBC effort attempted a similar goal, to give consumers a forum for conversation. At your, consumers in 76 countries can weigh in and give their opinions on subjects including cloning, fashion, wind farms and video games. Teenagers in Chinese cities surf the web for 5.1 hours a week, and the online ad-market is booming—by more than 75% annually for the past three years, according to Business Week, Mobile phones are among the most coveted pieces of technology. And 17.5 million bloggers (and their 75 million readers), many of whom fall within the coveted 18–25 age groups, are shaping consumer opinions in China with more intensity than they do in the US. The internet age has put advertisers and branding experts face-to-face with an empowered consumer. And those consumers are happy to listen to our messages, as long as we are willing to listen to them. Source: Adopted from Brand Equity the day would be broadcasted as detailed story at the prime time, to ensure that the viewers get to listen to the story of their own choice.
  2. Marketing Planning: Another important activity or area of work of a marketer is to develop appropriate marketing plans so that the marketing objectives of the organisation can be achieved. For example a marketer of colour TVs, having 10 per cent of the current market share in the country aims at enhancing his market share to 20 per cent, in the next three years. He will have to develop a complete marketing plan covering various important aspects including the plan for increasing the level of production, promotion of the products, etc. and specify the action programmes to achieve these objectives.
  3. Product Designing and Development: Another important marketing activity or decision area relates to product designing and development. The design of the product contributes to making the product attractive to the target customers. A good design can improve performance of a product and also give it a competitive advantage in the market. For example, when we plan to buy any product say a motorbike, we not only see its features like cost, mileage, etc. but also the design aspects like its shape, style, etc.
  4. Standardisation and Grading: Standardisation refers to producing goods of predetermined specifications, which helps in achieving uniformity and consistency in the output. Standardisation ensures the buyers that goods conform to the predetermined standards of quality, price and packaging and reduces the need for inspection, testing and evaluation of the products. Grading is the process of classification of products into different groups, on the basis of some of its important characteristics such as quality, size, etc. Grading is particularly necessary for products which are not produced according to predetermined specifications, such as in the case of agricultural products, say wheat, oranges, etc. Grading ensures that goods belong to a particular quality and helps in realising higher prices for high quality output.
  5. Packaging and Labelling: Packaging refers to designing the package for the products. Labelling refers to designing the label to be put on the package. Label may vary from a simple tag to complex graphics. Packaging and labelling have become so important in modern day marketing that these are considered as the pillars of marketing. Packaging is important not only for protection of the products but also serves as a promotional tool. Sometimes, the quality of the product is assessed by the buyers form packaging. We have seen that in the success of many of the consumer brands in recent times such as Lays or Uncle Chips potato wafers Clinic Plus shampoos, and Colgate Toothpaste, etc., packaging has played an important role.
  6. Branding: A very important decision area for marketing of most consumer products is whether to sell the product in its generic name (name of the category of the product, say Fan, Pen, etc.) or to sell them in a brand name (such as Pollar Fan or Rottomac Pen). Brand name helps in creating product differentiations, i.e., providing basis for distinguishing the product of a firm with that of the competitor, which in turn, helps in building customer’s loyality and in promoting its sale. The important decision areas in respect of branding include deciding the branding strategy, say whether each product will be given a separate brand name or the same brand name will be extended to all products of the company, say Phillips Bulbs, Tubes and Television or Videocon Washing Machine, Television, and Refrigerator. Selection of the brand name plays important role in the success of a product.
  7. Customer Support Services: A very important function of the marketing management relates to developing customer support services such as after sales services, handling customer complaints and adjustments, procuring credit services, maintenance services, technical services and consumer information. All these services aim at providing maximum satisfaction to the customers, which is the key to marketing success in modern days. Customer support services prove very effective in bringing repeat sales from the customers and developing brand loyality for a product.
  8. Pricing of Products: Price of product refers to the amount of money customers have to pay to obtain a product. Price is an important factor affecting the success or failure of a product in the market. The demand for a product or service is related to its price. Generally lower the price, higher would be the demand for the product and vice-versa. The marketers have to properly analyse the factors determining the price of a product and take several crucial decisions in this respect, including setting the pricing objectives, determining the pricing strategies, determining the price and changing the prices.
  9. Promotion: Promotion of products and services involves informing the customers about the firm’s product, its features, etc. and persuading them to purchase these products. The four important methods of promotion include advertising, Personal Selling, Publicity and Sales Promotion. A marketer has to take several crucial, decisions in respect of promotion of the products and services such as deciding the promotion budget, the promotion mix, i.e., the combination of the promotional tools that will be use, the promotion budget, etc.
  10. Physical Distribution: Managing physical distribution is another very important function in the marketing of goods and services. The two major decision areas under this function include (a) decision regarding channels of distribution or the marketing intermediaries (like whole MARKETING salers, retailers) to be used and (b) physical movement of the product from where it is produced to a place where it is required by the customers for their consumption or use. The important decision areas under physical distribution include managing inventory (levels of stock of goods), storage and warehousing and transportation of goods from one place to the other.
  11. Transportation: Transportation involves physical movement of goods from one place to the other. As generally the users of products, particularly consumer products are wide spread and geographically separated from the place these are produced, it is necessary to move them to the place where it is needed for consumption or use, For example, tea produced in Assam has to be transported not only within the state but to other far off places like Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir and Haryana, Rajasthan, where it is consumed. A marketing firm has to analyse its transportation needs after taking into consideration various factors such as nature of the product, cost and location of target market and take decisions in respect of mode of transportation to be chosen and other related aspects.
  12. Storage or Warehousing: Usually there is a time gap between the production or procurement of goods and their sale or use. It may be because of irregular demand for the products such as in the case of woollen garments or Raincoats or there may be irregular supply because of seasonal production such as in the case of agricultural products (sugarcane, rice, wheat, cotton, etc.). In order to maintain smooth flow of products in the market, there is a need for proper storage of the products. Further, there is a need for storage of adequate stock of goods to protect against unavoidable delays in delivery or to meet out contingencies in the demand. In the process of marketing, the function of storage is performed by different agencies such as manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers.

The three functions of marketing with reference to the above paragraph are described below:

  • Gathering and analyzing market information: The prime focus of marketing is to ‘find wants and fill them’. Therefore, it is absolutely essential for a company to study the needs and preferences of its target market in order to satisfy their needs and wants optimally.
  • Standardisation and grading: Standardisation refers to the process of manufacturing goods as per predetermined specifications. Grading refers to the process of classifying goods on the basis of certain criteria like quality, size etc. Usually, agricultural products are subject to grading.
  • Branding: Branding is the process of assigning a name (brand name), sign or symbol (brand mark) or a combination of all to a product. It is considered to be a very important decision by the marketers because it facilitates product differentiation. This helps the company to obtain a desirable market share.