Marketing has come a long way since the mid-19th century, when all efforts were focused on the production of goods and services. Companies were engaged in mass production of standard items, with little regard for customer needs and desires. In the United Kingdom during the 1950s and 60s, more emphasis was placed on designing and engineering the best products that a sane customer would buy. The popular phrase at the time was “Build a better mousetrap and the world will make its way to your door”.
The key issue in this case was the high level of production, with the underlying philosophy that customers were reluctant to buy and had to be forced to buy. While a small number of companies continue to practice sales orientation, the law now protects consumers from more dubious sales techniques, largely due to the movement of consumers. In this method, companies plan and make decisions around the needs and wants of customers. It is vital to meet customer needs through a coordinated set of activities that includes the actions and functions of all employees of the organization, regardless of the area of the company in which they work.
In other words, marketing orientation requires that all members of an organization focus on the customer and not just people who work in marketing. The marketing launch stage should focus on messaging, product or service marketing campaigns, brand awareness, and audience participation. Marketing efforts can also define how and where to reach potential customers. This includes online marketing channels, such as SEO or email marketing, along with offline channels.
In 1965, Theodore Levitt, professor of marketing, wrote in the Harvard Business Review that the innovator has the most to lose, because many truly new products fail in the first phase of their life cycle, the introductory phase. During this initial phase, focus your marketing efforts on research, competitive analysis, customer personalities, and defining your brand. Marketing tactics can help you determine if it's worth taking your idea or value proposition to the next stage of development. By knowing what phase its products are in, a company can change the way it spends resources, what products to promote, how to allocate staff time and what innovations it wants to investigate next.
For example, a company may decide to reallocate time from market staff to products that are in the stages of introduction or growth. From both an operational and marketing perspective, you'll see a repetitive process at every stage as you develop your business. The maturity stage of the product life cycle is the most cost-effective stage, while production and marketing costs decrease. Some marketing tactics work at one stage but not at others, while some tactics can be implemented at any stage. Throughout the different stages of the product life cycle, a company implements strategies and changes depending on how well its products are received by customers. In line with this evolution, theorists have identified seven distinct stages of marketing: introduction; growth; maturity; decline; market saturation; market decline; and market exit.
Each stage requires different strategies for success. For example, OLED televisions are in their maturity phase while on-demand programming is in a growth phase; DVDs are in decline and VCRs have died out. At each stage companies must consider how much they are willing to invest in marketing costs. For example, a company is more likely to incur high marketing costs in the introduction phase than in later stages such as maturity or decline. No matter what phase its products are in, competition can be adversely affected by competition when its patent ends. It is important for companies to understand these stages so they can adjust their strategies accordingly.