March 27, 2012

Time for a new definition of the term MARKETING?

The latest definition of the term Marketing by the American Marketing Association (AMA) dates from 2007. Marketing is defined as " the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large".
In a post of this blog in 2008 I commented on the fact that this definition replaced another one, just 3 years after its introduction in 2004. The 2004 definition was obviously heavily criticised for its myopic view on marketing.
While many traditional marketers (and other stakeholders) were obviously pleased with the 2007 AMA definition of Marketing - it is found today in almost all marketing textbooks - I think that this definition is again at the end of its life cycle; most young people entering today the marketing domain as professional would have problems to accept it.
This because a few things have dramatically changed since 2007, most important one being the staggering growth of the social media domain and the subsequent customer empowerment as a result of it. While the 2007 AMA definition is underlining the role of marketing for creating, communicating, delivering and exchanging offerings it completely ignores the customer domination of the marketplace and a number of other facts that the social media explosion has introduced to the marketing reality.
There are two main drawbacks in this definition: The first is that it is still based on the one-way, broadcasting type of thinking that still dominates the thinking of older marketers. In a customer-dominated market the broadcasting attitude must be replaced by an interactive one based on listening and engagement.
The second issue here is that two basic elements of the definition have been transformed today in something completely different than what they used to be: the creation and the communication.
  • "creation" is rapidly replaced by "co-creation". Businesses failing to tap the customer creativity in developing new products, services and communication concepts will be the laggards of the future.   
  • Old fashion "Communication" by means of mass media is rapidly losing ground and influence. Looking to a billboard this morning on the way to the office I suddenly realised that the only function of the ad displayed there was to inform me about a product and nothing else! My customer journey will actually start behind my laptop, iPad or smartphone where I would go searching about the product I saw by reading reviews and opinions of those who already bought it. The message is not anymore the  medium: The Customer is the medium (and the message).
These simple realities make the latest Marketing definition obsolete. I could fill pages explaining this further but I think the bottom line is that Marketing academics must bend again over the drawing board and redefine the term marketing. We are already late with this: our students and the field are waiting.