Marketing 101 – The Five Concepts of Marketing and Understanding the Marketing Concept

Targeting your audience isn’t something you should approach willy-nilly. These marketing concepts will help you logically think through how to drive your audience to action.

What Is Marketing?

Marketing is all-encompassing, from how you brand your product to the tone of voice of your copy, your social media content and more; it’s a vast subject. It is not just about the act of selling something but about why you’re selling it. It’s about human psychology, knowing why people buy and what motivates them to spend money with you.

In this article, we’ll address the five underpinning concepts of marketing and provide examples to illustrate the different concepts.

Let’s start with the basics.

    What Are The 5 Main Marketing Concepts?

    Marketing concepts is a collective term describing several approaches or concepts to marketing that can be taken to promote a product or service. They are underpinning philosophies on marketing that inform how one might approach promoting a business, product or service.

    There are five concepts that underpin marketing:

    • The Production Concept
    • The Product Concept
    • The Selling Concept
    • The Marketing Concept
    • The Societal Marketing Concept

    These concepts together form the basis of modern marketing, and it’s worth considering and understanding all of them, even if your main focus is on just one of the concepts.

    The Production Concept

    The production concept posits that people prefer products and services that are easily obtainable and cheap. Essentially this is the concept of mass production. Focusing your marketing efforts on this concept means you’re looking to achieve a highly efficient production process, keep costs low and aim for mass distribution.

    Think Walmart, McDonald’s (or any of the big, fast food franchises), Forever 21, Starbucks and countless other big brands you’ll find across the U.S. in every mall, town and city. Brands that focus on mass production keep costs low and sell to a large customer base. Each item sold attracts a low-profit margin, but selling at a very high volume ensures that profit remains high. It’s why Amazon can keep prices on its products so low and why H&M can offer such low prices on its clothes.

    The Product Concept

    The product concept puts forth the view that buyers focus on a product’s quality, features and benefits. Product-focused buyers look for innovation and uniqueness but not necessarily the lowest price.

    The biggest and best-known example of this type of marketing is Apple. Apple products work straight out of the box. They are easy to set up, use and update. Everything about them is beautiful, from their minimalist design to their sleek packaging and intuitive controls. Apple charges a premium for all this, but their hardcore fans are happy to pay. They understand what they’re getting when they purchase an Apple product.

    Other examples of product concept-led companies include Bose, the audio equipment manufacturer, Doc Martens boots and Tag Heuer watches.

    You’d be correct if you think many of the brands I’ve named above are also mass-produced. These brands operate under both concepts, but their clever marketing makes you believe in exclusivity so that they can justify charging a higher price.

    The Selling Concept

    The selling concept is based on the understanding that your customer won’t buy enough of your product or service unless you push them into it. The assumption is that your customer will be resistant and, therefore, must be made to buy. Marketing efforts based on the selling concept involve aggressively advertising everywhere constantly. Companies employing this concept often have various techniques to persuade the reluctant buyer to part with their cash. This type of marketing is often used by companies that have overproduced and therefore need to sell off inventory to make room for more products.

    Examples of employing the selling concept include:

    • Brands that aggressively promote Black Friday (and Cyber Monday), such as Amazon, although many big brands also use very similar tactics.
    • Brands that aggressively employ email marketing — think those that send emails daily that advertise reductions, discounts, sales and special offers. They’re the brands that are constantly in your inbox flashing their latest offer.
    • Any company or brand which seems to have a constant sales section.
    • Cold calling or emailing on a large scale without properly qualifying leads – any tactic that recommends “it’s all about the numbers” is employing the sales concept.
    • Aggressively pushing for the sale without qualification of a lead’s suitability, ignoring a customer’s no, using manipulative tactics or making outrageous promises.

    The Marketing Concept

    The selling concept is all about what the company wants or needs, but the marketing concept focuses on what the customer wants. If you’ve hung out in marketing groups or social media pages online, you’ll have heard discussions about concentrating on solving a customer’s problem to build a sustainable business.

    Brands that utilize the marketing concept spend time getting to know their customer’s likes and dislikes. They understand what problems keep their customers awake at night and develop products and services to solve those issues.

    This is the approach you’ll see small businesses take. While they can’t compete on scale or price with more prominent brands, they can, through a deep understanding of their customer, fill the gaps in the market and meet a niche demand.

    You’ll often see this approach with freelancers building small agile businesses online. Spend time on LinkedIn and engage with content from copywriters, designers, coaches and consultants, and you’ll see how they interact with their audience — often asking (and answering) questions in their chosen niche. They’ll then collate that data and develop a product to fill a demand in their market.

    A good example of this is those who offer LinkedIn coaching. They work with clients to help improve their LinkedIn profile so that they can bring in new business or land a new role. Often, these coaches will also have a digital ebook or course that distills their knowledge into an easily accessible and affordable package. They’ve developed these products as a result of demand from their customers.

    This approach is not limited to small companies or one-person businesses, though. Larger, more established brands also employ this tactic. Many SaaS brands interact with their customers through social media, where they maintain a development list populated by customers. This enables them to prioritize feature development put forward by their customer base. One such example is Infinity, a productivity tool that maintains a public roadmap where you can vote on which features you want to be developed next. You can also see what is in development and what has been publicly released and is now a full feature.

    The Societal Marketing

    The societal marketing concept takes the marketing concept further and is increasingly becoming the concept of choice when devising a marketing strategy. This concept says that you should focus on what your customer wants and what they need to solve their problem while ensuring that no harm comes to your customer (or even better, your solution benefits them somehow). You should also provide this solution as ethically as you can.

    Examples of brands and products that focus on this marketing concept include:

    • Herbivore and other beauty brands use organic ingredients and claim their products are ethically produced and do not harm the environment
    • Reformation – a clothing brand that focuses on ethically made clothing produced without harm to nature.

    Which Marketing Concept Is The Best?

    Well, it depends.

    The marketing concept you want to use depends on your business, your product or service and your relationship with your customers.

    There are also several other factors to consider. Some concepts, such as the production concept, must be approached cautiously.

    Mass production has several issues. In many cases, it’s environmentally destructive and may involve exploiting workers making the product. That is not to say this is the case for all mass-produced items, but it does need to be considered. Using this concept as the basis of any marketing effort assumes that consumers are primarily interested in easy access to your product and a low price. Still, any time on social media will show that’s not always the case. Concern about the environment and the ethics of any business inform how many people spend their money.

    If you’re looking to build a long-term business, you should consider your customers’ needs. In this day and age of mass consumption, where consumers are highly informed about production methods and environmental costs, you need to make sure your business practices are ethical, your product is made in an environmentally friendly way and that you are addressing a genuine need of your customer.

    By using the marketing concept and the societal marketing concept as the underpinning ideas for your marketing strategy, you build a firm foundation on which to grow your business long-term.

    Nail These Marketing Concepts to Engage Customer Attention

    Understanding the five marketing concepts will help you build a strong marketing campaign for your business.

    If you don’t understand your customers’ needs, you’re unlikely to succeed in your marketing efforts. Closing a sale with a reluctant buyer is never going to end well. You’re likely to see a higher rate of returns and refunds negatively impacting your business reputation. Alternatively, if you’re trying to sell a product for which there is no demand or sell to leads who are just not ready to buy, you don’t have a viable business.

    Marketing to the right people, understanding the buyer journey and giving customers the products and services that help solves their problems should form the basis of all your marketing efforts. Being trustworthy isn’t just the right thing to do (and it is). It also makes the most sense for your business.

    Ready to rock these marketing concepts and shift your buyers into overdrive? Check out the Rock Content Magazine for tips, tricks and content hacks that will supercharge your sales IQ.


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