What is Marketing?
Is it true that every time people attempt to satisfy their needs by means of an exchange, marketing is involved? Or
is it false? I once posed this question to a group of marketing students. Their answers were as varied and
entertaining as a circus. The conversations that flowed from this made me to do a rethink about what marketing
What is marketing? Several authors have defined marketing in various ways. The American Marketing Association
defines marketing as the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion and distribution of
ideas, goods and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organisational goals. Cronje, et al
(2007:283) define marketing as consisting of management tasks and decisions directed at successfully meeting
opportunities and threats in a dynamic environment, by effectively developing and transferring a need-satisfying
market offering to consumers, in such a way that the objectives of the business, the consumer and society will be
Schiffman and Kanuk (1994) talk about the marketing concept which they insist is about a company determining
accurately the needs and wants of specific target markets, and delivering the desired satisfactions better than the
competition. They also say that a marketer should make what it can sell, instead of trying to sell what it has made.
Using the example of a tennis racket, Perreault and McCarthy (1996:8) posit that marketing is about analysing the
needs of consumers of a particular product, deciding the range of need for this product, determining amount of
interests for now and the future, and providing access to the product. They also talk about the price to sell the
product in order to make profit as well as ensuring that consumers get to know about the product. Interestingly
they have also included other tennis racket manufacturers as constituting part of a racket manufacturer’s
consideration. Perreault and McCarthy thus conclude that marketing is both a set of activities performed by
organisations as well as a social process. The inclusion of a social process in the definition submits to marketing
serving a social and economic benefit for the whole society.
Lamb, et al (2007:7) say marketing is about anticipating and satisfying consumer needs by means of mutually
beneficial exchange processes and doing so profitably and more effectively than competitors by means of
efficient managerial processes.
Marketing therefore can be said to be about exchanges, conversations and interventions to improve the quality of
goods and services as well as to obtain some benefits. If one can argue that this is true, therefore, marketing
possibilities extend to both a seller of a product and or service as well as the buyer of the product or service. The
question one can then ask in this instance is whether a role is played by the buyer of a service or product. The
answer is a simple yes. The buyer’s role can therefore be said to include:
A declaration of the need for a service or product
Purchasing a product or service
Using and or consuming a product or service
Evaluating the benefits of a product or service for possible future use
Today’s marketers face a marketplace that is becoming increasingly more competitive, more specialised, more
globalised and more technologically-driven. To participate and sustain relevance, marketers require a combination
of creativity and knowledge. To effectively manage and realise a buyer ’s objectives, the seller has to perform the
Presentation of sources of identifying a service or product
Ensuring that the product or service is affordable as well as providing access to the product or service
Provision of enough information that enhances the beneficial use of the product or service
Provision of accessible feedback mechanism for users of a product or service
Acting on feedback from users of a product or service
The foregoing demonstrates that marketing is essentially an interaction between marketers and consumers of
goods and services, which requires taking a decision on the part of management to produce worthwhile products
and services, and then sell them at affordable prices on the basis of the profile of a market segment. It also
behoves management to ensure meaningful access to the goods and services as well as the use of appropriate
media to communicate the messages of the product and or service.
Bennett, P.D. 1995. Dictionary of marketing terms. 2nd edition. Chicago: American Marketing Association, p. 115.
Cronje, GJ, Du Toit GS, Motlatla, & MDC, Marais, A de K. 2007. Introduction to Buiness Management. 6th edition.
Cape Town: Oxford University Press, p. 283.
Schiffman, Leon G, & Kanuk, LL. 1994. Consumer Behavior. 5th edition. London: Prentice-Hall.
Perreault, W.D. & McCarthy, E.J. 1996. Basic Marketing. Chicago: McGraw-Hill, p.8
Lamb, Charles W Jr, Hair, JF, McDaniel, C, Boshoff, & C, Terblanche, NS. 2007. Marketing. 2nd South African
edition. Cape Town: Oxford University Press, p. 7.
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