Based on the consumers’ assessed needs, companies can make deliberate, driven decisions to satisfy their consumers’ needs, better than their competition. Companies that hold this philosophy believe that their consumers are the driving force of their business and an organization’s marketing and selling activities should be carried out under a well thought out philosophy of efficiency, effectiveness, and socially responsibility. Nowadays, most companies have incorporated this marketing concept. However, for a new company, how would you know what a customer would need and want?

First of all, let us define “needs” and “wants”. Bear in mind that “needs” are basic requirements for an individual to survive. For instance water, food, shelter, etc. Obviously, the needs of consumers are broad. On the other hands “wants” are the desires for something that an individual cannot live without. For instance, a house, a brand new car, a phone, and the like. Even though consumers’ needs are broad, wants can be very particular.

Consumers decide to buy based on both their needs and wants. In a situation where one wants to get a phone to call and also use same phone for browsing; for this purpose, any smart phone will work. Yet, the consumer would have a particular phone in mind with long battery life, fast in browsing, and a good mega pixel camera. It is at this point that marketers would come in. Marketers acknowledge the needs of consumers and use the consumers’ desire for what they want to steer them towards specific products and services.

There are five concepts under which organizations design and carry out their marketing strategies.

The Production Concept: This concept is the oldest of the concepts in business.  It holds that consumers will favor products that are available and highly affordable. Marketing strategies focusing on this concept concentrate on achieving high production efficiency, low costs, and mass distribution.  They assume that consumers are primarily interested in product availability and low prices.  This orientation makes sense in developing countries, where consumers are more interested in obtaining the product than in its features.

The Product Concept: This orientation holds that consumers will favor those products that offer the most quality, performance and innovative features. Marketing strategies focusing on this concept concentrate on making superior products and improving them over time. They assume that buyers admire well made products and can appraise quality and performance.  However, these Marketing strategies can sometimes lead to market myopia. Suppose a company makes the best quality Floppy disk. But a customer does really need a floppy disk?She or he needs something that can be used to store the data. It can be achieved by a USB Flash drive, SD memory cards, portable hard disks, and etc. So that company should not look to make the best floppy disk. They should focus to meet the customer’s data storage needs.

The Selling Concept: This is another common business orientation. It holds that consumers and businesses, if left alone, will ordinarily not buy enough of the selling company’s products. The organization must, therefore, undertake an aggressive selling and promotion effort. This concept assumes that consumers typically show buying resistance and must be persuaded into buying.  It also assumes that the company has a whole set of effective selling and promotional tools to stimulate more buying. Most firms practice the selling concept when they have overcapacity. Their aim is to sell what they make rather than make what the market wants.

The Marketing Concept:  This is a business philosophy that challenges the above three concepts. It holds that the key to achieving its organizational goals (goals of the selling company) consists of the company being more effective than competitors in creating, delivering, and communicating customer value to its selected target customers. The marketing concept rests on four pillars:  target market, customer needs, integrated marketing and profitability.

The marketing concept and the selling concepts are two extreme concepts and totally different from each other.

Distinctions between the Sales Concept and the Marketing Concept:

  1. The Sales Concept focuses on the needs of the seller. The Marketing Concept focuses on the needs of the buyer.
  2. The Sales Concept is preoccupied with the seller’s need to convert his/her product into cash. The Marketing Concept is preoccupied with the idea of satisfying the needs of the customer by means of the product as a solution to the customer’s problem (needs).
  3. The Marketing Concept represents the major change in today’s company orientation that provides the foundation to achieve competitive advantage. This philosophy is the foundation of consultative selling.
  4. The Marketing Concept has evolved into a fifth and more refined company orientation namely: – The Societal Marketing Concept. This concept is more theoretical and will undoubtedly influence future forms of marketing and selling approaches.

The Societal Marketing Concept: This concept holds that the organization’s task is to determine the needs, wants, and interests of target markets and to deliver the desired satisfactions more effectively and efficiently than competitors (this is the original Marketing Concept). Additionally, it holds that this all must be done in a way that preserves or enhances the consumer’s and the society’s well-being. It calls for sustainable marketing, socially and environmentally responsible marketing that meets the present needs of consumers and businesses while also preserving or enhancing the ability of future generations to meet their needs. The Societal Marketing Concept puts the human welfare on top before profits and satisfying the wants.

This concept arose as some questioned whether the Marketing Concept is an appropriate philosophy in an age of environmental deterioration, resource shortages, explosive population growth, world hunger and poverty, and neglected social services.

Are companies that do an excellent job of satisfying consumer wants necessarily acting in the best long run interests of consumers and society?

The marketing concept possibly sidesteps the potential conflicts among consumer wants, consumer interests, and long run societal welfare.

The global warming panic button is pushed and a revelation is required in the way we use our resources. So companies are slowly either fully or partially trying to implement the societal marketing concept.