Marketing is evolving, and you better believe it

Students of Marketing will be familiar with Kotler’s typology that identifies the transition from a product >>> sales >>> marketing orientation. That was a brilliant insight. He even foresaw the shift towards ‘societal' marketing:

1.      The production concept (World War eras)

2.      The product concept (Post WW2)

3.      The selling concept (1950s)

4.      The marketing concept (1960s onwards)

5.      The societal marketing concept (now)

The fundamental assumption of this schema is that marketing is something that marketers do and the consumers are subjected to. Oh, how things have changed.

Consider the diagram below to understand the evolution of marketing. (You won’t find this in a text book, so if you are an actual student, don’t reference this as an absolute given – it is my interpretation of how marketing is shifting.)


Mass Marketing

We are all familiar with the early years of mass communications (radio and TV and the advertising that accompanied that era.) In Australia I gather this is the era of Louis the Fly.

Target Marketing

The explosion of media including specialist magazines and local stations gave marketers the opportunity (or forced them) to became more sophisticated in choosing their channels and their messages.


Technology enabled real niche-marketing, which became viable because of global economies of scale. Entrepreneurs could start to leverage the long-tail opportunities.

Always-on Marketing

Ubiquitous marketing of the message was also enabled by technology. You could see the same message on any device, on any channel, inside and outside the home. (I think Tom Waterhouse marketing is a good example of this. J)

Contextual Marketing

Marketing that is embedded in the everyday experiences of people. This is become more prevalent in the online world (see this post), the emergence of The Internet of Things is going to make and break many marketers.

On-Demand Marketing

The march towards consumer empowerment finally culminates with the consumer being fully in charge. The only real ‘influence’ will be the social circle, and for the rest, the consumer will open themselves up to information about products as and when they need it.

The three key features of On-Demand Marketing are:

  • Now (in the present)
  • Simple (try 140 characters message or 9 sec video on Vine)
  • Personal


I am not suggesting for one minute that any organisation abandon TV/ Newspapers/Radio etc. Like with most things in life, the transition is a process that takes time and large numbers of people are still effectively reached via TV advertising. (You may reach me, but not my son, for example.)

What we need to do is to start the thinking processes to design our retail proposition to be future-proof. Unlike most other transitions, the final transition means that once you have lost out on the opportunity, you may have lost out permanently. The first-mover advantage will be enormous.

The starting point is to conduct a brand audit to really understand what it is AND how customers think about your business. This marketing evolution also drives home the point that you don't actually 'own' your brand - since your brand is what the customer thinks it is.

I would love to hear some stories in the comments about how you are already embracing these changes.

And a quick pop quiz: how many organisations are still stuck Stage 3 of Kotler’s hierarchy?


Future-proof your business with Ganador.

PS: I am preparing a presentation about these big picture shifts for a conference that I am doing for free, so I thought I will share the love around  if you are interested in that sort of thing. See HERE for those interested. (No strings, but limitations apply, so be quick.)

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