The History of the Marketing Concept

Aspects of modern marketing could be found in the practices of early traders and the bazaars of the Middle East…. traders in pre-Hellenic Greece displayed admirable customer focus, and the medieval book trade espoused a range of marketing strategies including selective distribution, celebrity endorsement, sponsorship and test marketing. Marketing functions were manifest in early joint-stock companies such as the East India Company and the Hudson’s Bay Company. While historians, by and large, will view the formation of the East India Company as a British prelude to the eventual conquest of the Indian subcontinent, a modern marketing strategist could view the East India Company, a tad charitably perhaps, as a British tactic to enter new markets with the ultimate aim of becoming the undisputed market leader in Southeast Asia. Such a view has parallels in the last century, and the best example is the invasion and eventual domination of the U.S. consumer electronic market by the Japanese via a seemingly innocuous presence in Europe.

The point is that marketing is an ancient practice, and the intellectual study of marketing is also several centuries old. The distinctive contribution of the 20th Century was the introduction of the specialist marketer. Whether the earliest was Procter and Gamble’s first brand manager for Camay soap in 1926 is an open question; other brands were professionally managed before then. It was only in the last 100 years that businesses and academics have had to train specialist marketers. Accordingly, the trainers needed better to understand the nature and theory of marketing.

One marketing standard chronology (Bartels, 1974; Dawson, 1969; Keith, 1960; Kotler and Keller, 2006) subdivides marketing history as follows:

  • Production orientation era
  • Product orientation era
  • Sales orientation era
  • Market orientation era
  • Customer orientation
  • Relationship orientation
  • Social/mobile marketing orientation

Thus, we have entered the new millennium wherein marketing expertise & innovation is the key to surviving, let alone flourishing, in the more competitive, constantly changing & ever-expanding global economy…