The Origin of the Marketing Concept

After the second world war, in 1950, the service economy first employed more than 50 percent of the US population. Marketing’s modern origins as a normative management discipline emerged in the 1950s (Baker, 1999). Baker (1974, 1991) presented a broad treatment of marketing definitions which positions marketing as a hybrid management field intertwined from microeconomics, statistical mathematics and psychology. Brand Management has been couched by marketing management to a great extent.

In 1960 the American marketing Association (AMA) proposed a definition of a brand stressing primarily its logo and visual aspects with the main purpose of identification and differentiation.

“A name, term sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them, intended to identify the goods or services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of competitors.”

In the marketing world, a clear distinction appeared in the 60s between those who based their strategies in purely advertising and promotional techniques and those who believed as Theodore Levitt, that “marketing should be tied more closely to the inner orbit of business policy”. In this way in 1960, Levitt who was then a lecturer in business administration at the Harvard Business School, former editor of the Harvard Business Review and who later became head of the Marketing Area at Harvard, wrote the now classic article “Marketing Myopia”.

In this article Levitt claims that “Management must think of itself not as producing products but as providing custom-creating value satisfactions.” Levitt claims that firms that define their business myopically in product terms can stagnate even though the basic customer need they serve is enjoying healthy growth. His key contribution was based on defining the business in terms of the basic customer need rather than the product.

This contribution was very important, as in this way a company would inherently increase internal creativity and encourage the continuous creation of new strategic options. Or in Levitt’s words “what survival always entails, that is, changing.”

Already at that time, Levitt claimed that “what usually gets emphasized is selling”, while marketing “a more sophisticated and complex PROCESS, gets ignored.” and would often receive a “step child treatment”. This is one of the few contributions from that period not centered solely on advertising and communication as for him “the view that an industry is a customer-satisfying process, not a goods-producing process, is vital for all businessmen to understand… the entire corporation must be viewed as a customer-creating and customer-satisfying organism.

In a retrospective commentary published 15 years later, Levitt recognized that Peter Ferdinan Drucker, in “The concept of the corporation, 1946” and “The practice of management, 1954”, originally provided him with a great deal of insight. In his 1954 work Drucker placed marketing at the centre of the organization and proposed what became widely known as a marketing philosophy of business.

The following quote has been reproduced in hundreds of marketing texts and articles including Kotler, 1994; Doyle, 1995; Deshpande, 1999; etc. “Marketing is not only much broader than selling, it is not a specialized activity at all. It is the whole business seen from… the customer’s point of view (Drucker, 1954, pp. 35-6).

Hence, already by 1960, the need for a marketing process based on satisfying consumer needs rather than on selling a product, had already been identified. This was following the management and corporation concepts introduced by Peter Ferdinan Drucker in the mid 50s.

In line with this emerging “normative marketing ideology”, various marketing tools, concepts and frameworks were proposed in the following decades. These include the “Product Life Cycle (PLC) Theory” (Patten, 1959; Cox, 1967; Smallwood, 1973), Market Segmentation (Wendell R. Smith, 1956; Russel I. Haley, 1968; Plummer J.T., 1974) and the marketing mix which was first coined by Bordern, 1964 (McCarthy, 1981; Baker, 1995) and among various formulations of the marketing mix model the “Four Ps” (product, price, promotion, place) became widely utilized and popular for its simplicity.

Finally, in 1967, Philip Kotler, today recognized as one of the most influential authors in the field, published the now classic book: “Marketing Management: Analysis, Planning, and Control.”

In this book Kotler claims that “the marketing concept is a business philosophy that arose to challenge the previous concept (production and sales concepts). Although it has a long history, its central tenets did not fully crystallize until the mid 1950s’ (Kotler, 1967, p. 17).

He further defined marketing management as a “process” which consists of analyzing marketing opportunities, researching and selecting target markets, designing marketing strategies, planning marketing programmes, and organizing, implementing, and controlling the marketing effort.


The Origin of Branding read here

Branding during the Industrial Economy read here

The Origin of Brand Advertising read here

The Origin of Brand Management read here

The Origin of the Marketing Concept read here

Marketing Communication, Positioning and Differentiation read here

The 80s-90s and Brand Equity read here

New Trends in the early 2000’s read here

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Comments 10

  1. michael paschal

    I like it…….I am new students doing ba I economics and statistics….it is helpfull to me

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