Marketing is the performance of those business activities that direct the flow of goods and services from producers to consumers or users.
1. Marketing Research
Marketing research involves collection and analysis of facts relevant to various aspects of marketing. It is a process of collecting and analysing information regarding customer needs and buying habits, the nature of competition in the market, prevailing prices, distribution network, effectiveness of advertising media, etc.
Marketing research gathers, records and analyses facts for arriving at rational decisions and developing suitable marketing strategies.
2. Product Planning and Development
Marketing starts much before the actual production. The marketeers gather information regarding what are the needs of the consumers and then decide upon what to produce. So, the task of marketing begins with planning and designing a product for the consumers. It can also be done while modifying and improving an already existing product.
For example, now-a-days we find much better soaps and detergent powders than we used to get earlier. Similarly, we have many new products introduced almost on a regular basis.
3. Buying and Assembling
Buying and assembling activities as a part of marketing refer to buying and collection of required goods for resale. This function of marketing is primarily relevant to those business organisations that are engaged in trading activities. In the context of manufacturing organisations, buying and assembling involves buying raw materials and components required for production of finished goods.
Packaging involves putting the goods in attractive packets according to the convenience of consumers. Important considerations to be kept in view in this connection are the size of the package and the type of packaging material used. Goods may be packaged in bottles (plastic or glass), boxes (made of tin, glass, paper, plastic), cans or bags.
The size of the package generally varies from a few grams to a few kilograms, one piece to a number of pieces of a product, or in any other suitable quantity in terms of weight, count, length, etc. Packaging is also used as a promotional tool as suitable and attractive packages influences the demand of the products. It may be noted that packaging is different from packing, which refers to putting goods in suitable containers for transportation purposes.
5. Standardisation and Grading
Standardisation refers to development of standards for production of goods with respect to shape, design, colour and other characteristics. If products are standardised, customers are able to identify a product and its characteristics very well. So goods can be sold by sample or description. Standardisation helps in promoting the sale of the product by increasing consumers’ confidence in the product quality.
Grading involves separating products into different classes on the basis of certain predetermined standards relating to size and quality. Grading is required in case of agricultural, forest and mineral products such as cotton, sugar cane, iron ore, coal, timber, etc.
Branding means giving an attractive name, symbol or identity mark to the product to make a product different from others so that it is known by that name or symbol or mark. For example, Surf is the brand name of a detergent powder produced by Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL). Similarly, you must be familiar with brands like Colgate for toothpaste, Lux for soap and so on.
7. Pricing the Product
Pricing involves decisions regarding fixation of product prices, keeping in view the product costs, the capacity of customers to pay, and the prices of the competitive products. It is an important decision as it influences the sales and so also the profits. So pricing has to be done very carefully.
8. Promotion of the Product
Promotional activities include advertising, personal selling, sales promotion and publicity. All promotional activities involve communication with the existing and prospective customers whereby they are made aware of the product, its distinctive features, price, availability etc. The objective of promotional activities is to motivate the customers to buy the product.
Distribution refers to those activities that are undertaken for sale of products to the customers and the physical transfer thereof. The first aspect i.e., sale of product involves use of middlemen such as wholesalers and retailers whose services are used for making the products available at convenient points and helping in their sale to the ultimate consumers.
The second aspect i.e., physical transfer involves warehousing and transportation of goods from the point of production to the point of sale or the consumer. The objective of distribution activities is to ensure that consumers get the goods and services at the place and time most convenient to them and in the desired quantity.
Selling is an important function of marketing whereby the ownership of goods and services is transferred from the seller to the buyer for a consideration known as price. To initiate and complete the process of selling, the seller has to inform the prospective buyer about availability of goods, the nature and uses of products, their prices and the needs of the customers that may be effectively satisfied by the product.
In the process, he arouses customers’ interest in the product and persuades them to buy it.
11. Storage and Warehousing
Storage refers to holding and preserving goods from the time of their procurement or production till the time of their sale. In other words storage involves making suitable arrangements for preserving the goods till they are bought by the consumers and delivered to them.
Warehousing is synonymous to storage but is normally used for large-scale storage facility for goods and commodities. You must have seen cold store where vegetables like tomato, cabbage, potato, etc. are stored to be consumed throughout the year. In marketing it is essential to store raw material and finished goods to be used later by the company for production or for resale.
Transportation refers to the physical movement of goods from one place to another. In marketing, transport as an activity refers to physical movement of raw materials as well as finished goods from the place of production to place of consumption.
Goods are transported through various means like railways, roadways, waterways and airways. For heavy and bulky goods, the railways and waterways are the best. For other goods, it depends upon the demand, cost involved, urgency, nature of the goods, etc. to decide about a suitable means of transportation.