Good Essay About Consumer Involvement In Marketing
As is safe to assume in most cases, consumers are central to the ongoing process of marketing and selling. However, the relationship in play is not a simple one. Whether it be consumers not being sure of what they want, not being aware of what is on the horizon or perhaps wanting something that is counterproductive or even harmful, it is the job of a consummate marketing professional to know where technology is headed, where the market is headed and how to market properly in light of those factors being what they are. While marketing is very much about giving the customer what they want and when they want it, there are other factors that could and should be taken into consideration.
When it comes to marketing and demanding high price points, there are few firms that do it better than Apple. They have a superb and self-perpetuating business model, they get high markups on what they sell and they have a ton of free cash to invest and wield. One would think that they dare not go against the common wisdom and preferences of their marketplace. They usually do not but that seemed to have changed recently when it was announced that the iPod Classic would be cancelled. This would seem to be less than wise given that the iPod Classic has file/MP3 capacities that far exceed the Touch or Nano. Further, they executed this cancellation quite quietly. This would seem counter to the rather open nature of Apple’s product announcement, albeit in a measured and scheduled way. However, Apple doing this is not surprising when taking several factors into account. First, the iPod Touch and Android phones have steadily become multi-purpose devices. Just like smartphones have starting replacing people having separate cameras for taking pictures, much the same thing is happening with smartphones and music. Whether it be storing the music files on the phone itself or using streaming services Spotify and Pandora. Even so, there are many Apple faithful or pundits that have decried a choice that seems to go against the preferences of many customers. That being said, the sales of the iPod Classic were trailing off significantly so something had to be done (C-Net, 2014).
Such is the world of marketing. Consumers are obviously central to marketing and getting sales. However, not all consumers think the same and some are actually thinking against the trends. As such, marketing is about marketing to the most people possible within the target markets and finding a way to perhaps push people into the right directions. Taking things a step further, just as the MP3 replaced the CD as the dominant way to received and enjoy music, much the same thing seems to be starting with streaming replacing the MP3. This would explain the lesser use of the Classic and higher use of the regular smartphone to listen to music. If music files can be accessed and played at any time without storing the MP3 on the phone itself, then iPods like the Classic are not really needed. There will of course be those hangers-on that feel that current technology is all well and good. However, there are resale and used goods markets for that sort of thing (C-Net, 2014).
The question to be answered within this report is to what extent consumers are central to the marketing process. They obviously have the most important place in the process but the question of how much of an extent is proper and expected is a legitimate and reasonable one to ask. Consumers that fit the target market for a product or service should obviously be the focal point of marketing decisions and activities. However, letting the proverbial inmates run the asylum is not the way to go either. What this means is that while consumer preferences are usually paramount, there still needs to be a focus on future products, future technologies, what is possible, what is not possible and so forth. Using the Apple example above, streaming is obviously the coming technology. Further, the Classic is fading as a viable and self-sufficient product. As such, Apple is being proactive. Netflix did much the same thing when they raised their prices on DVD/Blu-Ray rentals as compared to those that just streamed movies. There was a caustic uproar when they did that. It went so far as to say that charging a mere four bucks more a month was unfair and improper. However, Netflix surely saw the writing on the wall and knew that physical media is starting to make its way out. Sure, there are still going to be physical DVD’s, Blu-Rays and kiosks such as Redbox (Wingfield, 2015). However, Netflix knew that streaming would become more of the norm than relying on physical media and the price hike on shipping physical disks was surely a way for them to “nudge” people towards streaming (Gilbert, 2015).
So if one were to have things as a matter of percentage as it relates to how much of a say consumers do or should have in the marketing process, it should be roughly fifty, twenty-five and twenty-five. Fifty percent is the consumer preference, whatever that may be. Twenty-five percent should be the legal and regulatory limitations and the other twenty-five percent should be the emerging trends that are starting to emerge. Rather than just focusing on what the consumers want, the marketing personnel and executives central to any product need to make sure that they are finding a target market, that they are giving them what they want, that they are doing so in a legal manner and that the emerging trends are accounted and planned for (Kjerulf, 2015).
The inverse to the assertions above is that firms need to be careful that they do not guess or project the wrong outcomes or force something on a market that they cannot or will not accept. For example, one could look to Netflix yet again. Many asserted that their price hike on physical discs was wrong. They were in fact not wrong. However, one company that was extremely incorrect was Blockbuster. Blockbuster had a sterling chance to see new technology and market chances coming. Netflix was on the ascendancy along with the rest of the streaming market (e.g. Amazon Instant Video, etc.) and Blockbuster was offered a chancetwiceto buy Netflix. They said “no” both times and now they are gone as a brick and mortar store. A retail or service company failing is nothing new. Montgomery Ward’s, Circuit City and others are perfect examples. There are other current firms that are barely hanging on like Radio Shack, JC Penney and K-Mart/Sears. Trying to forge a new path is one thing. However, trying to forge a path that does not have a legitimate marketing channel is a huge miscue. Blockbuster could be a giant today if they made the right choice but they are now obsolete. The video store as a business model is not dead as some regional players still do exist. However, that business model is definitely dying. Streaming is now dominant and the kiosks or resale markets (e.g Redbox, eBay, etc.) are the second banana now (NRF, 2015).
Knowing where the market will go and knowing where it could go is not the same thing. Blockbuster might not have realized what they could do with Netflix but they could and should have. If they were given the same question a year or two before, then perhaps it would be a lot cloudier. Regardless, Blockbuster should have known years ago that the brick and mortar video store was no longer viable on a national level. Just because a market technically exists does not it would be profitable. This is exactly why Apple cancelled the iPod Classic. It is true that some consumers complained but the decision to cancel the Classic was the right one. Even if Blockbuster was not smitten with Netflix (and they should have been), they had to do something but their fledgling streaming service was not the answer (Olivier, 2015; Apple, 2015).
The point is that consumers need to be the guiding voice most of the time. However, this should not be the case all of the time. Sometimes consumers cannot see the big picture. However, there is a potential minefield that comes with trying to nudge consumers in a different direction. It often comes down to a matter of opinion. The newer 4k televisions are a good example. Many pundits and scientists insist that the technology is not necessary as an upgrade to the 1080p standard because the human eye cannot usually tell the difference. However, a cursory glance at Amazon reviews would seem to indicate otherwise. Something is right and someone is not right. There is either a reason to upgrade due to better performance or viewing pleasure or there is not. The rub is that many marketers will exploit these perceptions and try to sell a good anyway. Some react by snapping up the latest and greatest while others think they are being conned and will stick to what they know and love. To be specific, some people may want to get a 4k television while others may feel just fine with a 1080p. Markets can cater to both interests by selling decked out 4k televisions to audio and video nuts while also selling price-conscious 1080p televisions to the other people. Beyond that, there are budget-minded people that are fine with a 720p television (Morrison, 2012).
If there is a proper path forward to make the most of the market or markets that exist for a good or service, it would look like this. The mindset and the desires of the consumer should be asked for and listened to. These opinions could come from focus groups, surveys, customer reviews on sites like Yelp, Amazon, etc. and so forth. These wish lists, desires and preferences should be compared to the business models that are possible, the future of the products or services in question, the legal issues involved, the ethical issues involved, the regulatory issues involved and so forth. Just because a customer wants something does not mean it is commercially viable over the long-term, if at all. There is always going to be a churn of products and services whereby they have to be changed and shaped to keep them current and in-demand. The question becomes whether there is financial and market-based justification for any changes that will be done. If there is a proper framework and possibility structure, then such changes should at least be explored. However, if there is not a good possibility there, then it should be jettisoned as an optionat least for now (CMO, 2015; Libert, 2015).
Many people like to blindly parrot the motto “the customer is always right”. That is tripe and any reasonable person knows that. Sometimes, what the customer wants is short-sighted, unreasonable, unrealistic and absent-minded. However, the customer are the ones that vote with their wallet and they do indeed need to be the focal point of marketing strategies. However, it cannot be the only piece to the puzzle as there are other considerations that must be taken into complete and serious account. For each situation and product, there has to be a complete picture taken and the right path should then be figured out and committed to.
Apple, (2015). Apple. [online] Apple. Available at: http://www.apple.com [Accessed 4 Mar. 2015].
CMO, (2015). 10 Consumer Megatrends That Will Impact Your Marketing Strategy. [online] Cmo.com. Available at: http://www.cmo.com/slide-shows/10-consumer-megatrends-that-will-impact-your-marketing-strategy.html [Accessed 4 Mar. 2015].
CNET, (2014). Apple says a silent goodbye to iPod classic - CNET. [online] Available at: http://www.cnet.com/news/apple-says-goodbye-to-the-ipod-classic/ [Accessed 4 Mar. 2015].
Elenstar, J. (2015). Nordstrom Exec: Evolve or die. [online] NRF. Available at: https://nrf.com/news/nordstrom-exec-evolve-or-die [Accessed 4 Mar. 2015].
Gilbert, J. (2015). One Year Ago Today, Netflix Announced Its Infamous Price Hike. [online] The Huffington Post. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/12/netflix-price-hike-anniversary_n_1668382.html [Accessed 4 Mar. 2015].
Kjerulf, A. (2015). Top 5 Reasons Why 'The Customer Is Always Right' Is Wrong. [online] The Huffington Post. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alexander-kjerulf/top-5-reasons-customer-service_b_5145636.html [Accessed 4 Mar. 2015].
Libert, K. (2015). 4 Digital Marketing Strategy Studies: Formats, Trends, Influencers & Engagement. [online] Marketing Land. Available at: http://marketingland.com/4-digital-marketing-strategy-studies-formats-trends-influencers-engagement-116383 [Accessed 4 Mar. 2015].
Morrison, G. (2012). Why 4K TVs are stupid (still) - CNET. [online] CNET. Available at: http://www.cnet.com/news/why-4k-tvs-are-stupid-still/ [Accessed 4 Mar. 2015].
Olivier, S. (2015). 2015 Predictions: What Will Shake Up the Consumer Goods and Retail Industry?. [online] Apparel.edgl.com. Available at: http://apparel.edgl.com/news/2015-Predictions--What-Will-Shake-Up-the-Consumer-Goods-and-Retail-Industry-97514 [Accessed 4 Mar. 2015].
Wingfield, N. (2015). Coinstar Ventures Beyond Its Redbox Success. [online] Nytimes.com. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/18/business/coinstar-ventures-beyond-its-redbox-success.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 [Accessed 4 Mar. 2015].
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