Monday, August 18, 2014

Principles of Marketing - Marketing Environment

MARKETING ENVIRONMENT
A variety of environmental forces influence a company’s marketing system. Some of them are controllable while some others are uncontrollable. It is the responsibility of the marketing manager to change the company’s policies along with the changing environment.
According to Philip Kotler, “A company’s marketing environment consists of the internal factors & forces, which affect the company’s ability to develop & maintain successful transactions & relationships with the company’s target customers”.
The Environmental Factors may be classified as:

1.       Internal Factor
2.       External Factor
External Factors may be further classified into:
a)      External Micro Factors &
b)      External Macro Factors

1. Internal Environmental Factors: A Company’s marketing system is influenced by its capabilities regarding production, financial & other factors. Hence, the marketing management/manager must take into consideration these departments before finalizing marketing decisions. The Research & Development Department, the Personnel Department, the Accounting Department also have an impact on the Marketing Department. It is the responsibility of a manager to company-ordinate all department by setting up unified objectives.

2.(a)External Micro Factors: Some of the important external micro factors are:
1.       Suppliers: They are the people who provide necessary resources needed to produce goods & services. Policies of the suppliers have a significant influence over the marketing manager’s decisions because, it is laborers, etc. A company must build cordial & long-term relationship with suppliers.
2.       Marketing Intermediaries: They are the people who assist the flow of products from the producers to the consumers; they include wholesalers, retailers, agents, etc. These people create place & time utility. A company must select an effective chain of middlemen, so as to make the goods reach the market in time. The middlemen give necessary information to the manufacturers about the market. If a company does not satisfy the middlemen, they neglect its products & may push the competitor’s product.
3.       Consumers: The main aim of production is to meet the demands of the consumers. Hence, the consumers are the center point of all marketing activities. If they are not taken into consideration, before taking the decisions, the company is bound to fail in achieving its objectives. A company’s marketing strategy is influenced by its target consumer. Eg: If a manufacturer wants to sell to the wholesaler, he may directly sell to them, if he wants to sell to another manufacturer, he may sell through his agent or if he wants to sell to ultimate consumer he may sell through wholesalers or retailers. Hence each type of consumer has a unique feature, which influences a company’s marketing decision.
4.       Competitors: A prudent marketing manager has to be in constant touch regarding the information relating to the competitor’s strategies. He has to identify his competitor’s strategies, build his plans to overtake them in the market to attract competitor’s consumers towards his products. Any company faces three types of competition:
a)      Brand Competition: It is a competition between various companies producing similar products. Eg: The competition between BPL & Videcon companies.
b)      The Product Form Competition: It is a competition between companies manufacturing products, which are substitutes to each other Eg: Competition between coffee & Tea.
c)       The Desire Competition: It is the competition with all other companies to attract consumers towards the company. Eg: The competition between the manufacturers of TV sets & all other companies manufacturing various products like automobiles, washing machines, etc.
Hence, to understand the competitive situation, a company must understand the nature of market & the nature of customers. Nature of the market may be as follows:
                    I.            Perfect Market
                  II.            Oligopoly
                III.            Monopoly
                IV.            Monopolistic Market
                  V.            Duopoly

5.       Public: A Company’s obligation is not only to meet the requirements of its customers, but also to satisfy the various groups. A public is defined as “any group that has an actual or potential ability to achieve its objectives”. The significance of the influence of the public on the company can be understood by the fact that almost all companies maintain a public relation department. A positive interaction with the public increase its goodwill irrespective of the nature of the public. A company has to maintain cordial relation with all groups, public may or may not be interested in the company, but the company must be interested in the views of the public.
Public may be various types. They are:
a.       Press: This is one of the most important group, which may make or break a company. It includes journalists, radio, television, etc. Press people are often referred to as unwelcome public. A marketing manager must always strive to get a positive coverage from the press people.
b.      Financial Public: These are the institutions, which supply money to the company. Eg: Banks, insurance companies, stock exchange, etc. A company cannot work without the assistance of these institutions. It has to give necessary information to these public whenever demanded to ensure that timely finance is supplied.
c.       Government: Politicians often interfere in the business for the welfare of the society & for other reasons. A prudent manager has to maintain good relation with all politicians irrespective of their party affiliations. If any law is to be passed, which is against the interest of the company, he may get their support to stop that law from being passed in the parliament or legislature.
d.      General Public: This includes organisations such as consumer councils, environmentalists, etc. as the present day concept of marketing deals with social welfare, a company must satisfy these groups to be successful.

2.(b) External Macro Environment: These are the factors/forces on which the company has no control. Hence, it has to frame its policies within the limits set by these forces:
1.       Demography: It is defined as the statistical study of the human population & its distribution. This is one of the most influencing factors because it deals with the people who form the market. A company should study the population, its distribution, age composition, etc before deciding the marketing strategies. Each group of population behaves differently depending upon various factors such as age, status, etc. if these factors are considered, a company can produce only those products which suits the requirement of the consumers. In this regard, it is said that “to understand the market you must understand its demography”.
2.       Economic Environment: A company can successfully sell its products only when people have enough money to spend. The economic environment affects a consumer’s purchasing behavior either by increasing his disposable income or by reducing it. Eg: During the time of inflation, the value of money comes down. Hence, it is difficult for them to purchase more products. Income of the consumer must also be taken into account. Eg: In a market where both husband & wife work, their purchasing power will be more. Hence, companies may sell their products quite easily.
3.       Physical Environment or Natural Forces: A company has to adopt its policies within the limits set by nature. A man can improve the nature but cannot find an alternative for it.
Nature offers resources, but in a limited manner. A product manager utilizes it efficiently. Companies must find the best combination of production for the sake of efficient utilization of the available resources. Otherwise, they may face acute shortage of resources. Eg: Petroleum products, power, water, etc.
4.       Technological Factors: From customer’s point of view, improvement in technology means improvement in the standard of living. In this regard, it is said that “Technologies shape a Person’s Life”.
Every new invention builds a new market & a new group of customers. A new technology improves our lifestyle & at the same time creates many problems. Eg: Invention of various consumer comforts like washing machines, mixers, etc have resulted in improving our lifestyle but it has created severe problems like power shortage.
5.       Social & Cultural Factors: Most of us purchase because of the influence of social & cultural factors. The lifestyle, values, believes, etc are determined among other things by the society in which we live. Each society has its own culture. Culture is a combination of various factors which are transferred from older generations & which are acquired. Our behaviour is guided by our culture, family, educational institutions, languages, etc.
The society is a combination of various groups with different cultures & subcultures. Each society has its own behavior. A marketing manager must study the society in which he operates.
Consumer’s attitude is also affected by their society within a society, there will be various small groups, each having its own culture.
Eg: In India, we have different cultural groups such as Assamese, Punjabis, Kashmiris, etc. The marketing manager should take note of these differences before finalizing the marketing strategies. Culture changes over a period of time. He must try to anticipate the changes new marketing opportunities.

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