The modern concept of marketing was born in the mass-production era through pioneering industrial entrepreneurs. From that point on, marketing has not stopped evolving and growing. As we enter the digital age, RYZA is looking back on the evolution of marketing to see how far we have come and how the marketing philosophies of today are still rooted in methods and developments from the industrial era.

The Mass-Production Era

Although it can be argued that as long as people have been selling things there has been marketing, marketing as we recognise it today was born in the mass-production era between the 1860s and 1920s. Through the advancements in transportation and technologies, businesses needed to modernise their movement of goods. The modernisation process began during the Industrial Revolution and directed the development of more-efficient work principles. The mass-production of low-cost goods was a seismic shift from traditional artisan production. During this period businesses were most focussed on manufacturing and believed that if someone was producing a product, someone else would want to buy it.


The Sales Era

As the market continued to deregulate it became more saturated and competition increased between businesses. The sales era began in the 1920s, during the largest economic downturn in the western world. Because of the economic difficulties, this era saw the largest effort to push sales and create new marketing and sales techniques. The period oversaw the birth of the salesman and persuasion marketing. Although, as output surpassed demand businesses became too preoccupied with price and forgot about fulfilling the needs of their customers.

The Marketing Era

The 1950s onward became recognised as the era when marketers began to take control. Businesses began to realise that it was less about forcing their products on consumers, but evaluating what people wanted them to sell. With increased customer research came an increased range of products to meet the consumer’s needs. Marketing departments and companies were at the forefront of this development. Through strategic empowerment, marketers became involved in pricing strategies, production and distribution channels.

Relationship Marketing Era

From the 1990s businesses had all embraced the concepts of the marketing era—the customer was now king. During the relationship marketing era, the focus was not just on building good relationships with customers but also on developing long-term relationships to encourage repeat custom. Marketing authorities like Philip Kolter and Don Peppers were at the forefront of the development of customer experience.

The Social Marketing Era

The social marketing era is difficult to define. It develops the principles of the relationship marketing era and was the beginning of customer focussed campaigning. During this period businesses began to embrace the benefits of placing the customer at the centre of their organisations and focus all their efforts on customer satisfaction. Through the drastic improvements in technologies, businesses were able to communicate with their prospective customers in real-time.

The Digital Age and the Future

With the increasing growth of technologies and the consumer’s increasing dependence on them, marketing is migrating to the online world. Yet, the strategies businesses use still share similarities to those from the 1920s. Traditional marketing methods will persist, but the digital age brings new possibilities of reaching an ever-changing market.

UNCTAD estimates that the e-commerce market is now worth $22.1 trillion. This is a significant growth from just 2010. For B2C organisations to succeed in the digital age it’s essential to embrace e-commerce. Prospective customers can now compare multiple stores, in seconds, from home. Customers can also compare stores on their mobile phones. With 80% of internet users now browsing on their mobile phones, the digital world is on the move. To respond, businesses must ensure their content is mobile compatible.

Also, with on-the-go data usage, the attention spans of businesses’ prospective customers have been reduced. People expect their information in 140 characters or less and businesses must adapt. Marketers now have a much heavier design role. Visual information is processed much faster than written content, so businesses must embrace online tools like YouTube and Instagram to reach their customers. Video marketing is no longer an extravagance, it is a must. With a continuous stream of videos accessible in our pockets through social media platforms like Snapchat and Facebook Live, video has become one of the most sought-after mediums of content. From creating promotional materials or behind-the-scenes content, video is a powerful tool that prospective customers have come to expect from businesses.

Likewise, for businesses to exploit this they must be on social media. 78% of people now have at least one social media account and 74% of people use social media to make a buying decision, with the rate continuing to increase. Social media takes the social marketing era to the next-level and allows businesses to engage with their audiences directly. It also offers premium advertising space, with companies like Facebook allowing businesses to target their ads to specific audiences.

Consider how much marketing has evolved. As technologies continue to improve, marketing will continue to adapt. To succeed businesses must keep-up and adapt also, or risk being left behind.