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Three Levels of Marketing Performance
We need to distinguish three levels of marketing performance, which can be called responsive marketing, anticipative marketing, and need-shaping marketing.

RESPONSIVE MARKETING. Marketing has been defined as the task of "finding and filling needs." This is a commendable form of marketing when there exists a clear need and when some company has identified it and prepared an affordable solution. Recognizing that women want to spend less time cooking and cleaning led to the invention of the modern washing machine, dryer, dishwasher, and microwave oven. Today many smokers who want to stop smoking can find various treatments. Much of today's marketing is responsive marketing.

ANTICIPATIVE MARKETING. It is another feat to recognize an emerging or latent need. As the quality of water deteriorated in many places, Evian, Perrier, and a number of other companies anticipated a growing market for bottled drinking water. As pharmaceutical companies recognized the growing stress in modem urban society, several started research on antistress drugs. Anticipative marketing is more risky than responsive marketing; companies may come into the market too early or too late, or may even be totally wrong about thinking that such a market would develop.

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NEED-SHAPING MARKETING. The boldest level of marketing occurs when a company introduces a product or service that nobody asked for and often could not even conceive of. No one in the 1950s asked for a Sony Walkman, a Sony Betamax, or a Sony 31/2-inch disc. Yet Sony, under its brilliant founder and chairman, Akio Morita, introduced those and many other new products that since have become everyday staples. Morita summarized his marketing philosophy in these words: "I don't serve markets. I create them."

Perhaps the difference between responsive marketers and those who anticipate or shape needs is best summarized in the difference between a market-driven company and a market'driving company. Most companies are at best market-driven, which itself is an advance over being product-driven. Market-driven companies focus on researching current customers to identify their problems, gather new ideas, and to test proposed product improvements and marketing mix changes. Their efforts typically result in incremental improvements, not radical innovations.

Phillip Kotler, Kotler on Marketing, Free Press. You can obtain this excellent book here

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