What Is Marketing?

Definition of marketing

We are all consumers and as consumers, we are the target of businesses and organisations keen to engage our interests in their product or service. The notion of marketing is not new, with Hollander, et al (2005) suggesting that the concept can be traced back as far as the markets of ancient Greece.
As Varadarajan (2010) observes, various definitions have been offered to describe the act of marketing. Although the definition may have been refined since the concept was first formally proposed in 1935 (Gundlach, 2007) most authors agree the definition should include a set of activities which take place to make an object or service appealing to consumers.

While, a formal definition may have existed for only a short historical period, the aims and concepts of marketing have varied little since ancient Greece with an aim of identifying, anticipating and satisfying consumers to generate profit (CIM, 2009).

Functions of marketing

But as Kotler and Armstrong (2014, pp.27) remark, marketing should not be considered as just a transaction between two parties and as more of a series of functions which build and strengthen ongoing relationships.

Walter, Ritter and Gemünden (2001) recognise seven functions of selling first identified in the early 1920’s as: product, distribution, selling, marketing, financing, pricing and promotion. These functions can be combined to form a marketing strategy.

While these functions cover many of the key concepts of how to market, culminating in a successful transaction, Grönroos (1997) observes the shift in marketing function from the mechanics of ensuring a transaction towards building a sustainable long term relationship with a customer.
Indeed, Moncrief and Marshall (2005) further refine the evolution of the seven functions and propose seven new functions with a focus on “relationship selling”. Consider the example of the Apple product range. While there is no denying that Apple products are high quality, well designed and intuitive, there is significant competition from other brands such as Samsung. Despite competition, Apple continues to retain a significant market share due to the loyalty associated with the brand (Brakus, Schmitt and Zarantonello, 2009). Apple has successfully developed a long term relationship with its customers.

My definition

As I have progressed through this Masters programme, the one common element shared by technology implementation, business practices and processes and most recently in the act of marketing, is the human element. As Anderson (2013) states, “people do business with people they like”, so marketing is surely a way of building and developing successful people to people relationships? My definition of marketing therefore focuses primarily on this human function of marketing:
Marketing is the act of connecting people with people to form relationships that create value and benefit for both parties.


Anderson, A. (2013) People Do Business With People They Like. [Online]. Available from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/amyanderson/2013/06/28/people-do-business-with-people-they-like/ (Accessed: 18 January 2014).

Brakus, J., Schmitt, B. & Zarantonello, L. (2009) ‘Brand Experience: What is it? How is it Measured? Does it Affect Loyalty?’, Journal of Marketing, 73(3), pp. 52-68, SSRN. [Online]. Available from: http://papers.ssrn.com.ezproxy.liv.ac.uk/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1960358 (Accessed: 18 January 2014).

Chartered Institute of Marketing (2009) Marketing and the 7Ps: A brief summary of marketing and how it works. [Online]. Available from: http://www.cim.co.uk/files/7ps.pdf (Accessed: 17 January 2014).

Grönroos, C. (1994) ‘From marketing mix to relationship marketing – towards a paradigm shift in marketing’, Asia-Australia Marketing Journal, 2(1), Emerald. [Online]. Available from: http://www.emeraldinsight.com.ezproxy.liv.ac.uk/case_studies.htm/case_studies.htm?articleid=1501845&show=html (Accessed: 18 January 2014).

Gundlach, G. (2007) ‘The American Marketing Association’s 2004 Definition of Marketing: Perspectives on Its Implications for Scholarship and the Role and Responsibility of Marketing in Society’, Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 26(2), pp. 243-250, Ebscohost. [Online]. Available from: http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.liv.ac.uk/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bth&AN=27150520&site=eds-live&scope=site (Accessed: 16 January 2014).

Hollander, S., Rassuli, K., Jones, B. & Dix, L. (2005) ‘Periodization in Marketing History’, Journal of Macromarketing, 25(1), pp. 32-41, Sage Publishing. [Online]. Available from: http://jmk.sagepub.com.ezproxy.liv.ac.uk/content/25/1/32.full.pdf+html (Accessed: 17 January 2014).

Kotler, P. & Armstrong, G. (2014) Principles of Marketing, 15th Edition. London: Pearson Education Ltd.

Moncrief, W. & Marshall, G. (2005) ‘The evolution of the seven steps of selling’, Industrial Marketing Management, 34(1), pp.13-22, ScienceDirect. [Online]. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com.ezproxy.liv.ac.uk/science/article/pii/S0019850104000525 (Accessed: 18 January 2014).

Varadarajan, R. (2010) ‘Strategic marketing and marketing strategy: domain, definition, fundamental issues and foundational premises’, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 38(2), pp. 119-140, SpringerLink. [Online]. Available from: http://link.springer.com.ezproxy.liv.ac.uk/article/10.1007/s11747-009-0176-7/fulltext.html (Accessed: 16 January 2014).

Walter, A., Ritter, T. & Gemünden, H. (2001) ‘Value Creation in Buyer–Seller Relationships: Theoretical Considerations and Empirical Results from a Supplier’s Perspective’, Industrial Marketing Management, 30(4), pp. 365–377, ScienceDirect. [Online]. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com.ezproxy.liv.ac.uk/science/article/pii/S0019850101001560 (Accessed: 18 January 2014).


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