The role of marketing in trade – A history

Marketing as we know it today is strongly linked to strategy and technology.  But it has no always been this way.  Let´s go over how marketing in trade has evolved from simple attempts to sell goods to the powerful network it is today.

The concept of marketing

The concept or idea of marketing is probably as old as civilization.  It is thought that it started with attempts to present goods in a certain way for trading.  The persuasive communications to sell goods was a concept have been around since the times of ancient India and China.

The concept of marketing as we know it today began during the Industrial Revolution.  It was during this time that it became easier for consumers to buy products than to make them themselves. This created the necessity of finding ways to manufacture in a more efficient way to meet demand.

Five eras of development

To better understand the evolution of marketing in trade, we will split it into some eras.  Now, to be clear, this is probably not the best way of parting marketing history as it might be oversimplified.  However, it will work fine for the purpose of this article.

Simple trade era

This is the time in which production was limited and everything was in limited supply.  Basically, if you needed something, you just make it yourself.  We will assume that this time lasted from the beginning of civilization to the middle of the 19th century.

Production era

The production era immediately replaced the simple trade era with the Industrial Revolution.  The marketplace began to bloom as massive amounts of products were made available to the public.  There was high demand for market products so new methods to meet this demand had to be created.  It is important to point out here that, during this time, very few alternative product options were available.  So pretty much the concept of competition was unknown.  This era lasted between the 1860s to the 1920s.

Sales era

This short-lived era (1920s – 1940s) was that time in which companies realized that they were not able to sell everything they produced so easily.   Consequently, competition increased.  Products now became commodities and companies had to tap on price as a competitive advantage.

Marketing department era

After World War II, companies realized that sales techniques of the past were no longer resonating with consumers.  This era, which lasted from the 1940s to the 1960s, was characterized by Western manufacturing firms realizing that marketing is the reason why they exist.

Marketing company era

Once the concept of marketing was widely accepted, the marketing company era began. This concept sustains that businesses exist to address consumer needs.  The customer became king and everyone in the company became part of the marketing effort.

Some experts believe there is a sixth era known as the relationship marketing era, meaning that it is not the fifth era the one in play right now.  The goal now is to build a mutually-beneficial relationship with the customer.  This is one of the concepts over which great marketing companies such as Curve Communications work with.  Every organization is unique and so is their marketing approach.