Difference between marketing and market orientation. Market-led strategies and Competitive Advantage.

The purpose of this essay is to discuss and critically analyse the differences between marketing and market orientation in a business context and demonstrate in what ways market-led strategies can help business drive growth and support competitive advantage. To support all these theoretical statements and arguments, a number of well-known USA, European and Far Eastern businesses examples are shown in this essay.
According to the British Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) marketing is the process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably. (Morris, 2012) Marketing adds value by building a positive brand image of the business company and its products in the minds of the customers. It also adds value by bringing to the company information about changing customer needs, expectations and preference that can be used to create user-friendly products. The American Express Company always use new media to stay in touch with its customers. The implementation of dialogue marketing helped them to make sure that the customer is heard, and helped to identify theirs needs and expectations. (Harter, 2007)
Market orientation is more than simply ‘getting close to the customer.’ An organisation can be market oriented only if it completely understands its market. Customer information must go beyond research and promotional functions to penetrate every organisational function. (Drysdale, 1999) In other words, market orientation relates to business approach or philosophy that concentrates on identifying and meeting the customers’ needs. In 2008, Audi car was announced as the best market-oriented company in the automotive industry. Product developments and customer service closely meet customer demand by making Audi a leader amongst other automotive companies. The strong market orientation, close collaboration between sales, marketing, research and development as well as closely related sales and service network lead to high customer satisfaction and loyalty. This has made the Audi brand number one of the world’s most successful manufacturers of quality cars. (Audi AG, 2008)
Being market-led is simply about putting the customer at the top of the management agenda. (Piercy, 1991) It is all about focus on the buyers and finding better solutions of doing what they value. A customer-driven focus should influence about everything that happens in marketing- from research and product development, to the choice of communication vehicles for staying in touch with the firm’s target audience. Procter & Gamble Company (P&G) is very well known for its consumer understanding; they interact with more than five million consumers every year. The thorough investigation in market research helped the company to identify opportunities for innovation and communicate with clients effectively. (Source: http://www.pg.com) To be successful nowadays, marketers must embrace the challenges of new media and try to connect with customers. Experimenting with the new does not translate to discarding the old. For example, the American Express advertising still stays on TV constantly as they want consumers to be in control of the storytelling by engaging advertising in different methods.
Superior performance comes from going to market better than competitors, not from marketing departments and publicity. The focus of going to market is choosing and managing a strategic pathway involving appropriate market choices, a robust and sustainable value proposition to customers, and a set of key relationships that underpin the value proposition. Also, long-term focus helps organisation to develop strategic plans that can go well for a three year cycle. By adopting a long-term focus, the firm can measure the growth, attempt to serve all customers, have an effective organisational performance in the market and implement new value added services as well as measure the success and satisfaction. (Drysdale, 1999)
Competitive advantage refers to an edge of superiority a firm enjoys over its competitors, emerging either from a powerful market position of from a unique internal competency. (Hoffman, 2007) Competitiveness is dynamic: an organisation’s competitive positioning may vary, sometimes radically and rapidly, as a result of external developments. Google Inc. operates in a very competitive atmosphere amongst Apple, Microsoft’s Bing, and Yahoo Search. However, Google has a superior infrastructure, powerful search engine, wide portfolio of services and tools which absolutely fulfil the criteria of being VRIN.
This essay discussed and analysed different authors’ standpoints and thoughts on marketing and market orientation as well as market-led strategies and competitive advantage within a business by providing some industry examples such as Audi, American Express Company, P&G and Google.

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