The idea of marketing revolves around an aspect of need by both the marketer and the consumer. When there is a need to sell by the marketer or producer and to consume by the prospective buyer, an exchange takes place (Brooksbank & Taylor, 2002). In such a case, most of the marketing activities may be seen as systematic sales outreach by a firm to a particular section of the society, or what is normally known as a market segment in the marketing fraternity (Gilligan & Wilson, 2003). The common theme that has been entrenched in the modern marketing field is the fragmented nature of our society, particularly in line with what people need to consume and what is provided by the producers. That is, firms have recognized a shift in what consumers value most, based on their beliefs and taste, towards personal preference. This is evidenced in the speedy way in which industrial mass production, as well as electric patterns of purchases and consumption and recognition of ambiguities that exist in the modern artifacts (Harris & Jenkins, 2001; Hunt, 2010).
Marketers have significantly been affected by the emergence of postmodernism as a culture that drives mass consumption. But is this form of fragmentation relevant in the postmodernism era, where individuals’ behavior and characteristics change every day, every hour, or every minute. As Mockler (2002, p.331) would say, “There are no fixed social roles as individuals are left to adopt a wide variety of identities in a post-modern society”, with no consistent behavior. This paper incorporates postmodern marketing vs. normative marketing strategies, taking into consideration what some firms have done to penetrate the market environment.
Postmodernism vs. normative strategic marketing practices
While modern consumers engaged in the purchase of goods in a more clear pattern of expression, with consistency in the lifestyle recognition, postmodernists purchase products with little consistency, “always suggesting a series of inconsistent identities” (Boardman & Vining 2000, p.398). In his study on the nature of a contemporary consumer, Stotlar (2001) asserts that post-modern market researchers research with the recognition that individual consumers rarely remain true to a particular behavior or conduct towards certain goods and services. In other words, we can argue that depending on the situational context, one individual may remain an upscale consumer in one moment, for example, flying on British Airways business class, in another occasion, the same person resorts to the economy class of the same company. This kind of confusion has become the biggest challenge to the modern marketer, creating a scenario where one cannot expressly identify a certain market segment with a long-term plan. How has this changed the postmodern marketing strategies?
The need to navigate the complex marketing environment is based on the requirement of both consumers as well as marketers alike. Consumers purchase as a result of the personal feeling of need, while firms produce in line with the need of the former. It, therefore, follows that much of the marketing activities are based on the need of the larger society, rather than traditional market segmentation. Baker & Leidecker (2001) states that when an exchange occurs, “there are its effects on the primary transacting parties, but also a residual shaping force on society often having ethical ramification” (p.355).
That is, irrespective of how exchange occurs, every transaction bores a certain impact on the society that consumes the product. Although the most common measurable impact is seen in terms of economic achievements such as in the view of aggregate consumer spending as well as sales and revenue, the hidden social influence leads to an evaluation that looks into the fairness or righteousness of the marketing activities- the basis of normative marketing ethics (Ferkins, Shilbury & Mcdonald, 2005). It, therefore, follows that the normative approaches to strategic marketing practices look into the need to develop good practices, raising it into the context of efficient marketing management. The rush to accommodate market demands also comes with the need to satisfy the social and psychological needs of the consumer. This need is what influences a marketer to engage in other aspects of definitive marketing strategies, taking into consideration the long-term behavior of the consumer as far as perception is concerned.
Case Studies of Postmodernism and Normative Marketing
Orange Company is a French telecommunication company that specializes in mobile network and internet provisions in its global market range. Orange has managed to develop itself into a household name company in this complex and diverse global market characterized by cultural differences. How has the company achieved this goal in this complex market environment? While Orange as a brand got into the market about one and a half decades ago (1994) through UK’s Hutchinson Telecoms, it was re-branded in 2000 when French telecom acquired it (Gray, et al., 2007, p.69).
After realizing that postmodern consumers have become more demanding and discriminating in terms of their relationship with brands, Orange decided to concentrate on having their customers take the front seat as far as design and marketing strategies are concerned. According to Hooley & Greenley (2005), the contemporary consumer has a lot of expectations in terms of service quality and value, with their value increasing daily. In this aspect, these consumers need more mature, grown-up relationships with brands, with honesty, openness, and human characteristic as the backbench for measuring success (Hooley & Greenley, 2005, p.97). The implication is that brands are seen as trustworthy, with an open and transparent approach to human relationships. A brand that is more human in the market environment is seen as a better option. Gilligan & Wilson ( 2003) state that Orange is a company that has used its large market presence to express brand generosity, not because they offer special deals on their rates, but due to their ability to “exhibit a more human generosity of spirit” (p. 439). Orange offers mobile phone charges in London’s black cabs that can be used by anyone. This strategy has made Orange develop a very strong emotional pull with its wide range of clients.
Orange’s global popularity can be seen in the manner in which it has used its financial and asset base to acquire various telecommunication companies in different companies in the world. This kind of brand superiority is based on its belief in the mass market rather than exclusive markets. The company is also aware that the communication sector is not a preserve for the high-end market, but a general industry that needs every person, irrespective of the economic income (Gilligan & Wilson, 2003, p.440). Orange has endeared itself in acquiring various companies in different countries in various parts of the world to continue building a strong relationship with its customers.
Orange has a strong belief in brand superiority, thus the continuous effort to sponsor various sports clubs to strengthen customer loyalty from various regions and countries (Hunt, 2010). For example, the normative approach to marketing led the company to actively involve itself in sponsorship of various sports activities in Africa, a continent considered to be comprised of low-end consumers. It was recently involved in the sponsorship of the African Cup of Nations, a football bonanza held after every two years, making it one of the few global companies to develop a strong business relationship with various market segments of low-income regions of the world (Hunt, 2010, p.138).
Postmodern strategic marketing is a question of selecting an appropriate target market, making an effort to formulate a marketing mix to meet the demands, without compromising the financial goals (Pearce & Robinson 2000). In this aspect, a company’s first initiative is to increase its market penetration, with as little cost as possible. Dell Company, a global computer company realized that its market base needed to expand, yet it did not want to carry an extra cost in marketing strategies. The company therefore resorted to outsourcing as one of how it could expand its market base globally, taking into consideration areas such as research and development technologies, rent-a-sales-force, and many other marketing initiatives (Kapferer, 2008).
To adopt personal touch with its customers in many countries around the world, including Asia, Dell used value-added resellers such as Compaq, which added a large service value component to the benefit of increased personal computers users (Kapferer, 2008). A simple but very effective approach, Dell sold direct to its customers, hence reducing the fixed costs of distribution. They realized that its increasing number of customers needed after-sales service, yet they also acknowledged that extra cost on expensive field engineer force would be unattainable. To facilitate normative marketing strategies and build close customer relationships, the company engaged in research that revealed that most of the computer problems were people problems and that they could be sorted out over telephone communication. Dell thus decided to set up a “low cost, free-for-life ‘telerepair’ service system” (Kapferer, 2008, p.142).
Aware of the postmodern consumers’ diverse demand and power to control market penetrability, Dell recognized that genuine breakdowns would have to be dealt with as fast as possible, hence outsourced the servicing to Honeywell Bull, a more established company in the line of field engineers personnel (Kapferer, 2008, p.142). The company’s normative marketing in a strategic approach was driven by the need to build closer touch with its clients, thus helping the managers to reach an understanding of real-world complexities as far as problems and situations present the market scenarios.
In its marketing objectives, Dell focused on its future outcomes, as far as continuing statements are concerned. It is noticeable the company’s marketing objective is based on its ability to focus on normative strategic marketing, ostensibly taking into consideration the postmodern market situation. While it is hard to dismiss the possibility of a computer company developing a market niche to serve specific clients, Dell did not classify its customers concerning income or economic ability, but merged its consumers, with an awareness that personal computers usability is uniform irrespective of user’s income. The company, therefore, succeeded in the global market that saw high-end companies such as IBM and low-end computer companies in Asia fail to succeed.
Twitter Inc. is one of the leading social networking companies that also offer the opportunity for users to micro-blog and share several aspects of social and economic lifestyles around the globe. One of the most important aspects of Twitter usage is that it provides an opportunity to do it spontaneously, with no limit of when and where to use it. There is a need for planning and research for one to consistently maintain a blog. The company also has its services designed in a manner that provides information about trends, displaying a list of trending topics on both your Twitter and search pages (Comm, 2010, p.332). Aware of people’s diverse needs, the company has not only provided an opportunity to online social rovers but also those with commercial interests as far as global business connection is concerned. By providing statistics for the popular topics, a person with business interest can use this trend to post the topics and advertise their products and services at the same time (Comm, 2010, p.332). For example, a gardening twitter who wants to build upon the number of followers as fast as possible will need to write about the popular topic to attract many people to click on his or her topic.
To foster better communication between Twitter users, usage has been made easier. The ease of use is what makes Twitter more enjoyable to use, hence combining fun and serious business more uniquely. That is, while most people use Twitter to have fun by keeping in touch with others, making new friends, and engaging in various topical discussions, several companies use it to build their brands by turning their customers into a community. This kind of approach cements the name of a company product in the minds of customers (Benson & Henderson 2005, p.339). Additionally, there is a possibility of using Twitter to prompt people to take a particular course of action that would benefit them in the long run. People track results and tweets as well as trends to get the most of the actions they want their followers to take for social or political benefits.
This paper has presented an explanation of postmodernism as seen from the perspective of normative marketing. While it acknowledges the increased demand for a more uniform culture of consumption, normative marketing is rooted in the belief that product quality, consumer need, and desires precede all other aspects of marketing in a wider perspective. This could explain why many marketing initiatives by companies like Orange, Dell, and Twitter have adopted various strategic approaches to the market needs as per their respective industries.
Orange has ventured more on the entire global market, with no cost-approach differentiation. They realized that everyone needs communication, thus their acquisition of various telecommunication companies in several companies around the world. They also sponsor sports events in an attempt to build brand loyalty. It’s significant to note that the company is mainly focused on customer loyalty as the criteria for marketing, strengthening its brand to reach every market across the globe. Dell Company also used outsourcing strategies to ensure they cut the fixed and variable cost on service provision while meeting their customers’ needs. Twitter on the other hand provides networking services to merge social and economic interactions between people around the world. The social networking site company realized that postmodernism has produced consumers with various inconsistent needs, where today’s social networking needs develop into economic needs tomorrow. The networking site has therefore become the easiest to use, to foster the normative marketing needs. In summary, postmodernism and normative marketing strategies rely on consumer behavior, that is, consumers rain superior, and any marketing approach is driven towards building long-term relationships with mass consumers by closing on their loyalty.
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