According to Cole (2003, p.2), many people face a challenge distinguishing between marketing and sales. This arises from the fact that the two terms overlap in many ways. Marketing and sales are some of the most important elements in a firm’s effort to attain competitive advantage. However, the two terms are not similar. Cole (2003, p.2) asserts that marketing differs from sales with regard to its component.
Marketing is composed of the various activities that are undertaken with the objective of reaching and persuading prospective customers. On the other hand, sales entail the various activities that are executed so as to close a sale. Marketing begins the moment one develops an idea to create a new product or service, conceives the content of the product, its target market and how it will cope with the prevailing competition in the market. According to Theodore Levitt, a renowned Harvard Business School professor, marketing refers to creating, satisfying and retaining customers.
Creating customers entails identifying potential customers, communicating the value proposition and generating a transaction. On the other hand, satisfying customers entails providing them with a product that meets their desires while retaining customers involves ensuring that there is an ongoing communication on the value that they can receive. The resultant effect is that a firm is able to generate additional transactions. In summary marketing is composed of various strategies which include product development, promotion, pricing and distribution with the objective of creating an exchange that culminates into satisfaction of organizational and individual objectives.
In order to differentiate the two terms, the author of this paper analyzes some of the core marketing concepts which include need, want, demand, product, market, exchange and satisfaction as applied to fashion business. The paper also evaluates how market segmentation could be used to enhance customer satisfaction in the fashion business.
Needs, wants and demand
The term need refers to a problem or a state of felt deprivation that a customer is experiencing and intends to resolve it by purchasing a particular product or service. Alternative, the term need can be defined to include the essential products and services that a customer must have in order to survive. Therefore, needs are considered to be necessities. Examples of needs include the basic needs such as food, shelter and clothing.
On the other hand, wants includes product that an individual would like to possess. This means that wants are not absolute necessities and are hence considered to be preferences. For example, it is not a necessity to have a big and stylish house. Kotler (2010, p. 89) asserts that needs are transformed into wants when a specific product is designed in such a way that it meets the customers’ needs but it is not in itself an essential for one to survive.
When marketing their products, it is paramount for firms in different economic sectors to develop products that are in line with the customers’ needs so as to enhance the probability of the firm succeeding by making sales. For firms within the fashion industry to survive, the management teams should have a comprehensive understanding of the customers’ needs. This will enable them to be effective in designing their products in such a way that they meet the need of the customers and in addition influence them to purchase the product. One of the ways through which these companies can achieve this is by branding their products effectively.
Demand for a product refers to a consumers’ want for a particular product that is enhanced by his or her ability to purchase. While sales is aimed at determining whether a firm’s products are in line with customers’ demands, the objective of marketing is to meet the customers’ demand. In their consumption patterns, most consumers increasingly desire to purchase fashionable products. However, some consumers may not have the ability to purchase the product. This leads to emergence of the demand concept. When marketing their products, firms within the fashion industry should not only determine the size of the market with regard to the number of customers who wants its products but also the size of prospective customers that is willing and able to purchase its products. There are 5 main types of needs in marketing. These include real, stated, unstated, delight and secret needs. Over the past few decades, there has been an increment in consumers’ purchasing power due to increment in their disposable income. The resultant effect is that purchasing has become a leisure activity. To capitalize on this trend, firms are integrating various strategies to skew demand.
A product refers to a good or service that is offered in the market with the objective of satisfying the consumers’ needs or wants. In their buying process, consumers prefer purchasing products and services that are of high quality or have innovative features. When developing their products and services, it is critical for firms within the fashion industry to integrate these two concepts so as to enhance acceptability of their products in the market. The resultant effect is that the firm will be able to generate more sales hence attaining its profit maximization objective.
Through marketing, a firm is able to generate sales. This arises from the fact that it creates sufficient awareness regarding the existence of a product in the market. This refers to the process of obtaining a certain product from another person and submitting something in return. For an exchange process to take place there must be at least 2 parties. Each of the parties must offer a product or service that the other party considers to be of high value. Additionally, the participants must undertake the deal freely. In most cases, exchange is characterized by a sale.
According to Storbacka & Ryals (2009, p.890), the sale process occurs through an interpersonal interaction between two parties. The sale can either be undertaken on-on-one or through online networking. This means that sales are characterized by direct interaction between the two parties. Marketing does not involve direct interaction but is composed of a wide range of activities that are aimed at closing a sale.
In the business environment, an exchange usually occurs between a buyer and a seller. The seller provides the product that the customer needs or wants. It is the buyer who determines the price at which the product will be exchanged. If the customer values the product, he or she will be willing to purchase the product at the price set. To facilitate exchange, firms within the fashion industry should integrate effective pricing strategies. Pricing is a critical component of marketing. This arises from the fact that consumers are price conscious in their purchasing process.
Customer satisfaction can either be defined as a process or an outcome. With regard to outcome, satisfaction refers to the end-state that a customer experiences after consuming the product. In their purchasing process, consumers expect to be adequately rewarded for the opportunity cost incurred by purchasing a particular property. In this case, satisfaction is considered to be an emotional reaction towards consumption of a particular product (Anthanassopoulos, 1999, 197).
With regard to satisfaction as a process, Grigoroudis and Siskos (2009, p.5) asserts that satisfaction is an evaluation that a customer’s considers to be in line with his or her expectations regarding a particular product. When determining the level of satisfaction, customers compare the actual performance of a product with the expected performance.
According to Vavra (1997, p.7), there are other levels that consumers takes into consideration when evaluating satisfaction. These include satisfaction with the product, experience arising from the purchase decision, performance of the product and the store. Additionally, customers take into consideration the pre-purchase experience attained.
In undertaking their marketing activities such as product development, firms within the fashion industry should formulate strategies aimed at ensuring that they offer quality products so as to meet the customers’ expectations. One of the ways through which they can achieve this is by ensuring that their products are effectively designed so as to attract a substantial customer base.
It is also important for these firms to integrate effective strategies so as to nurture a high level of satisfaction amongst the customers. This can be achieved by integrating a follow-up program to track the customers’ level of satisfaction. To attain this, these firms can integrate the concept of customer relationship management. Customer relationship management enables firms to obtain sufficient market response regarding their products (Syed, 2010, p. 1). This will enhance the effectiveness with which the firms undertake product improvement. Additionally, when closing a sales contract, it is critical for these firms to ensure that they offer effective customer services. This will aid in enhancing the level of customer satisfaction.
Ways through which market segmentation can be used to enhance satisfaction in the fashion business
Market segmentation refers to the process through which a firm divides its market into small and homogeneous groups and concentrates on marketing its product to product to the specific market segment (Cant, 2006, p.105). Through effective market segmentation, firms within the fashion industry can be able to enhance the level of customer satisfaction. This arises from the fact that the firms will be able to identify a potential market niche. As a result, market segmentation will enable these firms to develop a comprehensive understanding of the different needs of the customers with regard to fashion. This means that it will be easy for firms within the fashion industry to develop products that are in line with the customers’ needs, wants and demands. The ultimate effect is that these firms will be able to develop a high level of satisfaction amongst the customers.
To ensure that market segmentation contributes towards creation of a high level of customer satisfaction, firms within the fashion industry should integrate effective market segmentation strategies. One of the ways through which they can achieve this is by integrating different market segmentation variables. Some of the variables that these firms can take into consideration include geographic, behavioral and demographic variables. In segmenting the market using geographic market segmentation, firms in the fashion industry should identify the needs of customers within a certain region and develop a product that meets these needs. Initially, the segment identified should be relatively small. This will aid in ensuring that the customs’ needs are satisfactorily met.
On the other hand, behavioral market segmentation entails dividing the market on the basis of customer’s buying behavior (Cant, 2006, p. 106). Some of the behavioral market segmentation variables that management teams of fashion firms should incorporate include the benefit sought, buyer’s readiness to purchase and purchase occasion. In their purchasing patterns, consumers have a number of benefits that they intend to attain by consuming a particular product. To be successful in satisfying the customers, firms within the fashion industry must ensure that they understand the benefits being sought and provide them.
Demographic market segmentation entails dividing the market on basis of segmentation variables such as the consumers’ age, income, gender, culture, religion, beliefs, and traditions. When designing their products, firms within the fashion industry should consider integrating some of these demographic variables. For example, with regard to gender fashion designing firms should develop products that meet customers the fashion needs and preferences. This can be achieved by designing male and female specific products. To ensure that the fashion products produced contributes to a high level of customer satisfaction, it is important for firms within the fashion industry to develop a comprehensive understanding of the customers product preferences. This will play a critical role in influencing both genders to purchase their products (Cant, 2006, p. 106).
Marketing and sales are some of the most important concepts in a firm’s effort to attain a high competitive advantage. Some entrepreneurs regard the two concepts to have a similar meaning. However, there is a clear cut difference between the two terms. Marketing is comprehensive in nature in that it entails a wide range of activities that a firm undertakes in an effort to attain its objective. Marketing is aimed at creating, satisfying and retaining customers. This means that marketing entails all the various activities that are aimed at opening and closing a sale. To achieve this, a firm must understand the customers demand.
Some of the elements that make up marketing include product development and marketing communication. The inception of marketing occurs when an individual conceives an idea to develop a product. For a firm to be effective in its marketing processes, it must understand the consumer’s needs. This will enhance the effectiveness with which the firm develops products that satisfy the customer’s needs. On the other hand, sales entail the various activities that are executed with the objective of closing a sale. For a sale to be complete, an exchange between the buyer and seller must take place.
To survive in the long term, it is paramount for firms within the fashion industry to ensure that their customers attain a high level of satisfaction. This can only be achieved by developing products that meet the customers’ expectations.
Through market segmentation, it is possible for firms within the fashion industry to develop a high level of customer satisfaction. This is due to the fact that these firms will be able to develop a comprehensive understanding of the needs of the specific market segment targeted. As a result, their production will be aligned with the needs of the market segment.
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