MARKET SEGMENTATION AND CONCEPT OF POSITIONING
In simple terms, the idea of market segmentation (naming and segmenting) is how not to lose the focus. For this purpose, identifying most promising consumers is really a critical part of marketing activities. Would it be a reasonable decision for us to try selling air conditioners in Northern Territories and snow-removing equipment in South California? Hopefully not. The idea of positioning is also important in terms of consumers' psychology. With the diversity of products today, it becomes important to be able to have a proper understanding of consumer's needs and attitude, to see what and why they need and how their needs are satisfied by the existing market.
CONSUMER PRODUCT CLASSIFICATIONS, PRODUCT LIFE CYCLE, PACKAGING, AND BRANDING
The idea of consumer product classifications is important in terms of understanding how they think of them and what can be the motivation to buy them. This understanding is really critical, because to project our own perceptions on what we want to sell should be the last thing to do. Since the human nature is really a complicated thing, therefore the accumulated knowledge and observations made by the marketing scientists can be really helpful in making decisions. This may apply to certain particular classes of consumers' products like convenience, shopping, specialty, and unsought products. The useful thing to realize is that in selling a specific product or service we need to take into account specific qualities they offer, in terms of both material and psychological implications. Branding is also an important factor in marketing decisions. The idea of branding is to win wider and steadier recognition, though in real life a brand would not necessarily ensure a desired quality. Yet it works and, therefore, should be taken into account for competitive considerations. One of the important real life implications here is that to sell a branded product we would have to think well of what kind of advantages might contrast our product or service against the competitor's one. The product life cycle is especially important to in terms of planning of our marketing activities. For example, when dealing with a new product on the market it is important to be aware of the main stages of product's life. The low sales at the introduction and market growth stages would affect our marketing decisions in many ways, specifically in terms of promotion approaches, pricing policies, scale of production, financing, risk taking, etc.
Intermediaries, as an indirect channel of distribution, play a very important role in selling, which is one of most critical marketing functions. In real life it could hardly be possible to properly identify and effectively use all channels of distribution as they may represent quite complex ramifications of different channels. For example, for a small or medium-size production company it just might not be affordable to keep a large enough marketing department to deal with all problems of products distribution. Therefore, the services of intermediaries could be indispensable, even though they may take extra costs. Intermediaries help us cover larger market sectors. On the other hand, the value of intermediaries consists in their practical experience in trading. If our business is focused on production, we may need to concentrate more on production problems rather than trading, otherwise we lose the focus and there is always price to be paid for it. So the use of intermediaries might pay back.
INTEGRATED MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS
Integrated marketing communications may be defined as what we manage to achieve through all our efforts to promote a product or service. In simple terms, it might look like our ability to work out the right way to influence consumers using our communications skills. The practical approach (defined in theory as AIDA = Attention + Interest + Desire + Action) could be basically described as a complex process of informing and persuading. In other words, we need to design our messages to influence the consumers' perception about our products. The importance of this ability in real life can hardly be overestimated. In today's world of tough competition the communication process should be viewed as one of key elements of success. Life is full of practical examples of how the effective communication just works wonders. In a literal sense, the power of word can just be materialized. A dentist would not attract many clients without sending a specific message saying that he or she can do a good job, and accountant would not attract many customers and would not be employed by a company without convincing them he is a good specialist.
PRICING OBJECTIVES AND POLICIES
The important thing the marketing theory makes us understand about pricing is that it should not be viewed just as adding up the values of costs and markups guided by supply and demand. Such an approach would be incomplete to reflect the reality. The process, in real life, is much more complex. The real economic life makes us set various objectives and choose different policies. Reasons and objectives may be numerous. To win more customers we may need first to give them a chance to use our products at affordable prices to see, for example, that our product is in no way inferior to a similar branded one, or simply to increase sales. A lawyer or an accountant beginning a new business might choose to work harder at comparatively low prices for their services with an objective to gain more popularity and recognition. Or, besides competitive reasons there can be different motivations, such as survival. A monopoly may set prices without caring much about how it affects consumers' interests because of inelastic demand for its products: in such a case a monopoly is just not interested in working harder, because the inelastic demand would reduce its efforts to zero. In other words, the economic reality requires us to be especially aware of the problem of pricing. Too many factors have to be taken into consideration, and, therefore, a very good understanding is needed to choose the right policies.
The most important conclusion regarding my learning outcomes in this course of study might be summarized as follows: the complex reality of today's economic life requires a comprehensive knowledge and profound understanding of the marketing theory. The great variety of specific marketing decisions the businesses have to make in day-to-day life always relies not only on our specific accumulated experience and skills, but also on our learning process and ability to filter and make use of specific marketing information in every particular case, be it a small family business or a large corporation.