Marketing emerged in its modern behavioral, research, data, and customer-orientation in the 1970s. Classics in the field include Positioning, Ries and Trout (1969/2010), which argued that customers construct psychological categories for desired products and services, and they have room in each mental category for one leader, a runner-up, and only very occasionally a distant third. So if you can’t be a leader or runner up in your category, you should strive to reposition your value proposition sufficiently to be perceived as a new category by your market.
Before the 1970s, sales and advertising were primarily designed to manufacture demand. But as sales data and personal computing grew, research to understand evolving customer tastes and identify market segments, and marketing plans to align the firms production and promotion techniques to customers and rapidly adjust based on customer behavior became possible. Specialty strategies like database marketing, industrial marketing, and relationship marketing then emerged. In recent years, psychology, sales, and ICT have converged to produce customer value modeling, behavior-based profiling, behavioral targeting, and social media marketing as new specialties in this fertile department.
Books like Thaler and Sunstein’s Nudge (2009) explore how to influence behavior via choices made easily available. Ryan Holiday’s Growth Hacker Marketing (2013) explains the startup strategy of building marketing into the digital product, and encouraging fast failure and continual iteration based on customer feedback.
Some call all of these new developments predictive marketing, which simply means taking a more model-based, experiment-oriented, and data-intensive approach to marketing management. The future of marketing is both bright and filled with ethical dilemmas, for as technology and psychology advance, many new marketing opportunities will emerge. In the near term, it seems likely that personal privacy will continue to erode, new abuses will surface, and new regulations and customs will eventually ensue. Adhering to best professional practices as a leader in this department seems a particularly wise choice. To recap, the Marketing department is responsible for the Marketing Management foresight function, and other departments (Sales, Customer Service, Communications, etc.) will roll up to it as well in many smaller firms.