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The fascinating history of marketing, revealed!

Though marketing as a profession has only been around since the early to mid-20th century, the practice has been going on for as long as humans have been selling things to each other. When you have products to sell, you will always have to convince your customers that your stock is better than the competition.

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Modern marketing as we know it in the UK was set into motion by the industrial revolution, with the potent combination of mass production, technological advances, nationwide transport, and the development of factories. The businessmen who owned the factories needed to come up with a strategy to make sure people knew who they were, and more importantly, wanted to buy their products. Alongside a burgeoning mass media movement, the concept of marketing was born.

As businesses grew larger and turned into corporations, they began to value the ability to study the markets, what their customers wanted, and the behaviours that lead to the sale of an item.

Decades later, marketing in the 21st century doesn’t just focus on how to make the product appealing: now, it looks at what people want and aims to deliver it. As markets for all kinds of goods and services have become saturated, competition has grown fiercer, leading to highly sophisticated marketing strategies.

Nowadays, marketers look at what consumer needs might be, and attempt to deliver products to satisfy those needs – as well as strengthening brand awareness. Compared with other professions, this is a very new development. With the widespread use of digital media, marketing is likely to continue changing as time goes on.


The development of marketing

Production (approx. 1860’s – 1920’s)

At the very beginning of marketing, things were simpler: with the industrial revolution, there was some competition, but not too much. In a less globalised world, there were fewer alternatives available, and many businesses were able to corner large sections of the market.

Sales (approx. 1920’s – 1940’s)

Once the initial boom subsided and the markets became saturated with goods, competition became much more fierce. Businesses worked harder to sell their products, with price becoming the main factor for consumer decisions.

Marketing Department (approx. 1940’s – 1960’s)

From the 1940’s to 1960’s, marketers began to take roles that affected business strategy. With an in-depth understanding of the target market, they began to recommend what companies should produce, where it should place their ads, and how to price them. Other staff also began to learn more about marketing during this time.

Marketing Company (1960’s – present)

Once it was widely seen that marketing was a vital part of successful businesses, companies began to emerge which focused only on marketing and fulfilling customer needs. Many also adopted a new technique of building brand loyalty and strong relationships with their audience, making sure that they could retain customers.

Digital Era (2000’s – present)

Once the internet and social media took over, businesses were able to create live 24/7 connections with existing and potential customers. Social engagement has become critical to a business’ success in order to build and expand a trusting customer base. With more technological advances every year, it’s anybody’s guess as to where marketing may be in another twenty years.

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