Evolution of holistic marketing

By on October 18, 2012

Marketing is a vital management function and acts as the life-blood to an organization. Philip Kotler has defined it as “a societal process by which individuals and groups obtain what they need and want through creating, offering, and freely exchanging products and services of value with others.” The concept of marketing has traveled a long way since its inception. Being a product-oriented concept initially, the marketing now follows customer-oriented approaches where customers are the focal point of every marketing decision. Earlier standardized products were offered by the marketers and mass advertising tools were utilized to search for prospective customers. There was no market segmentation and product positioning. It was simply disposing of the firm’s products at maximum possible profit margin through mass production, promotion and distribution.

Technology and marketing

Over the time new technologies emerged and media became powerful. It resulted in better awareness among the consumers. The consumers started identifying their needs. This made marketers to think from the consumers’ perspective. Marketers realized that customers have varying needs and that the ‘same product for all’ is no longer going to work. Thus, they resorted to segment their market, identify the target market and position their offering for this market. The marketers focused on customer satisfaction by adapting their offerings to the customers’ needs and specifications. Customer satisfaction thus became the key to success. The transition of the marketing concept over the time can be explained by saying earlier it was about finding the customers for company’s offerings and now it is producing what the customers want. From one-to-many, the marketing transformed into one-to-the selected few.

Being different

As competition hiked, the customer-oriented approach became insufficient for the survival of brands in the long-run. Along with rendering value to the customers, firms also focus on core competencies and collaborative networks. This called for yet another transition in the concept of marketing; ‘holistic marketing’. Over the time, customer focus as a winning strategy was copied by every firm so the competitive advantage can be gained only by creating strategies upon the core competencies and strengthening the collaborative networks. The marketplace now is based upon ‘being different’ rather than earlier ‘being better than others’. The resources of the firm now need to be utilized optimally and the marketers need strategies that can bring synergy to the firm. This calls for strengthening the firm’s collaborative network including all the dealers and suppliers that assist the firm in accomplishing its vision.

Holistic marketing

Marketers started realizing the need for an integrated concept of marketing termed as ‘Holistic Marketing’. Holistic marketing is based on the proposition ‘everything matters’. This philosophy considers everything; employees, customers, other companies in the market, competition, and the society as well while making any marketing decision. Holistic approach proposes adding value at every level by everyone. The adoption of holistic approach requires a change in complete organizational philosophy. It does not relate to any particular process or activity but everyone in the organization should believe that they need to add value and focus on creating value for the customers. The reason being the activities in an organization are so inter-related that no department can work in isolation. The same applies for marketing as well. Marketing is no longer done by the marketing department alone. It is rather an activity that affects and gets affected by the activities of all the various departments. It is only when a holistic approach is adopted; the firms can build long-lasting mutually profitable relationships with the customers and can survive long-term.


  • Kotler, P., Jain, D. & Maesincee, S. (2002). Marketing Moves: A New Approach to Profits, Growth, and Renewal. Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation.
  • Sheth, J. & Sisodia, R. (2006). Does Marketing Need Reform? Fresh Perspectives on the Future. M.E. Sharpe, Inc.


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