Market orientation is a business philosophy where the focus is on identifying customer needs or wants and meeting them. When a company has a market orientation approach, it focuses on designing and selling goods and services that satisfy customer needs in order to be profitable. The successful market oriented company discovers and meets the desires and needs of its customers through its product mix.
Market orientation works in the opposite direction to past marketing strategies – product orientation – where the focus was on establishing selling points for existing goods. Rather than trying to get your customers to like or become aware of the benefits of your products or services, with the marketing orientation approach you tailor them to meet the demands of customers.
The main disadvantage with a market orientation approach is lack of innovation. If you spend all your time satisfying customer needs, you may lose sight of what potential technical breakthroughs there might be. Product oriented companies, on the other hand, tend to be more technically or scientifically innovative, but lose out because they have less knowledge about what the consumer wants.
Types of marketing orientation
- Production Orientation
The focus for the business is to reduce costs through mass production. A business orientated around production believes that the “economies of scale” generated by mass production will reduce costs and maximise profits. A production orientated business needs to avoid production efficiency processes which affect product design and quality. Compromising product design and quality for the sake of production is likely to reduce the product’s appeal to customers.
- Product Orientation
A product orientated company believes that its product’s high quality and functional features make it a superior product. Such a company believes that if they have a superior product customers will automatically like it as well. The problem with this approach is that superiority alone does not sell products; superior products will not sell unless they satisfy consumer wants and needs.
- Sales Orientation
A sales orientated company’s focus is simple; make the product, and then sell it to the target market. This type of orientation involves the organization making what they think the customer needs or likes without relevant research. However as we know sales usually aren’t this simple. An effective marketing strategy requires market and marketing research, prior to product development and finally an effective promotion strategy.
- Market Orientation
A market orientated company puts the customer at the “heart” of the business; all activities in the organization are based around the customer. The customer is truly king!. A market orientated organization endeavours to understand customer needs and wants, then implements marketing strategy based on their market research; from product development through to product sales. Once sales have begun further research will be conducted to find out what consumers think about the product and whether product improvements are required. As markets continuously change, market research and product development is an ongoing process for a market orientation company.