The study of marketing has been approached in more than one way. To some it has meant to sell something at a shop or market place; to some it has meant the study of individual product and its movement in the market; to some it has meant the study of persons-wholesalers, retailers, agents etc., who move the products and to some it has meant the study of behaviour of commodity movement and the way the persons involved to move them. The approach to the study of marketing has passed through several stages before reaching the present stage. There is a process of evolution in the development of these approaches.
- Product or Commodity Approach
Under the commodity approach the focus is placed on the product or it is an approach on the marketing on commodity wise basis. In other words, the study relates to the flow of a certain commodity and its movement from the original producer right up to the ultimate customer. The subject-matter, under this study, is commodity.
When one studies the marketing on this basis—commodity approach, one must begin to study and analyses the problems relating to a commodity i.e., sources and conditions of supply, nature and extent of demand, mode of transporting, storage, standardization, packing etc. Again, take an example of a commodity, say rice.
One has to study the sources of rice, location, people involved in buying and selling, means of transport, problems of selling the product, financing, storage, packing etc. Thus, we get a full picture of the marketing from the original producer to the ultimate consumer. The method of study is repeated for each item.
- Institutional Approach
In the institutional approach, the focus is on the study of institutions- middlemen, wholesalers, retailers, importers, exporters, agencies, warehousing etc., engaged in the marketing during the movement of goods. The approach is also known as middlemen approach. Here, emphasis is given to understand and analyses the functions of institutions, who are discharging their marketing functions.
- Functional Approach
The functional approach gives importance on the various functions of marketing. In other words, one concentrates attention on the specialized services or functions performed by marketers. In this approach, marketing splits into many functions-buying, selling, pricing, standardization, storage, transportation, advertising, packing etc. This may be studied one after another. Here each function is studied in detail in order to understand it and analyses the nature, need and importance of each function.
In this approach, marketing is regarded as “business of buying and selling and as including those business activities involved in the flow of goods and services between producers and customers.” This system gives too much importance to various marketing functions and fails to explain how such functions are applied to the specific business operations.
- Management Approach
This approach is the latest and scientific. It concentrates upon the activities or marketing functions and focuses on the role of decision-making at the level of firm. This approach is mainly concerned with how managers handle specific problems and situations. It aims through evaluation of current market practices to achieve specific marketing objectives.
- System Approach
The system approach can be defined as “a set of objects together with the relationships among them and their attributes.” Systems focus on interrelations and interconnections among the functions of marketing. The system examines marketing connections (linkage) inside as well as outside the firm. Inside the firm there is a co-ordination of business activities-engineering, production, marketing, price etc.
- Societal Approach
This approach has been originated recently. The marketing process is regarded as a means by which society meets its own consumption needs. This system gives no importance as to how the business meets the consumer’s needs. Therefore, attention is paid to ecological factors (sociological, cultural, legal etc.) and marketing decisions and their impact on the society’s well-being.
- Legal Approach
This approach emphasizes only one aspect i.e., transfer of ownership to buyer: It explains the regulatory aspect of marketing. In India, the marketing activities are largely controlled by Sales of Goods Act, Carrier Act etc. The study is concentrated only on legal aspects, leaving other important aspects. This does not give an idea of marketing.
- Economic Approach
This approach deals with only the problems of supply, demand and price. These are important from the economic point of view, but fail to give a clear idea of marketing.