The History of Marketing
The term marketing is a broad concept that applies to a wide variety of applications, manifestations and principles in our current digital world. Marketing is all around us: on social media, on television, in the bus shelter, in the shopping street and even your own personal mailbox. Every business employs marketers, and the number of marketing tools they have at their disposal today is almost endless. But how did it all come about? How did marketing come about and how did we get to where we are today?
Marketing: get to market
Marketing should be seen as the totality of initiatives that are used to sell a product or service in a market. The term, although firmly established in Dutch, is an English loanword; it has its origin in the concept 'to get to the market'. So bring something to the market. The old adage 'Fish where the fish are' means that you do marketing where you can appeal to your target group. Throughout history, marketing has changed with the ways of communication. The history of marketing is therefore, in fact, the history of means of communication.
The very first marketing tool: the human voice
Bringing products to the market has been what people have been doing since the dawn of civilization. The most ancient marketing tool is the human voice. In the Middle Ages, you had the town crier who was dressed in bright colors and announced public announcements out loud orally. But it was not only present in the Middle Ages. In ancient Rome such a person was preco mentioned.
Roman 'shouters' mainly made the news known during nundiae, that is, on the eighth day of the week, when people who worked in the fields came to town to sell and buy products. This was sort of a weekend for the Romans. At that time, the capital was visited by many citizens, who often also voted. This allowed several Praecones (plural) to bring the news to a larger group of people.
Antiquity: the Silk Road and Roman billboards
As early as the second century before the start of the Common Era, the Silk Road was a trade route used by caravans with merchandise. The trade route, which ran roughly from present-day Southeast Asia to present-day Turkey, enabled traders from Asia and Europe to trade. This makes this route one of the first marketing tools in the modern sense of the word: a means of selling products and thus trading.
In more or less the same period in history, we see the forerunner of the later billboard emerge in the Roman Empire. The ruins of Pompeii in particular, because of the excellent state of the lava-burdened state, have proven to be a pre-eminent place where early examples of marketing have been found. For example, murals have been found on which merchandise is advertised and quality claims are made about food.
Middle Ages: the printing press
A jump in time brings us to the late Middle Ages. The invention of the printing press – which had actually already been done in Asia, but only led to large-scale printing in Europe in the fifteenth century – marks the start of writing as a widely used medium. This made mass communication possible for the first time. Where books and other writings were previously reserved for the nobility and clergy, the printing press gradually made them available to the common people. In addition, the first newspapers are created:
- In 1610 Amsterdam got its first French-language newspaper.
- In 1618 the appeared in Amsterdam Courante uyt Italien, Duytslandt, &c. as the first newspaper in the Dutch language.
- De Opregte Haarlemsche Courant was founded in 1656, first as the weekly Weeckelijcke Courante van Europa, later as a daily newspaper. During the Second World War, this newspaper merged with the Haarlems Dagblad, and claims to be the oldest newspaper in the world.
- In 1921, De Telegraaf was the first newspaper in the Netherlands to introduce a photo page.
Many examples of printed pamphlets are known from this era showing early marketing, as well as newspaper sections with commercial messages. It is also believed in science that the term marketing may well have originated in this era. The market as a place to trade and meet grew enormously in popularity during the Middle Ages and made this an interesting place to advertise.
Industrial Revolution: Rise of the Masses
For a long time, marketing was something you mainly did locally, because you produced on a small scale and had a small target group. That changed with the invention of the steam engine and the start of the industrial revolution. Increase in scale and the rise of the factory ensured that companies could produce products on a larger scale, which of course had to be marketed. We are then writing the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
The wider and cheaper availability of all kinds of products led to new forms of marketing. Many shops started to sell goods at a counter, with which the 'ordinary' people could be served. The nobility and wealthier citizens could enter the store through a normal entrance. Thus the upper class had no 'nuisance' from the poorer fellow man.
In the meantime, in addition to the newspaper, the magazine was also developing as a medium in Europe. Just as now, magazines were available in all shapes and sizes, with the best-known Dutch example being De Gids, which of course also advertised. Because of the excellent archives that magazine makers often kept, a lot of things from this period have been preserved. It is also at this time that traders and retailers are experimenting for the first time with discount promotions and national advertising campaigns, for example in such a magazine.
Marketing slowly the starting point
The early twentieth century marks the point where inventors and entrepreneurs slowly begin to see marketing as a fundamental part of their entire production process. The best example from this period is the way in which Henry Ford marketed his Model T Ford. Ford initially only had the car produced in black, the first to be produced on a large scale and which started a real revolution in passenger transport, because the paint dried the fastest. In this way he kept the production time shortest and therefore the costs lowest, with which he could put his T Ford cheaper and therefore better on the market. He told customers, “You can buy it in any color, as long as it's black.” Ford was different from many other entrepreneurs of the time anyway, thinking a little further: “If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” After a number of years, the customer gradually became king at Henry Ford and he introduced his T Ford in all kinds of different colors.
Emergence of mass media: radio, television
At the same time, technological inventions follow each other in rapid succession. At the end of the nineteenth century this was already the telephone, followed around the turn of the century by the moving film and the radio. Early in the twentieth century, the invention of television was added.
Now that the newspaper was no longer the only news medium, but was slowly being overtaken by radio and later television, this opened up countless opportunities for new forms of marketing. The spoken advertisement made its appearance on the radio. It is at this time that the more elaborate marketing campaigns begin to emerge, using multiple media to advertise a single product or service.
At the same time, more and more manufacturers, who took advantage of the growing industrialization and the large number of inventions during this period, are able to manufacture different variants of their products. This means that there is a need to appeal to more and more different target groups, in which different media will also play a role.
An early pioneer who set himself up as a visionary in this rapidly changing marketing landscape was Neil H. McElroy, who in the early 1930s, as CEO of multinational Procter & Gamble, laid the foundation for what is today branding (or brand management) is called. He understood that in a world where one company with different products wants to appeal to different layers of the population through different media, a new form of marketing is needed. In a famous three-page memo, he explains that each product line should, in effect, have its own marketing team, and those marketing teams should act as separate companies, with the goal of marketing that product line as best as possible as a brand. put.
When television gradually becomes an important medium in the middle of the twentieth century, this creates the breeding ground for yet another completely new form of marketing: the television commercial. The first TV commercial was broadcast in 1941, but it was not until the 1950s that the format became more professional and more widely used.
Marketing becomes more subtle: product placement
More or less in the same era – the 1940s and 1950s – the principle product placement popular. Although the phenomenon had been invented in the late 1800s and had made the transition to film in Hollywood's early heyday – the 1920s – it definitely became an important marketing tool with the rise of television. One of the products that benefited tremendously from product placement and overall exposure through the television and movies, was the cigarette. American film heroes were lusting after it and in the Netherlands in the 1970s Johan Cruijff could even be seen in commercials for tobacco manufacturers. Incidentally, not long after that, he again played the leading role in commercials against tobacco – it can be different.
Marketing Theories: McCarthy and Kotler
We have now entered the post-war era and it is 1960 when the first serious scientific marketing theory appears. E. Jerome McCarthy introduces his 4Ps, one of the most monumental marketing theories in history. By his 4Ps he understood the Product, the Price, the Place of sale and the Promotion of the product. The 4Ps together make up the marketing mix, a term that was first used in the 1940s, but became definitive jargon among entrepreneurs with McCarthy's theory.
McCarthy's 4Ps remain an important cornerstone of marketing theory to this day, although numerous additions have been made over the decades. The marketing mix consisting of 4Ps gave entrepreneurs and traders handles with which they could conduct marketing in a sound manner, even if they had little or no experience with it.
Around the same time, marketing is becoming a serious part of management education at universities and colleges. Philip Kotler was a professor in the 1960s and 1970s who exerted a great influence on marketing thinking. His books and publications are to this day regarded as important works that have influenced thinking about marketing at its core. One of Kotler's fundamental theories revolves around the five different levels of a product:
- The basic product – what the product is primarily intended for
- The generic product – the summary of all the features of the product
- The expected product – what the buyer expects from a product, a result or intended purpose
- The supplemented product – that which can be added to a product to make it distinctive from competing products
- The potential product – the ideal image, the maximum achievable when looking at the wishes and needs of customers
Along with McCarthy's 4Ps and McElroy's past work in branding, Kotler's marketing thinking has left its mark on the global view of marketing and product development to this day. It is in this period – 1930 to roughly 1970 – that the foundations are laid for much of what has been further developed since then.
Rise of telemarketing
As marketing professionalized and product sales became systematic, a new phenomenon emerged: telemarketing. Telephone sales of products took off from the 1970s and became a typical job for women, especially in America. In particular, the transition from physical switchboards – where an operator had to manually connect by plugging a cable into a board – to electronic switchboards acted like a flywheel on the telemarketing machine.
In the 1980s and 1990s, telemarketing takes on an extra dimension when initiatives such as Telsell are introduced: hour-long commercials on television – often broadcast in the late, cheap hours – in which customers are urged to order directly by telephone. A generation grew up with it.
21st century: marketing goes online
Shortly after the turn of the century, that slowly ceases to exist, because: the internet. Although e-mail and forums (usenet) were mainly used in the early years of the internet, marketing tools such as pop-ups, banners and advertorials soon appeared around the turn of the century. Slowly the internet started to fill up with commercial material. The internet turned out to have an even greater impact on marketing opportunities than the arrival of TV, radio and telephony combined.
Advertising revenue turned out to be the reason why the internet was able to gain content so quickly. The vast majority of websites – news websites, social platforms, etc. – were able to offer services for free to visitors because the money was made through advertisements. That in turn also caused a counter-movement: the adblocker, which blocks advertising content on web pages.
From going online to being online 24/7
With the birth of the PDA and later the smartphone, and the replacement of dial-up connections to unlimited broadband connections, 'going online' quickly turns into 'being online'. More and more marketing initiatives are moving online. Folders, direct mails, quotations: in the period from roughly 2008 there are more and more companies that only conduct online marketing. In a period of less than twenty years, many offline marketing methods are abandoned and companies that only do business via the internet and marketing companies are sprouting like mushrooms.
However, the most successful companies in this period turn out to be precisely the companies that manage to incorporate online into an omnichannel marketing strategy, and do not ignore all offline resources in favor of online resources. That number of online resources is steadily growing, with social media marketing, hiring influencers and collecting customer data through free whitepaper downloads or subscriptions to newsletters or social channels.
The black box: online marketing gets excesses
In the second decade of the 21st century, online marketing will become a black box of which virtually no average consumer is aware of the content. By means of personal data sent via social networks, online communication and cookies – with which browser data, surfing behavior and search history can be analyzed – more and more parties are able to respond to the needs and weaknesses of consumers. It allows companies to deliver very specific content and offers to those who are most sensitive to it, but at the same time, discussions about privacy flare up. Consumers are unconsciously influenced to, for example, make purchases or take out subscriptions, but is such a thing allowed?
Excesses in the form of scandals surrounding companies like Cambridge Analytics are helping to create a public awareness that personal data should not just be lying around on the internet and should not be used by all kinds of companies for any purpose whatsoever. It is becoming clear that companies can influence elections through personal data and deliberately push public opinion in a desired direction. The election of Donald Trump as US president turns out to be the result of an online content machine that is unparalleled, in which millions of citizens have been continuously bombarded with content specifically tailored to their personal characteristics. The outcome of the Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom also appears to have been influenced in this way. It forces CEOs of large companies such as Twitter and Facebook to testify and think along about online privacy of consumers. The lesson the world is slowly learning is: “If an online platform is free, you are the product.”