Marketing Orientation

There have been many studies of the term ‘marketing orientation’, and its presence within organisations. Marketing orientation is an approach that companies take which centres its activities towards achieving customer satisfaction through effective marketing. It is where customers form the basis of an organisations performance and overall success. In order to achieve successful marketing orientation, a company must organise an effective structure through planning its activities, products and services successfully.

This will help the company on focusing its aims and objectives on the needs and requirements of its customers, in order to establish a relationship that will increase performance and success. ‘Market orientation is the organisation wide development of market intelligence pertaining to customer needs. ’ (Kohli and Jaworski, 1990. p12) Two approaches to marketing Orientation have been suggested by Avlonitis and Gounaris (1999), focusing on the practices and culture that the company adopts. It has been interpreted by Avlonitis and Gounaris (1999) that marketing orientation is either ‘a company attitude or company behaviour. This is whether a company is customer orientated or focuses on a competitive advantage through marketing orientation. Other authors have similiar thoughts upon these approaches to marketing orientation. Drucker (1954) believes that customers perceive marketing as an ‘activity involving the entire organisation’, rather than being a specific company process. The author’s view coincides with the work of Avlonitis and Gounaris (1999), as he focuses on the attitude organisations have in satisfying customer needs. The other side to this approach is the significance of a company’s culture towards marketing orientated activities.

Felton (1959) states; ‘It is the attitudes and beliefs of a workforce that control the level of orientated activities a company strives to achieve,’ implying the focus is on themselves competing rather than putting the customer first. Trout and Ries (1985) perceive marketing orientation as an effort by companies to increase competitor advantage, rather than satisfy customer needs. Therefore the company’s culture is focusing its strategy on competitor orientation in order to achieve success. An organisations performance is a very important aspect of successful marketing orientation.

Narver and Slater (1990) state that marketing orientation is based on 3 performance measures, which include ‘customer and competitor orientation, and inter-functional coordination. ’ Introducing effective performance measures can have positive influences on companies, as it helps the company’s culture set aims and objectives for a successful approach to marketing orientation. Jobber (2007) also describes the importance of these measures, stating; ‘A marketing concept culture that manifests in corporate activities to create superior value for customers. However, specific marketing activities relating to the behaviour of a company have ‘emphasis on managerial control rather than the natural culture of the organisation’ (Ellis, 2004), which relates to the work of Trout and Ries (1985) and their beliefs of company’s influencing the importance of competitor orientation over the satisfaction of their customers. Sharp (1991) argues the approach to marketing orientation as described by Drucker (1954), saying that it’s more than just about customer focus; Market orientation has a principle element of focusing on available markets and customer needs.

Sharp criticises this view of orientation, as costs of maintaining customer focus will incur in unstable markets, affecting a companies orientation plan. In order to balance this procedure, a company needs equal focus in its approach to marketing orientation, which will help achieve success and efficiency. The link between organisational strategic thinking (Sharp, 1991) and managerial control (Ellis, 2004) helps towards a successful company through competitor orientation. Ellis states that effective performances increase through analysing competitor actions, in order to create a competitor advantage.

However, company’s still need to be responsive to customer needs due to volatile markets. Overall increases of a company’s orientation, resulting from effective customer satisfaction, will then lead to greater performances (Kohli and Jaworski, 1990). The relationship between performance and marketing orientation is analysed negatively to strategic marketing. Sin (2005) considers the ‘external environmental aspects’ of marketing orientation, emphasising the importance of linking performance and marketing orientation in order to meet the needs of customers.

Sin believes that if companies developed their approaches towards linking these two factors, a more in depth examination of customers needs could be undertaken, which would lead to higher performances within the company. Sin agrees with Sharp’s views, by describing the inclusion of customer needs as well as company aims and objectives. A strategic way of thinking is described by Sharp, where marketing orientation is described as being the most relevant, as it focuses on company, and not just market characteristics.

The analyses of various journal articles relating to marketing orientation has led me to understand the different issues relating to marketing orientation. I agree with Kohli and Jaworski (1990) that a company should balance its orientation between customer focus and its aims and objectives, for effective performances. The authors were very clear and focused on what strategies were effective in approaching marketing orientation. I felt that this analysis helped me understand the best method of adopting marketing orientation and how to effectively respond to customer demands, as well as creating a competitive advantage.

Limitations to the analysis were discussions from Felton (1959) and Trout and Ries (1995). The views of these authors concentrated on companies who adopted marketing orientation to create a competitive advantage as its main priority. The context of this article focused totally on businesses success and shadowed the importance of customer orientation, something which I feel is crucial for overall success.