Has the Internet changed The Fundamentals of Marketing?

A couple of years ago I wrote the following article about whether or not the Internet has changed the Fundamentals of Marketing, and since then I have read many articles relating to this topic and I have had many conversations with both professional colleagues and students about whether these fundamentals still apply and whether the Internet needs its own set of Fundamentals. I recently found a site touting the 10 fundamentals of online marketing and while the information was sound, much of it was very familiar in the sense it could be found in one way or another in the Fundamentals of Marketing and the rest were not really what I would consider fundamentals but more basic marketing common sense. I encourage you to click on the link above and read them, and then read on what I have written and you decide.

The question remains has the Internet changed The Fundamentals of Marketing? The fundamentals of marketing are still taught in business and marketing classes in Universities everywhere and are a very real part of business today. Let’s start with a quick refresher of what those fundamentals are and what they mean.

  • ·Marketing Mix – Also known as the Four P’s of marketing is the combination of product, place (distribution), promotion, and price. (1) Product – The features of the product (or service). (2) Place – Where the product is being sold. “Distribution Channels” Location of customers and potential customers, how to get to them. (3) Promotion – The actual marketing of the product/Service through advertising, publicity, promotions. (4) Price – The price the product/service is being sold for.
  • Value Proposition – What makes the product /service valuable? The reason that a company gives a customer to purchase, how they will benefit. The reason one product/service is better than a competitor’s brand.
  • Product Dimensions – The basic operating characteristics of a product or service.
  • Positioning – The creating of an image or an identity of a product/service.
  • Targeting – Who to market to, segmenting the market to a specific set of people.
  • Brand Value – How a product/Service is perceived by the consumer and the marketplace at large.

I have debated with other marketing professionals who claimed that the fundamentals are a set of traditional fundamentals and that while they still apply to traditional marketing, that e-marketing need and deserve its own set of fundamentals. I disagree. To begin with traditional, e-marketing, the line is becoming blurred as the Internet and Internet technology becomes entangled into the fabric of everyday life, personal and business alike.

A year or so ago when I first researched this information BabyCenter, LLC, released research results of a study called “The 21st Century Mom ™ Report” that revealed that having a baby changes purchasing behavior of women. The report shows significant increases of moms’ use of Social Media, up 462 percent from 2006 and the use of cell phones up 348 percent. They use Social Media for recommendations on brands and products and 73 percent felt they find trustworthy information about products and services through online communities and to get advice from other Moms going through the same experiences (babycenter.com, June 2009). In more recent research that is more broad in its scope; Compete’s Summer 2012 Online Shopper Intelligence Survey relayed by eMarketer suggests that most industries can improve website traffic and conversions by building a better presence on the internet. The report focused on industries most frequently associated with the B2C sector and found that more than half of consumers access different forms of web content to research their purchases in the grocery, health and beauty, household essentials and pet supply industries. (brafton.com) Brafton also recently cited data from an About.com study that found more than 80 percent of consumers won’t buy from companies they don’t trust. Many of these consumers said they hold more favorable views of companies that provide information demonstrating authority within their industries.

The Internet is being used to advertise traditional products and services and traditional media is being used to advertise websites and online businesses. So does this change the fundamentals of marketing, do they stay the same, does their meanings change or are they evolving?  I believe that how they are applied may be different, but the fundamentals themselves are the same; the vehicle that is being used to market doesn’t change the fundamentals, if they did there would be a different set of fundamentals of marketing for TV/Radio, a different for print, and another for outside media like billboards, but there’s not. Let’s look at the fundamentals of marketing from an online perspective;

  • Marketing Mix
  1. Product: The only change is the Internet has been added as a viable advertising media.
  2. Place – traditional brick n mortar: store front, retail location. Online: ecommerce storefront website. Channels of Distribution: resellers, can be traditional, online or both.
  3. Promotion: Two main media’s TV/Radio and Print has evolved into three media’s to include the Internet.
  4. Price: price remains the same in some cases and in some instances price is less when ordering is done online.
  • Value Proposition; is a product or service’s value changed because it is now being marketed online? In most cases the answer would be no, unless the value proposition is because of the Internet, like Amazon.com who doesn’t have an offline presence, their value is convenience and price.
  • Product Dimensions do not change much based on the media used to promote, in some cases the product dimensions may be the Internet itself such as Search Engine Marketing or ITunes. In these cases the Product Dimensions were not changed, just new ones created.
  • Positioning isn’t really effected because of the Internet. An expensive luxury car may be positioned as an image of class and stature, the Internet does not change that positioning, it simply gives it more opportunity to promote brand awareness.
  • Targeting has been effected the most profoundly by the Internet because though it has not changed the definition in any way it has opened the door to a myriad of new opportune methods of targeting.
  • Brand Value – I have heard the argument that the Internet has changed the meaning of brand value because a product or service is exposed to more people since the advent of the Internet. I disagree it has not changed the meaning; it has simply given the product or service more exposure adding to the opinion of the brand which may or may not change the value.

All in all it is my belief that the fundamentals of marketing are sound as they have ever been and whether they are being used in a traditional setting or an online one, the principles should still be applied as they have always been.