Is marketing dead? Two trends turning marketing thinking up side down.

The traditional marketing “segmentation-targeting-positioning” approach requires you to try and find a homogenous customer segment with specific needs, and serve it with a product that answers that need. Some people advocate that this approach is dead, stupid and outdated. I don’t think so: it is just that it has slowly been robbed from its utility.

The reasons for this are twofold: product overload & technology dominance

“With markets overloaded with products, opportunities to truly create disruptive innovation and new products are scarcer”

The reality is that most marketers in their daily jobs are dealing with existing products, not truly inventing new ones. Let’s admit it, consumers are overloaded with products as they are.

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source: syntagmaviaggi.it

Truly engaging in new product creation is more and more rare, and the best marketers can usually do now, is bring them tiny incremental innovations, to try and sell more of them to increasingly bored consumers.

Think you are going to go and work at Unilever and revolutionize the global ice cream industry? (dear students, I am talking to you) Think twice. The segmentation-targeting positioning framework is obsolete because we don’t truly innovate anymore.

Another reason why we don’t innovate so much in marketing anymore is because more and more product innovations are concentrated in the technology/digital areas. And believe it or not, technology products are not so much ideated by marketers, as they are by IT guys or engineers. Technology specialists gain more and more marketing skills and use their own product development tools.

“Tech specialists are taking marketers’ jobs

Yes, IT guys like them. Source: The IT Crowd.
Yes, IT guys like them. Source: The IT Crowd.

As a result: a) adjust your expectations if you are going into marketing and want to do product development and b) if you don’t want to adjust your expectations, get into technology…or social marketing. With the world turning its head upside down an markets as well as economic and political climates being more and more uncertain, there is dire need to design solutions with social and societal impact (but even then, you will probably need an IT guy on board!)