A Short History of Marketing

History of marketingI am currently reading a book on Improving Marketing Effectiveness by Robert Shaw (a Economist publication). It has a very interesting section on the origins of marketing as a discipline. It is always helpful to understand the origins of a discipline/idea/organization etc. to have an idea of the future of the same.

According to Shaw marketing as we know it today originated in America taking advantage of the huge, and largely homogeneous, domestic market. This evolution was primarily aided by the rise of the railroads and general improvement of transport in the 19th century. Traveling salesmen (and this is how the Traveling Salesman problem originated) traversed the country selling every known cure, stimulant, medicine and treatment.

By early 20th century premiums, free samples, catalogs and advertising had developed in an effort to lend a helping hand to the traveling salesman. And brands became household names.

In 1931 P&G introduced the first formal marketing role: the brand manager. By 1967, 84% of large CPG companies in the US had brand managers. But marketing took too little of the consumer early on and received a lot of flak from all around. Including from John F. Kennedy. But marketing did not have much of a strategic influence since it mostly developed as an offshoot of sales.

So the primary problem has always been the central question of “what is the role of marketing” and “how do you measure whether it is successful or not”. Marketers have for too long avoided the question of measurement and it is clearly how things are trending today. Today a third of marketers say that proving results to top management is their priority. But almost half say that measurement of effectiveness is the least developed marketing function in their organization.

So where is marketing headed today? Surely towards more and more measurement. It is destined to be more of a science henceforth than an art.

[image: Flickr/Emilie Ogez]