Before exploring the theme of the marketing of Scotch whisky it would be
helpful to define what marketing is about and why it is an important discipline
for the successful conduct of any business today.
Philip Kotler, of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern
University, and one of the leading academics in the field, defines marketing
as ‘the set of human activities directed at facilitating and consummating
exchanges’ (Kotler, 1999). This definition is concerned with decisions by people,
either individually or in groups, conducting voluntary activities.
Marketing covers exchanges that are either one-time transactions or those
that concern building lasting relationships between buyers and sellers. The
marketing process is a two-sided discipline, where both buyers and sellers can
be actively involved. In terms of what is being exchanged, the key point is that
it concerns something that has value to one or both parties.
A narrower definition of marketing that is relevant to the practice of the
discipline is ‘the management of all the functions required to [copyright] satisfy
consumers and maximize profit in the long run for the company’. This definition
puts the spotlight on the consumer, being the person who counts most in
transactions and is the focus of attention. It also highlights the motivation of
companies, which is the pursuit of profits over the long run, which in turn
depend upon the revenues derived from recurring customer and consumer
demand. Returning again to Kotler, marketing management is ‘the analysis,
planning, implementation, and control of programmes designed to bring about
desired exchanges with target audiences for the purpose of personal or mutual
gain’. Reliance is placed upon coordinating and adapting the key variables for
achieving an effective response from the consumer. McCarthy popularized a
four-factor classification of the marketing decision variables, the ‘four Ps’:
Product, Promotion, and Place, Price (Figure 10.1). This article explores these
four variables and shows how firms practising marketing use these tools to
influence sales and pursue long-term profitability. It will also become clear that
each of the ‘Ps’ is in reality a collection of instruments.
The four Ps.
Emphasis in these definitions is put on the management process to achieve a
desired end result. Without a proactive effort in terms of time, effort, skill and
dedication the marketing process will just not happen, and achieving any set
of objectives will be hit and miss. Marketing demands engagement, and is best
carried out with passion, imagination and flair tempered with discipline.
Marketers need a sense of what levers to pull in order to capture the custom
of the consumers they are targeting. Successful entrepreneurs usually have an
ingrained understanding and appreciation of marketing, but even if marketing
is not a science it can be taught and most certainly learnt through practice.
Those who practise marketing should not be afraid of error, because very often
the best lessons are gleaned from failed experiments.