Today's companies face tough competition and things will only get harder. In previous chapters, we argued that to succeed in today's fiercely competitive markets, companies have to move from a product and selling philosophy to a customer and marketing philosophy. This chapter tells in more detail how companies can win customers and outperform competitors. The answer lies in the marketing concept - in doing a better job of meeting and satisfying customer needs.
In sellers' markets - those characterized by shortages and near-monopolies -companies do not make special efforts to please customers. In eastern Europe, for example, millions of would-be consumers used to stand sullenly in line for hours only to receive poorly made clothes, toiletries, appliances and other products at high prices. Producers and retailers showed little concern for customer satisfaction with goods and services. Sellers paid relatively little heed to marketing theory and practice.
In buyers' markets, in contrast, customers can choose from a wide array of goads and services. In these markets, if sellers fail to deliver acceptable product and service quality, they will quickly lose customers to competitors. Also, what is acceptable today may not be acceptable to tomorrow's ever-more-demanding consumers. Consumers are becoming more educated and demanding, and their quality expectations have been raised by the practices of superior manufacturers and retailers. The decline of many traditional western industries in recent years -cars, cameras, machine tools, consumer electronics - offers dramatic evidence that firms offering only average quality lose their consumer franchises when attacked by superior competitors.
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