Mass Marketing

Companies have not always practised target marketing. In fact, for most of the twentieth century, major consumer-products companies held fast to mass marketing - mass producing, mass distributing and mass promoting about the same product in about the same way to all consumers. Henry Ford epitomized this marketing strategy when he offered the Model T Ford to all buyers; they could have the car 'in any colour as long as it is black'. That cost Ford the world market leadership that it has never regained.

The traditional argument for mass marketing is that it creates the largest potential market, which leads to the lowest costs, which in turn can translate into either lower prices or higher margins. However, many factors now make mass marketing more difficult. For example, the world's mass markets have slowly splintered into a profusion of smaller segments - the baby boomer segment here, the generation Xers there; here the Asian market, there the black market; here working women, there single parents; people living close to the Arctic circle, those living on the Mediterranean. It is very hard to create a single product or programme that appeals to all of these diverse groups. The proliferation of advertising media and distribution channels has also made it difficult to practise 'one size fits all' marketing:

[Consumers] have more ways to shop: at out of town malls, specialty shops, and superstores; through mail-order catalogs, home shopping networks, and virtual stores on the Internet. And they are bombarded with messages pitched through a growing number of channels: broadcast and narrow-cast television, radio, online computer networks, the Internet, telephone services such as fax and telemarketing, and niche magazines and other print media.1

segment marketing Adapting a company's offerings so they more closely match the needs of one or more segments.

No wonder some have claimed that mass marketing is dying. Not surprisingly, many companies are retreating from mass marketing and turning to segmented marketing.

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