What is a marketing orientation?

This post will give you a guide to a marketing orientation and what this might mean for your business, with some tips and action-points  for what you can do immediately and when you’re planning for next year.

I was shocked in November 2021, when I read about the difficulties at Tesco with respect to their online Christmas shopping slots for which they’ve issued an apology to all their customers, you can read the bbc news item HERE. I don’t want any of my readers to make a similar mistake.

What is a marketing orientation?

A marketing orientation places your customer at the centre of every business decision ,in contrast to a production orientation which stems from the capability of an organisation. In the words of Prof. Paul Fyfield:
What you produce must be driven solely by what the marketplace requires and not by what your business can produce. This is the classic distinction between production and marketing orientations.” (Fyfield Marketing Strategy, 1992 p.201).

An easy way to remember these two approaches is:

  • Production orientation = sell what you have, vs.
  • Marketing orientation = Create what people want to buy.

I am illustrating this topic with sprouts. Yes, Christmas should be on your radar now, regardless of when you read this post.  Christmas is the most predictable event in the year for which you can plan all year.

Farming sprouts is an excellent example of a marketing orientation in action. As consumers we are familiar with the traditional link between sprouts and Christmas.

However, it’s different for UK farmers as explained by Stefan in Farmers Weekly:
“Growing sprouts is a year-round operation on 104 hectares, with a spread of harvest from August for the earliest-maturing varieties right through to April. it is the peak Christmas period that has the biggest effect on which varieties are chosen and the fields they will be grown on, and their yield is crucial as 40% of the UK area will be harvested in December”, explains agronomist Stefan Williams. (Farmers Weekly)

A guide to Marketing orientation illustrated by sprouts:

From the outset of your business venture, It is fundamental to a marketing orientation, for you to have an in-depth knowledge of your target customers:
1. Align your production process with customer demand: First, you must know the pattern of your customers’ buying behaviour. Does your annual business cycle have peaks and troughs? Farmers harvest sprouts in December because that’s when shoppers want to buy them.

2. Knowledge of customer motivation: Do you know why your customers buy your product? Farmers can rely on the tradition of sprouts with Christmas feasting. Is there a motivation for purchase which you can exploit?

3. Anticipate predictable needs: Have you planned to meet your customers’ needs? Perhaps like sprout farmers, you have a long-term approach to meet them developed over months, Alternatively, you might adapt your product to personalise it for each customer.

A personal response is excellent. However, it brings the disadvantages of labour-intensiveness ,and limited scale, a farmer wouldn’t grow a sweeter sprout especially for your family. You can keep control of your business with its marketing orientation by regularly conducting a review of your portfolio analysis as I explain here

A well managed product portfolio built around a customer-focussed marketing orientation should permit you to satisfy every customer on time while you operate an efficient, profitable business. In my opinion Tesco should have anticipated their online bottle-neck for shopping slots Enjoy your Christmas preparations with out any additional crises for resolution.

all items reproduced with full permission from bbc.co.uk