Technology has been changing at an ever increasing pace. The birth of the Internet, the ever present smart phones, Social Media, and instant global communications are just a few of the ways technology has changed our lives. Just as technology has changed our lives, so too has technology changed how marketers do their work. Technology now plays a key role in the marketing process, in ways unimaginable just 25 years ago.
Technology is playing a dominant role in marketing today in two fundamental ways. First, changes in the technological macroenvironment are creating both new product and new market opportunities. Second, new developments in technology are changing the way marketers execute nearly every phase of their marketing plans and strategies. (Soleman, 2014)
Every company operates within a macroenvironment. The forces of that macroenvironment have generally been divided into political/legal, socio/cultural, economic, demographic and technological forces. Marketers study and observe changes in those forces on a regular basis to determine how those changes might affect the needs and wants of their target markets. As they determine how those needs and wants are changing, marketers look to develop new products and services to meet those changing needs and wants.
Out of all the forces in the macroenvironment, the technological forces are driving the most extensive changes in needs and wants of the consumer market today. Let’s just look at two – mobile phone technology and the Internet. In just the last 20 years, communication technology has evolved from a land line to a beeper, to a cell phone, to a camera phone, to a smartphone that doubles as a portable computer. At every step along the way, advances in technology created the opportunity for the development of new products using those latest advances. Marketers in the cell phone industry have been under constant pressure to keep rolling out the latest and best products to stay one step ahead of the competition. Those new products also keep pushing the new product development of related products. For example, Apple Inc. just rolled out the iPhone 6, which has a built in instant payment system, ApplePay. Consumers love the feature but for it to work, retailers will have to install new point of sale terminals designed to work with ApplePay. That’s another whole new product line and a new service that retailers will have to provide to remain competitive.
Advances in technology have driven the growth of the Internet, to the point where the use of the Internet has become a mainstream part of our lifestyles and culture. It has changed how we shop, how we communicate, how we gather and store information, and what we do for entertainment, just to mention a few of the most basic changes. Every one of those changes has created the need or want for hundreds of new products and services, all developed by eager marketers. (MBA-Exchange.com, 2014)
While I have discussed just two trends in the technology macroenvironment, there are numerous others that are driving new product development. The development of high definition televisions and smart televisions have driven hundreds of new products as consumers rushed to swap out their old televisions for the newer high definition televisions. Computer processing has become faster and smaller. Your smart phone has more memory and capabilities than your old desktop, motivating users to stand in line for the newest releases with the latest features and benefits. Home security systems allow you to turn on lights and lock doors while you are miles away from your home, thanks to new communication technologies. Video conferencing has replaced the sales call, also because of new communications technology.
Recent changes in technology have fundamentally changed the way marketers develop plans and execute marketing strategy. (Brinker & McLellen, 2014) For example, the growth of the Internet has opened up the opportunity for E-Commerce. Now, to be taken seriously by its customers, every company has to at least have a basic web site. Technologically savvy customers want much more than that, however. When they visit your web site, they want information about your company, your product line, your pricing, a way to electronically communicate with you and a way to buy your products. The whole concept of how marketers interact with and communicate with their customers has changed and continues to change. While some businesses are just adjusting to E-Commerce (the buying of goods and services using your desktop or laptop computer), consumers are pushing for the availability of M-Commerce (the purchase of goods and services using your mobile device or Smart Phone) (Sklar, 2014)
One of the Four P’s of marketing is Place. This refers to not only how you make your products available for purchase, but the supply chain you put together to make sure your inventories are at the right place, in the right quantities at the right time. The use of Radio Frequency Identification Transmitters (RFID) is an almost futuristic technology that allows you to track your products from the factory door to the checkout lane. Now marketers can work together with their retail partners to minimize or altogether eliminate out of stock conditions, resulting in increased product sales.
The growth of the Internet and technology has driven a new phenomenon in how we communicate – Social Media. Customers are deeply involved with Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and dozens of other similar web sites where your customers interact with others of like-minded interests. It’s not unusual for people to spend 1 or 2 hours a day or more on these sites.
The challenge this presents to marketers requires new and innovative ways to advertise to your target market.(Soleman, 2014) For many years, marketers could advertise on television, radio and in newspapers and effectively reach their target market. Not anymore. If customers are watching television, it might be cable television which has no advertisements. Or if they are watching traditional programming, there is a good chance they have taped the program and will fast forward through any commercials. Rather than listen to the radio, customers listen to paid programming like Sirrius or listen to their own CD’s they have downloaded to their smartphones. Instead of reading a newspaper, customers get their information from 24/7 cable news sites. It is estimated that by 2018 that one third of all advertising will be digital advertising. (Lungard, 2014)
New technology has changed the way customers spend their free time, entertain themselves and get information. First, marketers have to understand how the use of Social Media has changed the lifestyles of their target market. Second, marketers have to be able to find ways to use this new technology themselves to advertise to their target market and inform them of new product features and benefits, pricing adjustments or any other information that might motivate them to buy their products. (MBA-Exchange.com, 2014) Doing this through Facebook, YouTube and similar sites is still a work in progress, but eventually marketers will figure out how to do it effectively.
In summary, the role of technology in marketing today is incredibly important. Changes in technology have changed our lives and lifestyles in incredible ways. And it’s not just change. It’s the pace of change, driven by the pace of changes and improvements in technology. Marketers are constantly being asked to hit a moving target. It is only by understanding these changes and using that technology themselves that marketers will be able to continue being successful in their work
How has technology changed the role of Marketing Retrieved October 29, 2014, from http://www.mba-exchange.com/candidates/How-Has-Technology-Changed-The-Role-Of-Marketing-In-The-Past-Ten-Years,-And-How-Do-You-See-It-Changing-In-The-Next-Five-285-session-
Soleman, P. (2014, May 27). New role unites marketing and technology - FT.com. Retrieved October 29, 2014, from http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/227945d6-df60-11e3-86a4-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3HYQW8eGo
Lungard, J. (2014, September 5). The role of the 'Chief Marketing Technologist' Retrieved October 29, 2014, from https://econsultancy.com/blog/65406-the-role-of-the-chief-marketing-technologist#i.1fcjtlp1dc7dzp
Brinker, S., & McLellan, L. (2014, August 1). The Rise of the Chief Marketing Technologist. Retrieved October 29, 2014, from http://hbr.org/2014/07/the-rise-of-the-chief-marketing-technologist/ar/1
Sklar, C. (2014, February 4). The Role of the CMO is Dead. Retrieved October 29, 2014, from http://www.theguardian.com/media-network/media-network-blog/2014/feb/19/cmo-role-dead-customer-officer-engagement