What is Market Orientation?

Malcolm Tatum

Market orientation is an approach that involves careful consideration of the wants and needs of consumers, and how a given business can go about meeting those consumer demands with the use of products that the business either manufactures or markets to customers. Along with focusing on how the actual goods and services provided can satisfy consumers, this type of market psychology also takes into consideration what a business can do in terms of customer service and support as a means of distinguishing the company in the minds of current and potential customers. This dual approach makes the customer the central focus of the operation, rather than making assumptions about what customers want or need.

Man climbing a rope
Man climbing a rope

As part of the market orientation process, a business will use various strategies to connect with consumers and obtain information regarding what customers perceive as immediate and urgent needs. Compiling data obtained from a wide cross-section of consumers makes it possible to identify what type of new products would meet those needs and desires, as well as how to enhance current products as a means of broadening their appeal. For example, if a manufacturer of laundry detergent found that input from consumers indicated they would buy one brand of detergent more frequently if it were available with a particular scent, the company may begin to produce a line of that brand with that scent. Here, the emphasis is on continuing to maintain a product that meets needs, but also fulfills a stated want of a significant number of consumers.

The process of market orientation goes beyond simply responding to stated needs and desires of consumers. Often, the collected data will provide clues regarding needs that consumers either do not readily perceive or associate with a given product, or even future needs that have yet to materialize. This type of proactive anticipation of consumer needs can be a powerful marketing tool, since it sends a clear message to consumers that the company does listen and is constantly thinking about ways to make life easier for their customers. This subtle but effective message can often help build consumer loyalty, a factor that is particularly important in competitive markets when customers have a wide range of choices.

Market orientation as a tool in conjunction with other market strategies, such as competitor orientation. In this combination, the business is receiving information from consumers that make it possible to meet needs and wants with increasing efficiency. With the inclusion of competitor orientation along with market orientation, the business is looking closely at what businesses offering similar goods and services are offering to consumers, and what seems to be making an impact on consumer purchasing patterns. Combining data from these two different sources can often make it possible to identify ways to more effectively market current product lines, and develop new ones that are both attractive to consumers and compete well with others in the marketplace.

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