Marketing Is Ever thing - Harvard Business Review
M arketing Is Ever thing
by Re gis McKe nna
The 1990s will belong to the customer. And that is great news for the marketer.
Technology is transforming choice, and choice is transforming the marketplace. As a result, we are witnessing the emergence of a
new marketing paradigm—not a “do more” marketing that simply turns up thevolume on the sales spiels of the past but a
knowledge- and experience-based marketing that represents the once-and-for-all death of the salesman.
Marketing s transformation is driven by the enormous power and ubiquitous spread of technology. So pervasive is technology today
that it is virtually meaningless to make distinctions between technology and nontechnology businesses and industries: thereare
only technology companies. Technology has moved into products, the workplace, and the marketplace with astonishing speed and
thoroughness. Seventy years after they were invented, fractional horsepower motors are in some 15 to 20 household products in
the average American home today. In less than 20 years, the microprocessor has achieved a similar penetration. Twenty years
ago, there werefewer than 50,000 computers in use; today more than 50,000 computers are purchased every day.
The defining characteristic of this new technological push is programmability. In a computer chip, programmability means the
capability to alter a command, so that one chip can perform a variety of prescribed functions and produce a variety of prescribed
outcomes. On the factory floor, programmabilitytransforms the production operation, enabling one machine to produce a wide
variety of models and products. More broadly, programmability is the new corporate capability to produce more and more varieties
and choices for customers—even to offer each individual customer the chance to design and implement the “program” that will yield
the precise product, service, or variety that is right for himor her. The technological promise of programmability has exploded into
the reality of almost unlimited choice.
Take the world of drugstores and supermarkets. According to Gorm an s New Product News, which tracks new product
introductions in these two consumer-products arenas, between 1985 and 1989 the number of new products grew by an astonishing
60% to an all-time annual high of 12,055. Asvenerable a brand as Tide illustrates this multiplication of brand variety. In 1946,
Procter & Gamble introduced the laundry detergent, the first ever. For 38 years, one version of Tide served the entire market. Then,
in the mid-1980s, Procter & Gamble began to bring out a succession of new Tides: Unscented Tide and Liquid Tide in 1984, Tide
with Bleach in 1988, and the concentrated Ultra Tide in1990.
To some marketers, the creation of almost unlimited customer choice represents a threat—particularly when choice is
accompanied by new competitors. Twenty years ago, IBM had only 20 competitors; today it faces more than 5,000, when you count
any company that is in the “computer” business. Twenty years ago, there were fewer than 90 semiconductor companies; today
there are almost 300 inthe United States alone. And not only are the competitors new, bringing with them new products and new
strategies, but the customers also are new: 90% of the people who used a computer in 1990 were not using one in 1980. These
new customers don t know about the old rules, the old understandings, or the old ways of doing business—and they don t care.
What they do care about is a company that iswilling to adapt its products or services to fit their strategies. This represents the
evolution of marketing to the market-driven company.
Several decades ago, there were sales-driven companies. These organizations focused their energies on changing customers
minds to fit the product—practicing the “any color as long as it s black” school of marketing.
As technology developed and competition...