Marketing may be studied by different approaches. To facilitate the study these approaches may be broadly classified as follows:
- Commodity Approach: The first approach is the commodity approach under which a specific commodity is selected and then its marketing methods and environments are studied in the course of its movement from producer to consumer. In this approach, the subject matter of discussion centers around the specific commodity selected for the study and includes the sources and conditions of supply, nature and extent of demand, the distribution channels used, promotional methods adopted etc.
- Functional Approach: The second approach is the functional approach under which the study concentrates on the specialized functions or services performed by the marketers and the problems faced by them in performing those functions. Such marketing functions include buying, selling, storage, standardizing, transport, finance, risk-bearing, market information etc. This approach certainly enables one to gain detailed knowledge on various functions of marketing.
- Institutional Approach: The third approach is the institutional approach under which the main interest centers around the institutions or agencies that perform marketing functions. Such agencies include wholesalers, retailers, mercantile agents and facilitating institutions like transport undertakings, banks, insurance companies etc. This approach helps one to find out the operating methods adopted by these institutions and the various problems faced because institutions and to know how whey work together in fulfilling their objectives.
- Management Approach: In the management approach, the focus of marketing study is on the decision-making process involved in the performance of marketing function at the level of a firm. The study encompasses discussion of the different underlying concepts, decision influencing factors, alternative strategies – their relative importance, strengths and weaknesses and techniques and methods of problem-solving. This approach entails the study of marketing at the micro-level of a business firm – of the managerial functions of analysis, planning, implementation, co-ordination and control in relation to the marketing functions of creating, stimulating, facilitating and valuing transactions.
- System Approach: Modern marketing is complex, vast and sophisticated and it influences the entire economy and standard of living of people. Hence marketing experts have developed one more approach namely ‘System approach’. Under this approach, marketing itself is considered as a sub-system of economic, legal and competitive marketing system. The marketing system operates in an environment of both controllable and uncontrollable forces of the organisation. The controllable forces include all aspects of products, price, physical distribution and promotion. The uncontrollable forces include economic, socio-logical, psychological and political forces. The organisation has to develop a suitable marketing programme by taking into consideration both these controllable and uncontrollable forces to meet the changing demands of the society. The system approach, in fact, examines this aspect and also integrates commodity, functional, institutional and managerial approaches. Further, this approach emphasizes the importance of the use of ‘market information’ is marketing programmes.
Thus from the foregoing discussion, one could easily understand about various approaches to the study of marketing and the systems approach is considered to be the best approach as it provides a strong base for logical and orderly analysis and planning of marketing activities.