As you prepare for your WA/PI, most of the questions asked by the students (again mostly engineers) is about what to specialize on. The main reason here is they don’t know what each stream has to offer as a career. For example, people perceive marketing as “selling a product like a salesman does”. A good MBA program firstly will help you overcome this fact and cause a paradigm shift. This is more pronounced if the professor is as amazing as the subject. We, at IIM Raipur, have been taught by some of the best professors in Marketing and I can safely say many of my peers would be majoring in Marketing with me.
The subject of marketing is very pervasive but unfortunately we consider two things when we consider Marketing: Advertising and Selling. Let me begin by asking you one question, if I told you that Bata makes ice Cream, would you buy it? Let me tell you what came to your mind “Bata is shoes not ice cream”. Or If Govinda is roped by Aston Martin as its brand ambassador you may find yourself saying “How can they sell a luxury car with Govinda as its Ambassador”. These are just a part of the questions you would be facing in marketing. Consider another interesting piece of fact, when Nestle Coffee was first introduced into India it did not take off, even in South India where coffee drinking is taken as seriously as Carnatic music. It was not because there was something wrong with the coffee. So why did it fail? The users did not see any value. Solution: Coffee in a glass container which can be used to store spices, sugar etc., once the coffee was finished and the product was a hit. So what did Nestle sell? It was a glass bottle that also had coffee. With this I welcome you to the fascinating world of Marketing.
So what is marketing all about? I won’t get into the definition here, it broadly revolves around the 4Ps popularized by Philip Kotler (it was proposed by E. Jerome McCarthy) and is also known as the Marketing Mix. The four Ps are Product, Price, Place and Promotion. According to Drucker “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself”, essentially making selling redundant, though in real life this is hard to achieve. The product that has come the closest to achieving it is the Apple iPhone. (If you don’t have an iPhone, well, you don’t have an iPhone).
To understand Marketing one must study if it were a philosophy. It is both a science and an art. When you treat it that way, you not only understand the subject in the best possible way, but also start relating the subject with your own self. To elaborate, you start understanding what all skills are required if you want to specialize in that subject. At this point, when you know what the subject has to offer and what you need to offer to the subject, you are in the best position to judge whether you have to specialise in this subject or not.
Another aspect a good faculty adds to the subject is the motivation part. This is generally required for a subject like Marketing, especially for engineers who find it difficult to appreciate intangible things like ‘brand value etc.’ It is only when you are taught Marketing like philosophy and not like a process that real and true knowledge is imparted. It is then you realise that if you have problem solving skills, good listening skills, a concern for people, their needs and feelings and a habit to dream and fantasize, you have it all that a marketer should have. The world of marketing is dynamic, fast evolving and requires one to shed preconceived notions.
An individual with the above skills, will very easily start understanding the needs and wants of a consumer and also that the consumer is always ‘the king’. It is music for him, to understand the dynamics of competition amidst challenges like market penetration, market development and product development. Very easily can one then relate the ‘Rs.5 Coke Aamir Khan’ campaign with the fact it was targeted to the rural markets of India and that Mahindra Bolero is positioned as a rugged, rough and tough car, targeting people of the same kind. Not to forget that HUL made Lux a mass product and Dove a premium one. We learn that when a product is launched it is focused on a certain section of the society and with a certain perception. Irrespective of what features or price it has, it is the benefit and value of the product that a consumer perceives which is important. Dividing people based on demographics is a myopic act. Rather one should analyse markets in terms of psychography, mediagraphy and behavioural aspects. When you are taught that a competitor of the aeroplane industry is not only the railways, but also Video Conferencing, you realise that you have touched a certain level.
Companies to look for: Hindustan Unilever, Kraft Foods, P&G, ITC, Tata Motors, Banking and Financial Services, Airtel, Vodafone, JWT, Leo Burnett, O&M, Coca Cola, Pepsi and practically any company under the sun.
Why marketing: If you are passionate to work in an environment that requires interaction with clients/customers, handling distributors and suppliers and developing some of the best known brands.