The History of Marketing: From Rags to Riches

Women Making Clothes

Marketing is everywhere today. It completely inundates our daily lives. To fully understand what marketing is today, its importance and why commerce relies so heavily on it, we must back up and look at where it came from. It may sound boring, but we learn some of our most valuable lessons from our history. Let’s discuss the evolution of marketing.

The Trade Orientation Era

The origin of marketing follows commerce and trade. Way before any of us were born in the 18th Century, modern luxuries were not available. The only commerce that took place was for the necessities – food, clothing, shelter and medicines.

Many people at this time did not even have money to trade with. At this time, trade was completed by the barter system of goods. You might give your neighbour a carton of eggs, in return for blankets they had knit.

The Industrial Revolution

Closer to the end of the 18th Century and into the 19th century, there was a shift in technology. Not technology in the way we are familiar today, but rather innovation for production methods. This time was a period of very rapid social change, which was driven largely by innovations in science and engineering.

A consequence of these shifts is that for the first time in history, the production of goods was separated from consumption. Producers now made not only what was immediately needed but also produced goods for future demand. Mass production lead to the development of a transportation infrastructure and caused producers to develop more sophisticated methods of distributing their goods.

At this time people began moving into industrialized cities for jobs and away from their farms. These workers began to earn a wage that they could spend on necessities.

The Production Orientation Era

For the majority of the industrial revolution, produced goods were still fairly scarce because they were being purchased at a rate greater than producers could keep up with. For this reason, the focus of the producers was on production and distribution at the lowest cost for them in order to widen their profit margins.

Marketing management appeared in its first form here as issues with reducing production and distribution costs, opening new markets were also considered.

The Sales Orientation Era

From the beginning of the 20th century, to the time just after the end of the Second World War, competition grew amongst producers. After the wars began, production was even more important. Women were hired to work in factories to ensure production continued to flow smoothly.

After WWII, the concept of marketing and reducing costs shifted to the idea of selling due to increased competition. Communications, advertising and branding started to become more important because producers needed to sell more in a market space that was becoming more and more crowded.

Marketing at this time was still largely a part of production, but focused on distribution, communication and persuading consumers that your product(s) were better than that of your competitors.

Man looking at Chalkboard

From around the 1960s many markets became saturated with the number of producers making similar products. This meant that competition for consumers attention grew exponentially. Marketers are involved at a strategic level within the organization and therefore inform an organization about what should be produced, where it should be sold, how much should be charged for it and how it should be communicated to consumers (4 P’s of Marketing).

Modern marketers began to research markets and their consumers more closely. As technology grew and evolved, so did marketing. Welcome the age of inbound marketing. The digital age has ushered in a new wave of marketing utilizing technology like never before.

The Historical Stages of Marketing: An Infographic

An infographic about the history of marketing pre-digital age.

Now that you know marketing history and evolution, stay tuned to find out how marketing shifted into the modern form of digital marketing that we deal with every day. If you are looking for the best full-service marketing team you can find, contact the experts at WEB ROI.


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