Department of Marketing

Title

The End of Mass Marketing: or, Why All Successful Marketing is Now Direct Marketing

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Fall 2007

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to make the case that the traditional mass marketing approach practiced for decades is no longer a viable one. By looking historically at how mass marketing corrupted much of American business and alienated prospects and customers, the argument is made that it is time for a change. Design/methodology/approach – Mass marketing has lead to downright hostility in the marketplace. With more than 3,000 messages thrown at them everyday, Americans spend far too much of their day waging war with the marketing department. Findings – The outsourcing of high-paying jobs from the US to low-wage markets often has more to do with mass marketing in the domestic market than global forces. The abrogation of control of their sales and distribution functions by manufacturers in the name of bigger markets has lead to the creation of mega distributors like Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and the US auto-dealer network. This loss of control and the inability to influence what ultimately happens to their products – including the price they can command in the marketplace – has lead many manufacturers to chase the cheapest labor around the world as the only way to grow the bottom line. Practical implications – For companies of all sizes, there exists the opportunity to cut through the noise and build relationships with their targeted micro-market. The solution is direct marketing. Originality/value – The conventional wisdom that more customers and more sales driven by mass marketing leads to profitability is simply not the case. This paper discusses how a direct marketing strategy provides the most effective way for companies build relationships with their best and most profitable customers.