Modern Marketing

At all points of the modern marketing system people have formed associations and eliminated various middlemen in order to achieve more efficient marketing. Manufacturers often maintain their own wholesale departments and deal directly with retailers. Independent stores may operate their own wholesale agencies to supply them with goods. Wholesale houses operate outlets for their wares, and farmers sell their products through their own wholesale cooperatives. Recent years have seen the development of wholesale clubs, which sell retail items to consumers who purchase memberships that give them the privilege of shopping at wholesale prices. Commodity exchanges, such as those of grain and cotton, enable businesses to buy and sell commodities for both immediate and future delivery.
Methods of merchandising have also been changed to attract customers. The one-price system, probably introduced (1841) by A. T. Stewart in New York, saves sales clerks from haggling and promotes faith in the integrity of the merchant. Advertising has created an international market for many items, especially trademarked and labeled goods. In 1999 more than $308 billion was spent on advertising in the United States alone. The number of customers, especially for durable goods, has been greatly increased by the practice of extending credit, particularly in the form of installment buying and selling. Customers also buy through mail-order catalogs (much expanded from the original catalog sales business of the late 1800s), by placing orders to specialized "home-shopping" television channels, and through on-line transactions ("e-commerce") on the Internet.
Services are marketed in much the same manner as goods and commodities. Sometimes a service, like that of a repair person or physician, is marketed through the same act that produces it. Personal services may also be brokered by employment agencies, booking agents for concert or theatrical performers, travel agents, and the like. Methods of marketing now include market research, motivational research, and other means of determining consumer acceptability of a product before the producer decides to manufacture and market it on a large scale. Market research, often conducted by means of telephone interviews with consumers, is a major industry in itself, with the top 50 U.S. marketing firms tallying revenues of $5.9 billion in 1998.

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