Any conscientious company that hopes to maintain or improve its position relative to its competition is always looking at ways to improve its product. That has never been truer than in the current era with personal electronic devices a ubiquitous presence in most lives. The competition among cell phone manufacturers, for example, is sufficiently intense that each such manufacturer is constantly investing in research and the development of newer, better, items. Competition in any category of retail requires such attention to product improvement. Marketing, similarly, has to conform to the level and nature of the competition. Once upon a time, the phrase “new and improved” was a sine qua non of marketing – a way of ensuring customers and rivals that the manufacturer was sitting around counting its money but actively looking at ways to improve its product. That those improvements would often involve minor or cosmetic changes was irrelevant; the point was, the individual manufacturer was intent on conveying the image of continuous product improvement. Marketing is all about selling the product; it’s about attracting new customers while retaining current ones, and it about subliminally planting one’s image and name in the subconscious of as many consumers as possible. Continuous product improvement is about investing resources in actually developing a better product. One generally precedes the other, but it is a large degree of symbiosis in the relationship between the two.
The relationship between the process of continuous quality improvement (CQI) and the marketing process is one that goes in both directions. That is, the marketing process impacts the process of CQI and the CQI process impacts the marketing process. This might be contrary to what we would expect.
Many people will expect that the process of CQI will affect the process of marketing, but they will not expect that the influence will flow in the other way as well. This likely comes out of a misunderstanding of the marketing process. The marketing process is not simply a process by which a firm tries to get consumers to buy its product. Instead, this is also a process in which the firm learns about the needs and wants of the consumers. This allows there to be a two-way flow of influence between CQI and marketing.
The process of CQI is (as we would expect from its name) a process in which a firm or an organization attempts to constantly improve the quality of the product that it offers its customers or clients. As it does this, it must learn from the marketing process. At the same time, it must share the improvements that it makes with the marketing department.
In the process of marketing, firms find out what their customers want. They find out what the customers like about the product as it currently is. They find out what the customers would like to see changed. Both of these things are important pieces of information for the people who are in charge of CQI. One thing that they need to consider is the ways in which their firm is or is not satisfying customers. They will want to try to make sure to correct the problems that are reported to them by the marketing people.
At the same time, the marketing people need to learn from the people who are doing CQI. The marketing people need to know what improvements are being made to the product. When they find out how the product is being improved, they can market that to the customers. They can make the customers aware of the ways in which the product is being improved. This will hopefully attract more customers.
Thus, the process of CQI and the process of marketing have a two-way relationship in which each helps the other.