Take a position: Mass marketing is dead versus mass marketing is still a viable way to build a profitable brand. Discussion: With marketers increasingly adopting more and more refined market segmentation schemes fueled by the Internet and other customization efforts, some critics claim that mass marketing is dead. Others counter that there will always be room for large brands that employ marketing programs targeting the mass market.

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A position on the question of the continued viability of mass marketing in an age in which marketing more strategically to select potential customers is possible could easily conclude that the older method remains very much worthwhile.

There is no question that social networking sites like Facebook and internet search...

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A position on the question of the continued viability of mass marketing in an age in which marketing more strategically to select potential customers is possible could easily conclude that the older method remains very much worthwhile.

There is no question that social networking sites like Facebook and internet search tools like Google have made targeted marketing far more possible and popular than every before. The use of vast banks of computers, such as those operated by Facebook, have enabled marketers to identify specific individuals out of millions for increased exposure to their products and services. This is revolutionary. Does it replace mass marketing that is akin to sweeping through a mass with a metaphorical net hoping to ensnare the one or two people most likely to want to purchase one’s product? This educator does not think so.

Billboards, newspaper, radio and television advertising continue to generate a great deal of revenue for the owners of those outlets, precisely because mass marketing remains a viable means of reaching the largest possible number of potential customers. The purpose of much mass marketing is to implant in the mind of the viewer an association with the product in question. Just as subliminal messaging sought to trigger a positive reaction to a specific product on the part of consumers unaware that that they had been exposed to a message advocating that product, mass marketing continues to be used to make product names synonymous with normal human inclinations, such as the connection in many minds behind thirst and Coke or Pepsi, irrespective of the actual physiological relationships between certain carbonated, heavily-sweetened drinks and the desire on the part of an individual to address the need to consume a beverage.

It has always been difficult to quantify the success rates of marketing campaigns over many decades. Enough is known, however, to conclude that mass marketing remains an integral part of corporate outreach because it still works. Celebrities are used to market goods like athletic shoes, because prospective buyers admire those celebrities, want to be associated with them, and believe that those shoes will result in better outcomes on the field or court of play. Beautiful models are used to advertise makeup and clothes because many people hope to look like those models as much as possible.

Companies will continue to paint their corporate logos on city buses and delivery trucks because they believe that the constant exposure to those logos will influence consumer choices. That is mass marketing. Irrespective of how successful targeted marketing driven by complicated algorithms is in making advertising more cost effective, one suspects that the exposure to mass audiences provided by mass targeting will remain indefinitely.

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Mass marketing is a marketing strategy that purposes to ignore demographic differences within the market so as to reach the largest number of people. As such, mass marketing does not target a particular segment of the population, rather the whole of the population, or as much of it as can be reached. This said, brands majorly market their products through either targeted or mass marketing.

It could be said that mass marketing is still a viable way of branding as it is particularly useful in addressing markets of products with large “light buyer” profiles. Kat Gebert in an article for Percolate Industries classifies buyers into four main groups: Non-buyers, light, moderate, and heavy buyers, according to their buying capabilities. The light buyers, therefore, buy fewer products of a given type than the moderate buyers. Kat further suggests that in most cases, about 80% of the buyers of a given product are light buyers. Light buyers cut across all demographics, and are better reached via mass marketing. Also, improved technology has sometimes helped to increase the popularity of mass marketing. Social media, for instance, can be looked at as an indirect medium of mass marketing as it allows both mass and niche marketers to showcase their products to the undifferentiated public.

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Based on my experience as a marketer I concur that there will always be room for mass marketing. The reason being that mass marketing serves a specific objective in a promotion. Mass marketing is tailored towards creating awareness for products without the focus on market segments. Such products are forced to employ mass marketing strategy because they want to appeal to all segments of the market. Good examples of businesses engaging in mass marketing include Coca-Cola and Amazon.  

The soft drinks giant produces and sells beverages targeted at the entire market. The giant online retailer sells a variety of goods to the entire market. On the brand level, the two businesses have no choice but to market without a focus on market segmentation. Additionally, the businesses want to be at the top of the consumer’s mind when they decide to make a purchase. Thus, the idea of mass marketing is hinged on the need to stay present in the customer’s mind and extend the reach of the brand to new customers.

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This is a great question. I think a better approach is to say that mass marketing is becoming less important, but certainly not dead. Let me give you a number of reasons for this point of view.

First, the Internet is getting to be a very important place for advertising and marketing. Moreover, many companies are using the Internet to understand the tastes people. Google and Facebook are two examples. So, what these companies are doing is figuring out what people like best and allowing companies to target their marketing in very specific ways. This is why these companies are looking into what people surf for on the Internet. From this perspective, mass marketing looks like a dinosaur.

Second, with all this said, the Internet is not perfect for marketing. There is still a place for mass marketing. This is especially true in more condensed urban areas. In these contexts, it would not be realistic to target one segment of the population. More importantly, we need to realize that the world is becoming more urban. In light of this mass marketing will still be important.

In short, we need both mass marketing and targeted marketing.

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