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Marketing schools teach that there are five main eras of marketing. The most recent one is said to have begun in the early 1990s; this is called the Relationship Era. The era preceding that spanned the 1940s to the 1990s; this is called the Marketing Era. To complicate things, in 2009 Forrester Research released a report titled "The Future of the Social Web" in which it is asserted that social networking is the next phase of the Relationship Era in marketing. Each era subsumes the other preceding eras, that is, it takes on the qualities and characteristics of the era or eras leading up to it.
To the question "What Marketing Era are we in now?" there may be two answers. The textbook answer will be, "We are in the Relationship Era." The Relationship Era is the era of the brand in which branding a product and a company is all-important for product recognition, brand recognition (for multiple products) and customer loyalty. This era contains characteristic of the Marketing Era (which some divide into two subcategories: the marketing department and the marketing company subsets of the Marketing Era) in which marketing activities were consolidated under one department and then were specialized in by separate marketing companies.
Some who are on the cutting edge of marketing and who have internalized the Forrester report might say that we are currently in the social network cum mobile application subset of the expanding Relationship Era. In other words, just as the Marketing Era expanded into two subsets of marketing specialization, so has/is/will the Relationship Era expand into two subsets of individualization of the marketing relationship.
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