Dr. S. Shyam Prasad
Students of management are often told that marketing is both a science as well as an art. However, in view of ever evolving practices and methods in marketing it makes an interesting topic to investigate once more. Without going into traditional and class room justification of the statement, I have discussed it from point of view of a “modern marketer”. Nevertheless, some basic views of marketing which couldn’t be avoided have found a place in the article.
Science and Art
In more than two decades of selling and a decade of teaching marketing, I have often come across the question as to what is marketing. Is it a science or an Art? Before proceeding further, let us clarify as to what a science is and what an art is. The definition of each of this itself is debatable. Without entering into any controversy the simplest definitions are discussed below.
The word science comes from the Latin “scientia,” meaning knowledge. According to Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, the definition of science is “knowledge attained through study or practice,” or “knowledge covering general truths of the operation of general laws, esp. as obtained and tested through scientific method [and] concerned with the physical world.” The Science Council’s definition of science is “Science is the pursuit and application of knowledge and understanding of the natural and social world following a systematic methodology based on evidence.”
The definition of art is controversial in contemporary philosophy. Whether art can be defined has also been a matter of controversy. The philosophical usefulness of a definition of art has also been debated.
(Adajian, 2012). There are several ways one could go about defining art. It is a diverse range of human activities and the products of those activities. The nature of art, and related concepts such as creativity and interpretation, are explored in a branch of philosophy known as aesthetics (Kennic & Kennick, 1979). For our purpose the following explanation (Farlex, 2014) of art will suffice.
a. Skill that is attained by study, practice or observation; eg. the art of the baker; the blacksmith’s art
b. Skill arising from the exercise of intuitive faculties: eg. “Self-criticism is an art not many are qualified to practice” (Joyce Carol Oates)
Marketing as a Science
In fact, marketing consists of understanding your organisation, the environment and the different segments in the market and combining these understandings to design a product, positioning it in the most profitable segment and doing all those things necessary to establish that positioning to result in an exchange which is mutually beneficial to both the organisation and the customer. Philip Kotler says, “Marketing is the science and art of exploring, creating, and delivering value to satisfy the needs of a target market at a profit”
(Kotler, 2001-2012). For marketing to be successful it needs to subtly blend both science and art. But what are the science and art parts of marketing? Much has been written on this subject. Yet in view of fast developing technology, different views are emerging to keep the topic live.
In the last few years, there have been profound changes in the way how the marketers do their jobs. With the advent of newer technology, marketing, earlier characterized by predomination of advertising, is today driven by digital channels, social media and measured more precisely by modern technologies. The “modern marketer” is overwhelmed with data. At least apparently, the science side of marketing is evolving.