History of Marketing

Marketing has been around, though not known by that term, since commerce began.

The logos of Roman merchants selling goods in the markets of Pompeii can still be seen today. To briefly explain the history of marketing, I will use simple analogy: bread.

In the early days of the industrial revolution, most people lived in rural villages and would have bought bread on a daily basis. Living in small communities, everybody knew where the baker was. The baker therefore, did not have to advertise. In economic terms, they had perfect knowledge. In marketing terms, there was high customer intimacy.

As economies grew and industrialisation took place, people travelled between villages and goods travelled further. The result was that consumers no longer had perfect knowledge of the market and consequently, producers had to communicate within these larger market places. In addition, as villages grew, there was a requirement for multiple suppliers as one baker could no longer supply all needs. To compete, the baker now has to advertise, put signs in front of his/her shop and set window displays – basically to say “here I am”.


As those who would have once bought bread on a daily basis, with changing shift patterns, this was no longer feasible for some. Bread therefore, had to be differentiated. For those who are going to buy bread on a weekly basis, the bread must have either preservatives or wrapping to keep it fresher for longer. Thus, some breads were designed for consumption on a daily basis and others for buying on a weekly basis.


The baker segments the market into groups of customers with similar desires, such as those who want daily or weekly bread. The baker can then price the products and distribute them differently. If it is weekly bread, the baker can distribute it to villages further away as it stays fresher for longer.


The baker can assess the size of the different market places and produce enough of the right product type to satisfy each market needs. From this, the baker can identify the more profitable markets and which to concentrate on.


As the baker progresses, he/she looks to take advantage of new rail and canal links and sell in other villages. The bread however, does not sell as well in other villages as it does in the home town, because the residents of the other villages do not know the bakery. To educate the market that the bread is just as good as other local bakeries, the baker brands his/her products, and how best to do this, on the bread itself!

It is around this time (the mid18th Century onwards) that brands come into being as a means of communicating the quality of a product when it is sold far from its point of manufacture. The oldest product brand still in existence is Pears soap, dating from about 1789.

In the 21st Century, with the development in computer technology, internet, social media and strained advertising budgets, Digital and Direct Marketing was created. During the recession, Relationship Marketing came to the fore with businesses changing their focus towards retaining customers, oppose to focusing on gaining new customers. In addition, Social Marketing has been established to improve social-wellbeing by changing attitudes and behaviour.

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