What is Marketing?

Few outside its inner sanctums understand what big business marketing really and truly is.

In my own “field” of academic sociology, nobody even asks, despite corporate marketing’s overwhelming importance in shaping behaviors and lives.

When sociologists try to touch the topic, they invariably do so by babbling in one direction or another about “consumption,” by which they really mean (or would mean, if they were aware of their own bumbling obtuseness) people’s “free time activities” and/or “product-related activities.”

Trying to comprehend and explain the social logic and effects of big business marketing in that manner is like trying to do surgery wearing catcher’s mitts. The resulting stuff is hopelessly confused and massively violent to reality.

So what is it that gets missed? As usual, the proper answer comes from the professional communications of marketers themselves. Here’s what marketing really is, straight from the horse’s mouth:

[M]arketing is both an art and a science, and like any other investment activity, it must be grounded in research, planned carefully, and measured and evaluated based on return on investment.

In other words, it’s this guy’s stuff, applied to off-the-job behavior:

To miss that fundamental fact is to miss the whole train of social analysis and criticism.