Marketing is a multi-million dollar industry and, as the world becomes ever more mediated, it shows no signs of slowing down. At the most basic level, marketing is communication between a business and the consumer. However, its goal is more complex and this communication is framed in such a way that it persuades an individual to buy the products and services offered by the business. But can you market anything? Even things that people don’t want? The short answer is yes!
Cigarettes are the famous example of a highly successful marketing campaign. At the turn of the twentieth century, very few women were smokers. An advertising campaign, which took the form of women smoking at a parade in America, rocketed the sales; even though cigarettes are unnecessary and, in theory, most people wouldn’t want to buy them. That is, of course, until they become glamorised through clever marketing.
It is not just products themselves that can be marketed, but whole lifestyles and behaviours. Health, political ideas, ideologies and life practices can, and have, all been the subject of marketing campaigns in the past. Millions are spent by governments and organisations, not to promote a product, but to promote an idea, party or person.
Of course, things are never that black and white. While it is possible, in theory, to market anything, it doesn’t always pay off. Many marketing campaigns fail, even if they are very good. You have to fill a gap in the market. If something is already filling that gap, or people don’t believe that they need that product, then the task is much harder. The reason cigarette campaigns work so well is because they are advertised as stress-busting and sexy; who wouldn’t want to feel less stressed and more beautiful? So, find your niche and you really can market anything.