Evolution of Marketing: From the 1800s to today

Marketing Written In White Chalk


For people today, it is difficult to imagine a time without marketing.

We are constantly surrounded by advertisements, whether in physical or digital form. We have gotten so used to it that we almost stopped noticing them. But this wasn’t always the case.

Before the Industrial Revolution, there was no need for marketing. Every household would produce what they needed to live and trade with others.

In the 1800s low-cost mass production began, with limited outbound marketing since most people could only buy what was available.

Today, no good business can neglect marketing – especially internet marketing.

Marketing was, obviously, created by people. It is constantly influenced by global historical, economic, and other events. Therefore, it grows and evolves alongside all other man-made things.

Marketing evolution is usually divided into 5 stages that correspond to 5 different time periods, each with its own unique characteristics. From the Industrial Revolution to today, here are the 5 stages of marketing evolution:

Production orientation stage

After the end of the trade era, in the mid-1800s, companies started using machines to mass-produce goods. By using machines instead of human labor, production costs were reduced and, in turn, produced goods were cheaper.

The philosophy back then was that people simply want (and buy) only what is available. This was true because the supply generally exceeded the demand in that period. Companies mostly focused on improving production and distribution, keeping the cost of production down, all while producing only a few basic products.

Product orientation stage

In this phase, producers concentrated more on the product than on the production, and more on quality than quantity. This was because the market was beginning to become saturated with products, and consequently, competition increased.

Still, producers believed that if a product was good, it would “sell itself” and wouldn’t need any marketing strategy. Others, on the other hand, focused on undercutting competing prices and reducing quality.

During this period, radio became a popular marketing channel, alongside printed media.

Sales orientation stage

With the increase in competition and in the number of options for customers, producers started to view advertising as important.

They understood that having a great product is useless unless they promote it as well. They also assumed customers had to be stimulated into buying.

Additionally, firms were selling what they made, instead of producing what the market wanted. 

Marketing orientation stage

In this stage, companies switched to producing what the cus

tomers want. Producers started analyzing the market in order to determine its needs and how to satisfy them best.

It was of the utmost importance to deliver satisfaction better than the competition. In this sense, the customer’s wants are now directing the company, not the management’s.

This stage can be summed up in the phrase “the customer is king”, and is still used today.

Relationship stage

In this latest stage, companies try to build lasting relationships with their customers. This way, customers remain loyal to the brand and keep coming back to the product.

With an increasing number of people using the internet, email marketing and social media marketing began gaining more and more importance.

The evolution of mobile marketing caused marketers to make up new strategies that would be adapted to this channel. Today, up to 70% of web traffic happens on mobile.


Learning about the various stages of marketing can help us understand how we got where we are today. It shows that some approaches can work for a while, but that it’s important to keep up with the market and adapt to changes. Marketing will surely continue to evolve: marketing executives predict AI will be the next step in the evolution.

Whatever the future may hold, the best thing you can do for your business is to remain relevant by closely following marketing trends.

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