What has changed in Kotler’s marketing from 3.0 to 4.0?


Kotler’s marketing theory has changed with the times, starting with product-centered marketing (1.0), followed by customer-centered (2.0), and then human-centered (3.0). Today it has evolved into 4.0, a marketing approach that integrates online and offline interactions between companies and customers. In this session, we will consider how the environment surrounding us has changed from Marketing 3.0 to 4.0, and what theoretical changes have resulted from these changes.

The Era of Connectivity, Marketing 3.0 to 4.0

Marketing 3.0 is a theory that treats the customer as a holistic being with a mind, heart, and spirit. The idea of involving and collaborating with people in marketing activities, as well as the references to social responsibility and sustainability, have provided people with valuable insights.

However, the issue of how to respond to the social media age has not been adequately discussed. The rapid development of the digital economy, especially in the past few years, has been dizzying and has drastically changed people’s behavioral patterns.

That is where Marketing 4.0 comes in. It can be said to represent a new marketing concept for a new era, in line with the new customers of the digital age.

Marketing 4.0 is an approach to winning customer recommendations

The most important point of Marketing 4.0 is that it indicates that digital and traditional marketing should coexist with the ultimate goal of winning customer recommendations.

It is a marketing approach that strengthens customer engagement, arguing that company-customer interactions should be viewed as an integrated series of events, rather than as separate digital (online) and physical (offline) events.

A world greatly changed by horizontal connections

In the digital age, connectivity and transparency have increased dramatically. People are becoming globally connected and forming communities as they are able to access a wide variety of information without geographic or time constraints.

The proliferation of mobile devices is also accelerating this trend. Many customers use smartphones and other devices to compare prices and check word-of-mouth reviews while looking at products in stores.

What have customers become influenced by?

In the past, customers were easily influenced by advertising and other messages and tended to seek the opinions of authorities and experts. Today, however, one-sided messages from companies are less reliable, and customers are more likely to trust information obtained from lateral connections, such as family, friends, and social media communities.

Communities are more frequently and actively talking about companies and brands. With easier access to collective knowledge, customer decisions have become more social in nature (essentially social decisions).

Engage customers with integrity and unexpected excitement

In this day and age when customers have become active entities, companies cannot manage the communities they form. Even if a company can patch up and transmit information in a way that suits its own needs, it is likely to lose credibility.

A company must aim to be like a peer or friend to its customers. Only by honestly presenting the intrinsic value of the company and sometimes disclosing the negative aspects of the company can it become a brand that is trusted, purchased, and recommended.

Customer Journey in the Digital Age 5A

To achieve this, it is crucial to understand your customers according to the 5As ※1, the customer journey in the digital age. Then, it is necessary to carefully select the touchpoints ※2 that are important to your company to approach customers.

The 5A customer journey ultimately aims to turn customers into advocators of your company, but to do this, it is not about sending out a large volume of messages. It is about creating unexpected excitement for just a moment. Especially in the digital age, digital interaction alone is not enough. On the contrary, in an increasingly online world, companies must be more aware that offline interaction is a powerful differentiator.

※1 5A: A framework that shows how customer behavior progresses from Aware, Appeal, Ask, Act, and Advocate.
※2 Touchpoints: Points of contact between a company and its customers

The Goal of Marketing 4.0

Ultimately, the main goal of Marketing 4.0 is to create a situation where customers can be sure that their recommendations will be present in the horizontal connections (conversations) they trust the most. It requires human contact, which at first glance seems to be the opposite of digital contact.

Diversifying customer behavior requires brands to be flexible. But more than ever, it is important to have an authenticity of character and presence that does not waver, regardless of changes in marketing style or content. Recommendations that change customer behavior cannot occur without such intrinsic appeal.

The 5A is a highly complete model. Many of you must feel its validity as a model because it is well explained and incorporates consumer behavior patterns. However, the 5As are not perfect, and when using them, we must keep in mind that the customer journey is not all about digital media. My siblings own smartphones, but they do not use them well, actively use social networking services, or shop online. On the other hand, there are people in their 70s and 80s who are very tech-savvy. We must always keep in mind the diversity of consumers.

I also feel that “Marketing 4.0” is lacking in some areas. The content is too biased toward communication-related issues, and there is nothing beyond “Marketing 4.0” on how to communicate with consumers in the age of social networking and how to capture their customer journey. That is why it is very unfortunate that very little mention is made of creating customer value, even though the marketing activity is to create customer value and then communicate and persuade consumers of that value.

Today, the world is full of examples such as Uber and Airbnb that are transforming existing businesses and creating new customer value through the use of digital technology. Therefore, after “Marketing 4.0,” I want to see a typology of business transformation and value creation through digital technology. If this is demonstrated, it will be of great help to those who are challenging the revitalization of declining industr

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