Difference Between Selling Concept and Marketing Concept

Selling Concept vs Marketing Concept

The difference between selling concept and marketing concept is a very interesting subject that has elements of history and product attributes. Marketing has been an evolving and ever changing aspect of organizational environment. This evolution has resulted in different concepts in different time periods. The popular concepts were product concept, selling concept, marketing concept and societal marketing concept. The product concept was the earliest which can be traced to late 19th century and the last of the concepts to emerge was the societal marketing concept.

What is Selling Concept?

After the industrial revolution, innovation became common, and engineering skills grew immensely. This led to making of machines that were able to produce large quantities that were unseen at that period. So, mass production became a habit of industries. Because of this, supply outpaced demand in many industries. Businesses had to find ways to dispose the excess quantities that were not sold by their own. Firms decided to promote their products extensively and persuade customers for purchase. Selling concept emerged as a result of this.

Selling concept can be classified as ‘persuading and convincing customers to purchase goods of the firm by extensive promotional modes.’ The promotion tools used were advertising and personal selling. Selling concept believes that customers will not buy enough unless they are pushed to buy. Still, for certain products, selling concept is being used. Examples are life insurance, retirement plans, and firefighting equipment.

The selling concept has its drawbacks. This concept only advocates seller’s side. The customer’s side has been neglected. Here, the goal is to sell what they produce than what customer really wants. So, whether customer wants the product is questionable. With continuous persuading, customer might purchase the product, but it will be one-time business for the company as it’s a burden for the customer. Customer has more options and is aware of such options nowadays due to over capacity and constant advertising. Therefore, this approach is not suitable for most products at the current time.

Difference Between Selling Concept and Marketing Concept

Selling concept focuses on the seller’s side

What is Marketing Concept?

The drawbacks of the selling concept lead to new thinking in the business world. With more options and higher disposable income customer had the luxury to choose what they wanted. Also, their demand power increased. Therefore, a question arose in the business community that is – what do customers want. These changes of mindset led to the rise of the marketing concept. Marketing concept can be classified as the collective activity of satisfying customer wants and needs while meeting the organization objectives. Simply, it’s the process of satisfying the customers while making a profit . Marketing concept treats the customer as the king.

Though it seems simple, practicing this concept is highly complex. This complex process starts from product preconception till the after sales service. Also, the commitment of the whole organization is a mandatory requirement for complete success. Customer desires should be incorporated into all aspects. In order to understand customer needs and wants, continuous marketing research is vital. A smaller organization can collect such data by simply talking with their customers. But, for large organizations, methods such as marketing surveys and focus group studies would be useful. Through marketing research, the firm will be able to perform segmentation based on size and needs of customers.

The main benefits of marketing concept for an organization are customer loyalty and customer retention. An increase in customer retention by 5% can result in an increase of 40 – 50% in profit as per a study by Reichheld and Sasser. Effective implementation of marketing concept can be of high benefit if practiced well. So, marketing concept provides a firm with the ability to satisfy customers while making profits.

Selling Concept vs Marketing Concept

Marketing concept focuses on both customer and seller

What is the difference between Selling Concept and Marketing Concept?

The evolution of marketing has lead to various theories and concepts for business success. Out of which, selling concept and marketing concept are widely evaluated. We can find some significant differences between them.

• Focus:

• The selling concept focuses on mass production, and persuading customer to purchase, enabling the firm to make profits.

• The marketing concept’s objective is to have happy customers while making reasonable profits.

• Profits:

• In the selling concept, profits arise from sales volumes. More sales mean more the profit.

• With marketing concept, the profit is attained through customer retention and loyalty. Customer retention is achieved via customer satisfaction.

• Competition:

• Selling concept will not provide a competitive edge and will be less favorable in a competitive environment.

• Marketing concept develops mutual relationship between seller and customer. Therefore, it is more favorable in a competitive environment.

• Definition of Business:

• With selling concept, businesses are defined by the goods and service they sell.

• In marketing concept, businesses are defined by the benefit customers derive from the activity of the organization.

The difference between selling concept and marketing concept has been detailed above. The era of selling concept has ended and more businesses concentrate on the marketing concept. New thinking in future can lead to further advancement of business theories for success.



  1. Kotler, T and Keller K. (2012). Marketing Management. 14e Global ed., Pearson Education.
  2. Reichheld, F. E. and Sasser Jr, W. E. (1990). Zero Defections: Quality Comes to Services.Harvard Business Review. September-October, pg. 105 – 111.


Images Courtesy:

  1. A Liberty Mutual booth by  Whoisjohngalt  (CC BY-SA 3.0)
  2. Steve Job and iPad by matt buchanan (CC BY 2.0)