Technology played a big role in setting the pace for these changes. As we approach the era of globalisation and liberalisation, and the channels of communication become diverse and more consumer friendly, reaching out to the customer is not considered the task of marketing department in isolation. Now the customer can be reached through the online route, different types of web-services etc. besides the traditional methods like media advertising, sponsorships, word of mouth publicity etc. Now an increasing emphasis is being laid on creating goodwill amongst the existing as well as prospective customers. Such efforts require that an integrated approach is adopted towards the ultimate objective.
Total integration strategy is a broader term which involves an integrated approach in dealing with human resources, manufacturing, marketing, R&D and other supporting wings of the business entity. Environmental concerns and philanthropic efforts have also become integral parts of the creating goodwill and adding more market space. In addition to adding more features, value addition becomes the key component of product differentiation. Market led forces necessitate that the company should come out with a product which appeals to the customer's requirements. Piercy (2002) points out that total integration calls for change in thinking of the company from the traditional functions like marketing, sales, production etc. to the need for seeking active cooperation and coordination from all the stakeholders in the business. Such an approach in fact divides the marketing function also in four different segments namely;
Integrated or Full service Marketing Departments: Such marketing departments are the one's which have become a norm now a days. Value addition and customer care happen to be the topmost priority in these types of marketing wings. Lack of adequate time, a fast life, range of available other brands in the market and evolving needs of the customer necessitate such an approach on the part of the manufacturer and the service provider. The emphasis in such an approach is not on operational effectiveness, but on value addition and other effective strategies instead. Porter (1996) points out that, for a company to outperform its rivals it has to establish a difference and subsequently to preserve it. This can be done in a effective manner by delivering a greater value to the customer, creating comparable value at lower cost or to do both. The full service marketing departments are not only meant for soliciting sales orders, but they also have the added responsibility of reaching out to the customer, by integrating marketing campaigns or otherwise. In view of added responsibilities to such department Piercy (2002) states that such departments can wield 'clout' in the company affairs. In fact while product differentiation is key to an integrated approach, the evolving nature of core competencies has also become the hallmark of globalisation and competitive era. Nicholas (1996) also points out towards the changing nature of core competencies when he points out that Core competences can indeed deliver sustainable competitive advantage, but with competitor making inroads into the turf and affecting the needs of the customer, a phase invariably arrives when companies are supposed to unlearn these competencies and a company which can move easily through such a transition process find the sustainable business goal rather easily.