The majority of marketing scholars addresses strategic marketing as a continuous, long-term process, one that is concerned with clarifying the present state of the institution, a series of coordinated steps along a clearly defined route, while others speak to strategic planning as the organization’s defining of a mission and strategies to achieve goals and objectives in the most effective manner. This paper aims to examine and analyze customer orientation perspective of strategic marketing, with a specific focus on customer orientation, consumer behavior and relationship marketing.
In a customer-oriented organization, the process of identifying and responding to the interests and needs of the customer is crucial, and must be viewed as the key element of the company’s strategic business plan. In a customer-oriented organization, quality is defined by the one who uses and ultimately benefits from the specific product or service, that being the customer or client. Those at the helm of successful businesses realize that the focus of the organization must be aligned with creating customer satisfaction above all else (Hinton & Schaeffer, 1994). Everyone’s job is defined by the customer. It is the customer, after all, who ultimately, defines how well the product or service is to be created, or delivered (Webster, 1994). As Jack Welch, the highly acclaimed CEO of General Electric, often reminded his employees, “Companies can’t give job security. Only customers can!” (Kotler, 1999, p. 20).
The managers of responsive organizations focus on customer satisfaction, and make every effort to satisfy the needs and wants of the customers (Kotler & Armstrong, 1999). Forler Massnick, author of The Customer is CEO (1997), stakes a claim for TQM (Total Quality Management) by emphasizing that value is defined and determined by the customer. This practice of continuous product improvement, viewed through