The Evolution of Marketing

The Evolution of Marketing

The Evolution of Marketing

Consumers are constantly evolving, so how do companies adapt to new and innovative marketing environments? Do they do away with print advertising and completely embrace Facebook? Or is incorporating a little bit of both the best route?

This article initially started off as ‘Marketing Techniques: Old vs New’ however, as more research was conducted, it was found that defining previous and current marketing strategies is not as simple as you think.

So instead, the evolution of marketing will be discussed and how companies today are still using old techniques, but with a modern twist.

Let’s look through four examples, and discuss what was done ‘then’ vs ‘now’:

Word of Mouth

WOM marketing is simple, it’s where a product or place is promoted from peer to peer, usually in a verbal manner.


Consumers would rely on their peers’ verbal recommendations of a product or a service, for example; a family would try out a new restaurant and if they enjoyed the experience, they would share with their friends. This would then create a positive attitude toward the brand as it is an honest review, from someone they trust.


Not much has changed from this form of marketing; the only large difference is how consumers share their experiences. Don’t get me wrong, verbal referrals are still there, but social media has since taken pride of place. Whether a consumer purposefully promotes a brand or not, our newsfeeds are filled with WOM communication. And much like in the past, we respond to this because it is from our friends or minor celebrities, and we trust them and their judgement.

Indirect - A simple trip to the Australian Open is promoting the event and enticing people to go

Direct - Microsoft Guru Scott Hanselman is using his large following to promote brands explicitly


Ephemeral marketing promotes content that has a limited time scale, it offers excitement and a feeling of exclusivity.


The most common form of this advertising was through ‘limited edition’ products. This means that the product will only be around for a certain amount of time since it is seasonal or promoting the release of a film/event/album etc. Consumers will have the urge to purchase because of the fear of missing out, plus they will feel that what they have bought is truly unique.

In the 1989 movie "Back to the Future II" Michael J Fox's character Marty McFly arrives in the 'future' on Oct. 21, 2015. To celebrate this, Nike announced on that exact date, that they would be auctioning off a limited number of self-lacing shoes, which is what Marty wore in the film. 


The concept is the same; short term availability offering a thrilling and limited experience to the customer. However, technology has now come into play and marketing has stepped up a notch. Snapchat was the one of the first to test this strategy, where users could upload ‘stories’ of what they were currently doing, where they were and who they were with. Other platforms then joined in, and Instagram’s story section became very popular. The popularity not only came from the ability to tag a user in a post, add an interactive poll, explicitly state your location and include a popular hashtag but the fact that the content is seen as raw and behind the scenes. This, therefore, makes the viewer trust the brand way more as they are relatable.

Microsoft have created a dedicated Instagram account called MicrosoftLife and it lets you see behind the scenes footage of the company. In this example they are promoting a live broadcast and they introduce us to some of their staff.


Guerilla advertising is all about low cost, unconventional advertising that surprises the market.


Brands would pay to have their product/message displayed via an unusual yet thought provoking way. One of the most popular methods was to create optical illusions through street art, however this then was mimicked by many other companies and the impact had been lost. Organisations then had to start to think even more out the box to get public attention. 

The first example is from Coca Cola:

Static was added to their printed signs located at bus stops, so when the public waited for their bus and stood next to the ad, their clothing would literally get drawn to it. This would cause them to act confused and notice the message being portrayed. 

The second interest technique is from Vodafone:

Vodafone wanted to show customers just how vulnerable they are with their phones, so buying insurance is necessary. They achieved this by slipping flyers into their bags/pockets promoting this service, thus showing just how easy it was to get into their belongings without being noticed.

The final technique is from HBO; promoting their TV show 'The Sopranos':

The gangster themed show perfectly displayed their plot through dark humour, whilst also shocking unsuspecting spectators.


Yet again, not much has changed. The purpose is still to shock and engage but the platform is different; the campaigns are no longer IRL but online. The best example of this is video, whether it be short funny clips of a panda sneezing or longer emotional pieces that shine a light on real life issues.


 A harmless BBC News interview became viral after a toddler strolls into the room, in a very jolly manner, to visit her dad and chaos runs from there. It was seen by over 25 million people and reminded us that we are all human.


We all know what a promotion is… you find a way to showcase your product or service that catches the consumers eye. These will never die down, they will adapt however.


The techniques were mainly incentives to get a customer to purchase. The most common way was print advertising that displayed a ‘great deal’ that would make you buy. Think; buy one get one free, 50% off, closing-down sale etc.


The techniques above are still being used, but companies have realised that they aren’t as effective as before. So, they have combined the social media sharing age with promoting their product/service. The best example of this is Remedy Kombucha, they advertised on social media that they will be giving out free bottles in Melbourne.  This was a resounding success because they gave their consumers notice of where to be and when, and due to their presence on these platforms; provided an easy transition for consumers to share their brand.

So, what have we learned? Marketing isn’t simply out with the old and in with the new – it’s about adapting to the new market and environment. A company shouldn’t throw out one strategy just because it has been around for a while; instead they should look at how they can innovate their current practice. This will help them stand out in the market and become a threat to competition.

Who says an old dog can’t learn new tricks?

Posted by Lucy Richards

Lucy is the Marketing Manager at Digital First, she focuses on social media management, content creation and branding. She previously worked in the investment banking industry for over two years, but decided to pursue her dreams of travel and marketing; and emigrated to Melbourne, Australia. She graduated from the Glasgow Caledonian University in 2014 with a Bachelors degree in Entertainment and Events Management.

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