Is Mass Marketing Dead?
Topic Market Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning
Key Words Undifferentiated marketing, differentiated marketing, marketing mix, positioning
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News Story 

Marketers rely on various strategies to match their products to the needs of specific target markets. A mass marketing strategy, sometimes called undifferentiated marketing, is an approach in which a firm produces only one product or product line and promotes it to the largest pool of consumers using a single marketing mix. Retailers like McDonald's have made a fortune over the years using this strategy. However, the strategy has been rendered less effective in recent years due to market forces, and it has subsequently fallen out of favor.

While many companies have long abandoned mass marketing in favor of more differentiated marketing approaches, marketers attending the AdWatch Outlook 2004 Conference must have been surprised to hear McDonald's Marketing Chief Larry Light declare mass marketing dead during his keynote address. "This is the end of brand positioning as we know it,'' Mr. Light said. "If you believe small is beautiful, then adopt the view of one brand, one product, one position.'' Light's statement appears to signal that that McDonald's--with its $1.2 billion global marketing budget--has thrown out its past rule book and is starting over.

Mr. Light continued to rail against certain "positionistas'' who claim that brands must have only one single identity that appeals to an increasingly fragmented audience of consumers. "Identifying one brand positioning, communicating it in a repetitive manner, is old-fashioned, out-of-date, out-of-touch brand communication,'' he said. "A brand is multidimensional. No one communication, no one message can tell a whole brand story.'' According to Light, marketers that continue to follow a simplistic mass marketing approach are committing "brand suicide."

(September, 2004)


According to the article, what does McDonald's call its new approach to marketing, and what does that approach entail?

2. Cite at least three specific examples from the article that illustrate new changes to the McDonald's marketing approach.
Source Mercedes M. Cardona, "Mass marketing meets its maker; McD's chief espouses `brand journalism' approach," Advertising Age, June 21, 2004 v75 i25 p1.
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