Role of Marketing


definition of marketing, role of marketing

Teaching Notes

  • Overview: In this exercise, students outline their own understanding of the role marketing – using their own words, rather than a formal definition – to assist with their understanding. This is an exercise that should be run early in a marketing course and is designed for students to start thinking about the function of marketing, as well as encouraging critical and independent thought, rather than relying completely on formal definitions.
  • Teaching Level: This is an introductory exercise suitable for use in the first few weeks of a marketing course. It assumes no theoretical marketing knowledge, but instead gives a good insight into the student’s existing perceptions and understanding of marketing at the outset of their course.
  • Suggested Structure: This is a flexible exercise that can be structured as a quick review exercise for a large class, and it can even work as an individual student exercise.
  • Approximate Timing: The initial task can be completed in around 15 minutes in groups, plus add around a further 15-21 minutes for overall class discussion time.

Review the activity below or download the PDF student worksheet

Student Worksheet: What is the Role of Marketing

Student Discussion Activity

What is the Role of Marketing?

One of the challenges you have as a student at the start of any marketing course is to develop a clear understanding of the role of marketing.

As you have probably gathered, the word “marketing” is obviously related to the word “market”. And you should note that the word marketing is a verb, which means that marketing is an active process of “going to market” (that is, helping a firm – or organization – go to market).

But what does “going to market” mean? Think about a local street market where there are buyers and sellers. The sellers work together to attract large numbers of buyers, but they are also in competition with each other to win sales from the buyers. The buyers are looking to buy products that they are interested in, at a good-value price.

Ideally, the process of marketing should be a win-win outcome, where both the buyer and seller benefit from the transaction.

Your Student Task

Your task in this exercise is to review the following list of marketing objectives. To what extent, do you think, that these goals reflect the role of marketing for a firm.

To start with, score each one on this scale: definitely a role of marketing, probably a marketing role, probably not a marketing role or definitely not a role of marketing.

Score these possible Marketing Objectives

Definitely a marketing role Probably a marketing role Probably not a marketing role

Definitely not a marketing role

To add value for consumers


To meet customer needs


To win new customers


To retain customers


To outperform competition


To work with competition to grow the overall market


To maximize profits for a firm


To build a strong brand


To design great products


To be a leading product innovator


To change the world


To benefit society overall



Student Task

Given your view of whether these objectives are part of the role of marketing in the above table, how would you then describe the role of marketing in your own words.

Related Activities

A good related activity is also available – Your Perceptions of Marketing