Mark Ritson: Understanding customers is marketers’ most misunderstood mission

Forty. Bloody hell! It’s an interesting milestone. Unlike other anniversaries such as your 18th or 21st that are largely ceremonial, you feel your 40th marching up the hill about six months before it arrives. It’s a proper thing. A line in the sand.

For Marketing Week it is a very important achievement. The world of marketing has changed so much in the past four decades that any brand that was created in 1978 to serve marketers and is still standing deserves a pat on the back, and then probably a sit down and a mug of cocoa.

If you look at the ancient editions of Marketing Week you get a glimpse into the glorious (and not-so-glorious) history of British marketing. The first impression of our older editions is that the world of marketing has changed massively.

Where once the battle was TV versus print, today it is digital against traditional. Credit cards were once the hot new technology for monitoring customers; now we have little spy robots perched on our mantelpieces that we talk to while they listen to us. We used to worry about the relationships between clients and agencies; now the digital duopoly is bigger than any agency, and every client.

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