Critical thinking, a concept not so easily explained with one simple definition, generally can be interpreted as “the process of applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action1.” Thinking critically is, for sure, one of the few things every college student has in common. It can be applied in every major and career field; marketing is no exception. Without critical thinking, the basics of marketing, promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising, could not be accomplished2.
Marketing is defined as the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for costumers, clients, and society at large3. In my Basic Marketing class, a student’s ability to properly use and understand the concepts of critical thinking in the marketing field are put to the test; usually with practical examples and real-world cases. Critical thinking is a crucial skill. If we cannot successfully learn to predict the wants and needs of consumers, we fail the basics of marketing and we fail the consumers. Critical thinking pushes students to learn how ways to strategically predict future marketing trends and ways to advertise and promote different products. One of the first things taught in the Basic Marketing class at USF, is how to create a marketing plan. Planning involves the process of anticipating future events and determining strategies to achieve organizational objectives in the future3. Conducting research is important for the creation of a market plan. To successfully interpret research data that is collected, whether it be customer satisfaction, different demographic data, or how to remarket a product, students must be able to use critical thinking to analyze the information and make a practical decision. There are four major things that must be considered when critically thinking through a marketing plan: product strategies (what products are to be marketed), place or distribution (where customers will purchase these products), promotion strategies (how products get advertised and promoted), and pricing (how to determine the cost of the product sold)3. Known as the Four P’s, these strategies require someone who can properly interpret and implement them.
In Basic Marketing, students are taught, using real-world examples, how to use critical thinking in today’s ever-growing business markets. Professors use familiar companies and products to explain how being able to think critically produces successful outcomes in the field. In example: packaging of a product, using marketing techniques that create an overall appeal, regardless of the target market's ethnicity, gender or other characteristics, to certain population groups can prove to be beneficial for the company and may result in the product being accessible to a broad range of customers4. Being able to analyze these types of data and make a decision on a type of packaging can be linked to critical thinking. Without critical thinking, making a decision on package style or advertisement strategy could lead to a product’s failure—which ultimately has a negative impact on the company. Another, more specific, example would be, a car advertisement that appeals mainly to female consumers would need to avoid stereotypical images to enable the vehicle to appeal to a broader base of consumers4. Marketing professionals must use their critical thinking skills to examine branding concepts from a perspective that eliminates gender in advertising the car's features4.
Critical thinking forces us to take the steps to strategize and conduct research before they market a product. As students, we are taught that products and their relative advertisements must reach out to a specific demographic, or target market, whether it be college students from a lower-lever income class, or a corporate-working mother with a family of four. Proper research, analysis, and development must be obtained in order to successfully sell a product. Thinking through the proper steps will produce more successful marketing campaigns in the long run. The typical process for a marketing campaign must think and answer these question: is there a growing need for a new or existing product? Who buys/would buy the product? How much will this product cost, including the expense of packaging and advertising? How necessary is this product? These are just a few of the questions we as marketing students must learn to answer—and the only way to answer is by thinking critically.
Critical thinking is found in every college classroom and is widely used in daily life. It is extremely important for students to explore and develop their own styles and interpretations of critical thinking. Critical thinking opens the mind to different solutions and means of achieving an end. In marketing, critical thinking is of absolute importance. Without proper skills to think critically, students will lack the necessary requirements to successful market products and services in the fast-paced business industry.
1. "Defining Critical Thinking." Defining Critical Thinking. Foundation for Critical Thinking, 2013. Web. 23 Sept. 2015.
2. "Marketing." BusinessDictionary.com. WebFinance, Inc., 2015. Web. 23 Sept. 2015.
3. Lamb, Charles W., Joseph F. Hair, and Carl McDaniel. MKTG: Principles of Marketing. 9th ed. N.p.: Cengage Learning, 2015. Print.
4. Mayhew, Ruthanne. "Examples of Using Critical Thinking to Make Decisions in the Workplace." Small Business. Hearst Newspapers, LLC, 2015. Web. 24 Sept. 2015.