What is mass marketing? With definition and categories

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 22 June 2022

Published 3 January 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you ever noticed an advertisement on the side of a city bus, you've seen mass marketing at work. Mass marketing aims to reach as many people from as many different backgrounds as possible. The power of these campaigns is immense. In this article, we answer the question, 'What is mass marketing?', define it, talk about its venues, strategies and future and discuss what kind of companies use this form of marketing.

What is mass marketing?

The answer to 'What is mass marketing?' is that a mass marketing campaign is one that reaches out to a large audience. The goal of this type of marketing is to create a large audience for your product or service. It grows the market share, creates brand awareness and takes place both offline and online. Although, offline mass marketing is the traditional form. Here is the difference:

Offline mass marketing

Offline mass marketing requires large sums of money to produce advertisements that people see or hear at some point during their day. These campaigns are characterised by the use of mass media channels that reach large numbers of consumers, such as:

  • television advertising

  • radio announcements

  • newspaper ads

  • direct mail

  • magazine advertisements

  • billboards and signs

  • store and street TVs

The purpose of this type of marketing is generally to create awareness and build brand loyalty rather than make an immediate sale. Mass marketing uses polite reminders. For example, you might consider lunch at a small burger vendor. Your eye catches the logo of a large vendor that does mass marketing. You recall your previous positive experience and the fact that the large burger chain has quick and cheap service. After all, you just need a fast meal so you can get back to the office. You display brand loyalty by going to the large vendor for lunch.

Online mass marketing

There are a few forms of online mass marketing from large and small businesses alike. One is the website. Websites target mass audiences, but only those looking for your content or who already have your address can find you. You can also do mass marketing via video channels, which are very close to TV channels for the marketer.

There is also the weblog. When part of a website, blogs are used to target keywords people enter into search engines and bring those people to the blog and website of a company. Company blogs also target mass audiences—those who are looking for their keywords. They increase the credibility of the company while offering free information on the blog. Online mass marketing is cheaper but presents a challenge of reaching people who aren't actually looking for your product or service. Offline mass marketing reaches those who are looking and those who aren't.

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How mass marketing came about

The birth of mass media in the 20th century had a major impact on advertising. It started with the widespread use of radio, television and printing materials. Previously, advertisers could only reach people who inhabited their physical vicinity, with chalkboard signs posted outside their stores and by word of mouth. This changed with mass marketing. It enabled advertisers to reach people across the city, across the country and even internationally.

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How does mass marketing work?

The opposite of target marketing, mass marketing doesn't focus on demographics. Because the brands that use mass marketing are already available, well-known and convenient, they market their goods and services widely and in ways that work perfectly for them, but aren't really appropriate for mid-sized and small businesses. Below is how mass marketing works:

Mass marketing speaks to human needs

It could be hunger or thirst, love, cleanliness or efficiency. Perhaps it is a desire to save money. Whatever the human need is, mass marketing seeks to address it. For example, a company that makes mobile devices targets the need for efficiency in personal and professional tasks. A large store that carries a wide variety of many products might target your need for convenience.

Mass marketing creates value

Mass marketing helps create value and communicate it to customers. To make their products and services appear more valuable than that of their competition, brands typically pay very popular celebrities to endorse their products. Even if the product is low in cost, consumers can see it as valuable if associated with a celebrity.

Mass marketing uses a single message

Whether it's a human need or value, mass marketing uses one very clear message. If a soft drink wants to be fun, for example, all of their messaging has the same theme. The theme won't add another human need, like energy or efficiency. If the campaign is creating value, it won't add a human need, like love, to that value. So you see celebrities simply smiling and not being enticingly romantic for value ads.

Who uses mass marketing?

Successful companies that have been delivering their goods and services to customers for decades are normally the ones who use mass marketing. It is rare for a small or mid-sized business to use mass marketing tactics because they use too much time or space to explain who and where they are. Mass marketing, meanwhile, flashes by on a bus or screen in seconds with little time or space for explanations. For a gigantic business that everyone knows, it suffices to use one image or video clip and the brand name in an advertisement.

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Benefits of employing a mass marketing strategy

Employing a mass marketing strategy for your business can have many benefits:

  • Exposure: Mass marketing increases the exposure of your brand to the public. Because you are targeting huge audiences, people who are interested in what you offer are more likely to come into contact with it.

  • Customer satisfaction: Employing a mass marketing strategy can also increase customer satisfaction, especially if your ads create value. With this increased exposure comes an increased likelihood of people converting into customers.

  • Brand awareness: Mass marketing helps create awareness of your brand without looking like you're trying too hard to gain attention.

  • Global marketing: Because mass marketing speaks to human needs, it is also effective for global audiences with a few local culture changes added.

Some cons of large-scale marketing

Sometimes mass marketing doesn't work out as planned. Here's why:

  • Massive culture fails: When mass marketers try to target wide audiences, like a culture or country, they sometimes fail.

  • Insufficient data: Large-scale marketing strategies usually fail because the data that these strategies rely on is unreliable or insufficient.

  • Not enough investment: Mass marketing can fail if not enough time goes into refining the strategy with data analytics.

Related: A quick guide to the pros and cons of mass marketing

Marketing strategy of successful campaigns

Mass marketing campaigns are a way to generate a lot of public interest. Large-scale advertising campaigns can promote a new product or service from a large company. A successful marketing campaign starts with the idea of what the company wants to achieve. It is important to know what your audience needs or wants. If you start with these questions, you are more likely to create a successful campaign.

Effective mass marketing campaigns require creativity and planning. Success is well-planned. When companies work on large scale advertising campaigns, they can sometimes produce a powerful brand that reaches far larger audiences than if they were operating individually. Successful mass marketing campaigns have the right mix of creativity and strategy. The most successful mass marketing campaigns usually have the following common elements:

Strategy uses clearly defined goals and objectives

In order for a mass marketing campaign to be successful, it needs to have a clear message and communicate an objective. If producers for a film want to entice moviegoers with suspense, a human need based on adventure, the message needs to be crystal clear. The film name, the message of suspense and when it is in theatres usually suffices.

Strategy that includes audience research and competitive analysis

A message is a packaged set of thoughts, feelings and intentions. To create an effective message, it is important to think using the perspective of a population and its needs. This takes substantial research. As far as competitive analysis, you want to make sure you are not using the same messaging as a smaller company. It's generally perceived as okay for a smaller company to borrow messaging from a larger company, but not the other way around.

Strategy appropriate to media channel

When the Internet began to be more popular with everyday users in the 1990s, mass marketing was there, too. As a result, people didn't pay their advertisements much attention, having seen them offline too. Now big companies restrict their messaging to quick video messages and leave banner and search result advertisements to smaller ventures.

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