The concepts of micromarketing and macromarketing were pioneered by William D. Perreault and E. Jerome McCarthy in their seminal book "Basic Marketing." While micromarketing encompasses all of what we consider to be marketing in the popular sense, macromarketing examines how society makes decisions on an aggregate basis. The differences between the two spark thought-provoking debates.
Micromarketing addresses the activities of individual firms -- how they identify the needs of the consumers and how they get their products into the hands of those consumers. Rather than convincing consumers to buy products they do not need, a substantial part of micromarketing is conducting research to understand basic consumer needs. Satisfying those needs revolves around the four P's -- product, place, promotion and price. Marketing seeks to build solid customer relationships in order to maintain repeat business for the benefit of the firm.
Macromarketing is the study of how society distributes goods and services. More than just the economics of supply and demand, macromarketing considers the social impact of issues such as advertising, pollution and misused resources. Perreault and McCarthy identified eight activities that are universal macromarketing functions -- buying, selling, transporting, storing, standardization and grading, financing, risk-taking and sharing market information. People perform these functions to provide the goods and services that society wants. In an ideal world, these functions would be performed to maximize society's use of resources and minimize waste and environmental damage.
Micromarketing is centered on the needs of the firm. Survival is a micro objective, which is accomplished by the firm generating more sales, earning more profit and building market share. Macromarketing focuses on the needs and objectives of society as a whole. Like the economics discipline, it is concerned with the welfare of society, looking at all of society's needs and resources. Survival of society is a macro issue. Beyond survival are the needs to improve the standard of living and maximize consumer satisfaction.
Micromarketing pits companies at odds with the goals of macromarketing. Activities that make sense at the micro level may be hard to justify at the macro level. A large advertising budget to market a designer product, for example, makes perfectly good sense at the micro level but might be viewed as a waste of resources at the macro level. Likewise the public's demand for throwaway plastic packaging and disposable items is satisfied at the micro level but is perceived as wasteful at the macro. While the dichotomy seems clear, it begs the question -- who determines what is wasteful? If maximizing consumer satisfaction is a macro objective, then providing consumers with what they want hardly seems wasteful to some.