In business terms, the word “market” has two meanings. This is because it can be both a noun and a verb. Thus, businesses “market” their products and services in a “market.” Within those two broad categories, there are a number of other subtle definition differences.
To “market” something is to sell it, or prepare it for sale. This is the root of the word “marketing.” Marketing involves more than just putting a “For Sale” sign on something. The responsibilities of this discipline chain back deep into the organisation. The marketing department is involved in product design and development. The product has to assume an image and marketing consultants will use tricks of association to try to give the product the attributes that appeal to the market sector they have decided this product should occupy.
Most people understand marketing to be another word for advertising and this is part of finding a market for a product. Marketing “markets” a product in different ways, either by franchising, through a company-owned chain of outlets, through brokers charging commission or through wholesalers and retailers who charge a mark up. These are “marketing channels.” They lead to the market.
The market is the big wide world full of potential customers. The market is global, continental, international, domestic, regional or local. Markets are contained in markets. So, the UK is a market, but so is the West Midlands and so is your neighbourhood. For a corner shop, the market is a catchment area defined by walking distance. A supermarket may count anyone within a ten mile driving radius part of their potential market. A supermarket chain regards the whole country as a market, while also focusing on the markets of each individual outlet. Some businesses are actually in a market, in a marketplace, or at a flea market, or a car boot sale.
Businesses are involved in all sorts of markets. They not only participate in markets where they sell their goods, they are also “in the market” to buy supplies. Some businesses are traded on the stock markets, others needs to trade on commodities exchanges and derivative markets. They may raise money, or store their savings on the bond market. Anyone involved in foreign trade will need to take a position on the currency markets. Businesses need to keep on top of all markets.