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What Is Retail Marketing?

The retail market essentially consists of sales of finished goods directly to consumers and the services required to support those sales. The U.S. retail market is huge — consumer spending accounted for two-thirds of the nearly $18 trillion GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in 2015.

Further, the retail market is extraordinarily diverse, comprising everything from Brooks Brothers, which opened in 1818, to the new e-commerce sites launching even as you read this article. And while we tend to associate stores and online commerce with retail, the industry also includes the following channels:

  • MLM or multi-level marketing.
  • Infomercials.
  • Catalog or mail-order sales.
  • Vending machines.

The industry’s diversity extends to the seemingly endless array of products that consumers buy — from car seats for safe transport of babies to headstones that honor final resting places.

While retail is known for providing young, inexperienced members of the workforce with entry-level jobs, it also offers opportunities for individuals with advanced degrees including, for example, a Master of Business Administration. It is relatively easier to find a management position in the retail industry — given its sheer size — than in other industry sectors. Brick-and-mortar stores along with e-commerce websites need marketing managers who understand the U.S. retail industry.

In fact, despite the significant number of legacy store closings and bankruptcies in 2015, employment in the U.S. retail industry grew every month.

Watch television for an evening, surf a few websites, or thumb through a magazine, and you’ll sense that retail is an extraordinarily competitive sector of the economy, with a healthy demand for retail marketing managers.

Common Responsibilities

All kinds of retailers need professionals to handle their marketing departments and marketing campaigns. Employers can range in size from single local store to global retail chain. They can be brick-and-mortar, e-commerce, or a combination of the two, for example. But in every case, increased sales are usually the top goal and biggest responsibility for retail marketing managers.

These professionals have to understand not only the company’s products but also the company’s customers. Today, these professionals have a variety of tools they can use to find new customers and discover ways to sell more of their products to existing customers.

Big data has become crucial for the retail industry in the U.S. Companies are using it to forecast demand, anticipate trends, optimize pricing, pinpoint customers, and much more. When employers recruit professionals for their marketing departments, they seek expertise in statistics and big data analytics.

However, the retail marketing manager’s job goes beyond interpreting and understanding collected data. The manager must be able to apply data insights to developing marketing and advertising programs that increase the company’s sales.

Marketing Campaigns

Whether your company is internet-based or does business mostly from traditional stores, you’ll be using a wide range of media and strategies in your marketing campaigns. A couple of decades ago, a marketing professional in a traditional store typically used print media, radio and perhaps television for advertising or marketing campaigns.

Today, that same professional in the same traditional store will probably work with a wide range of online advertising and marketing strategies in addition to all of the legacy media.

For example, some of the most popular companies to follow on Instagram have been retail leaders for many years. These include Macy’s, Sharpie (the pen maker), General Electric, Burberry, and Taco Bell.

The efforts of companies to leverage the internet underscore its role in retail success. Overall, 81 percent of all purchase decisions today start with the buyer doing research online. This trend highlights the importance of social media marketing and content marketing.

However, a point to note is that e-commerce retailers are including legacy media in their advertising and marketing. For instance, has a sizable television advertising budget.

Based on the facts, you can see that retail marketing managers have options — they can either concentrate their efforts in certain areas or branch out into positions that encompass a variety of media.

Looking at Today and Into the Future

The national average salary for a retail marketing manager is approximately $61,000 per year. This figure varies not only by location but also by industry and company. A non-scientific survey found these average marketing manager salaries as of August 2016:

  • $87,000 at T-Mobile.
  • $70,350 at Volcom.
  • $57,350 at Procter & Gamble.

Retail sector job growth stayed constant and averaged 7 percent per year through 2014. With nearly 16 million employees in 2015, the retail industry employed almost one in 10 workers in the U.S. With its 7 percent growth rate, the retail industry’s demand for marketing professionals — especially MBAs with a knowledge of retail marketing — is correspondingly on the rise.

Finding a Career in Retail Marketing

Considering the retail marketing professional’s type of work and salary range, along with the size and growth of this segment of the economy — expected to add more than 7.5 million jobs between 2014 and 2024 — it seems that the retail industry in the U.S. is an area that online MBA degree holders should actively consider.

Adding to the retail industry’s appeal is its presence in virtually every region of the country, so job seekers can target where they would like to live and work. In addition, telecommuting may be an option for retail marketing managers who specialize in e-commerce.

Learn more about UT Tyler’s online MBA with a Concentration in Marketing program.


YCharts: 2015 Consumer Spending as Percentage of GDP

Retail Info Systems News: Top 10 Oldest U.S. Retailers

U.S. BLS: Back Data for Retail Trade Workforce

Forbes: Big Data — A Game Changer in the Retail Sector

Business Insider: These 20 Brands Have Mastered the Use of Instagram

AdWeek: 81% of Shoppers Conduct Online Research Before Buying

Glassdoor: Retail Marketing Manager Salaries

U.S. BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook: Retail Sales Workers

U.S. BLS Employment Projections

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