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Marketing of Information Services: Challenges for Sustainable

Development of Library and Information Centres in the

New Millennium

Dr Kanchan Kamila
Asstt. Librarian
Information Scientist (offg.)
The University of Burdwan
Burdwan – 713104
West Bengal, INDIA
Mob. No. : 9474373558
e-mail: kanchan_lis@yahoo.co.in
Mentions the marketing concept and the forces behind the information marketing, value
measurement of information products and services, strategies of marketing management and role
of IT and networking, library association/research centre for information marketing, workshops,
conferences and proceedings and training programmes regarding information marketing in
Keywords: Marketing, Value, Advertising, Promotion

1 Introduction
We are living in the information age. In this regard it is worthwhile to state that to live in
information age it is vital importance to be well informed. As we need food to live and survive,
information is also required to live intelligently and competitively. To live healthy and fit we
need to eat proper nutritious food to satisfy our physical appetite, and for our knowledge and
information hunger we always starve for updated information which can enable one to survive in
the new era. As information is becoming lifeblood for everybody it has its competitive advantage
and because of competitive advantages, information is falling under the category of saleable and
marketable commodity. Because it is common market strategy that goods which are very much
in demand and first in supply are most desirable products to produce, for higher profits and larger
turnovers. So when we consider information as a product it is essential to market this product
and for it to set the marketing strategies for this product.
The recognition of information as a commodity or organisational resource is not very new
in the developed countries. Through the situation is different in a developing country like ours. In
India, now people are gradually becoming conscious that information is not only the raw
material for prosperity and growth of society but also an important commodity for industry and
commerce. The traditional function of the library as a depository for the printed world is no
longer valid, a new sector is already emerged – ‘the information industry’. Information is an
expensive commodity. The selection, acquisition, processing and dissemination of information
are labour intensive and cost oriented activities. Libraries and information centres should utilise
adequately the information they have, to realise the investment made on them.
Several factors are responsible in reshaping the library and information services. It is
more than a mere contention that the position of permanence and solidity enjoyed by library and
information services is now under a bombardment of threats for variety of factors, services and
systems which have come to the fore on widespread technological, social and economic levels.
The following forces have been identified.
i) Competition vi) Information Revolution
ii) Manpower cut vii) Information Technology
iii) Financial Crisis viii)Information Superhighway
iv) Increasing Costs ix) Increased Demand for Information
v) Rupee Fluctuation
2 The Concept of Marketing
Marketing means working with markets to actualize potential exchanges for the purpose
of satisfying human needs and wants. It is the process of planning and executing the conception,
pricing, promotion and distribution of goods, services and ideas to create exchanges with target
groups that satisfy customers and organisational objectives (Kotler, 1996).

Marketing is not a totally new concept for libraries. Most of the libraries have practiced
public relations, have studied users, have consciously or unconsciously segmented the user
community and have attempted to develop services to meet specific needs. However, marketing
by libraries has been more passive than active, more reflexive than protagnoistic, until recently
many librarians have the opinion that there is no room for marketing in non-profit organisations
like libraries, and non-profit profession like librarianship. Early theoreticians also believed that
the concept of marketing did not apply to the service sector. The classical model of marketing
has changed and now there is wide spread agreement that marketing is equally valid for service
industries and includes intangible such as library service industries and includes intangibles such
as information given to satisfy a need.
Some of the concepts considered relevant in the context of marketing of library and
information services are i) Market research and customers’ analysis ii) Development of product
and services iii) Pricing iv) Distribution v) Promotion vi) Evaluation of products and services.
The word selling is used as synonym of marketing which is not correct. Selling is one of
the parts of marketing process and it is mainly concerned with higher sales of the products and
earns maximum profits through volume sales and it is not concerned with users need and
satisfaction. To the contrary the marketing philosophy concentrates on the analysis of consumers
and strives for fuller satisfaction of users. Marketing genuinely looks for the real differences in
the tastes of consumers and develops products and services to satisfy those tastes. According to
Doust (1986) “marketing has sufficiently flexibility to adopt not only the changes in the needs of
consumers but also the changes in consumers themselves”.
The term ‘Price’ means the exchange value of a product or services expressed in terms of
money. The product/service should be priced suitably depending on competitive situation of the
market. The price of the product should be such that the user should be able to pay willingly. As
the service of the library is so far being provided free of cost, therefore, it will be difficult to
motivate people to pay for such services unless and until some new value is added to the product.
In such a situation in the beginning cost based pricing could be taken and which can be increased
gradually depending on the response of the users. However, marketing needs to be seen as an
integral, pervasive aspect of responsive public service management.

The library association/research centre can conduct seminars and conferences to make
atmosphere for information marketing. They can also invite specialist of marketing to train the
library professionals about advertising, promotion and pricing policies.

3 Values of Information Products and Services and Marketing Cycle

Marketing is related with value of products and services. Value is an attribute (it does not
exist independently) that can be applied to almost any entity. In other words, Value = the amount
buyers are willing to pay for what a firm provides. Value is measured by total revenue and the
units it can sell.
However, the act of attributing a value to something, in effect establishes an equivalence
relationship (or set of such relationships), which can be expressed by the equation: VA = VB,
where the value of A is equivalent to the value of B and A≠ B. A and B may be the same type of
entity; usually they differ. Consider, for example, following statements of value:
i) The value of my house is Rs. 4, 00,000. ii) $ 1 is equivalent to Rs. 46.35.
iii) A reliable car is worth its weight in gold. iv) My catapult is worth five of your marbles.
Equivalence statements of this type define what one would be prepared to exchange for the
utility that is being valued – in other words, the exchange value. Value has three further
characteristics. First it is subjective. Value can be assessed by individuals, groups, organisations,
or society as a whole. Second, assessments are situation dependent and, consequently, vary over
time. Finally, value can be either positive or negative. Manifestations of positive value are
benefits, and of negative value are detriments. The characteristics of value can be summarized
as: i)VA = VB. ii) A≠ B iii) A and B can belong to the same set iv) VA, VB can be positive or
negative v) VA, VB can vary with time.
Net value measured by the difference between the maximum amount that individuals would
be willing to pay and the price they actually have to pay (the area under the curve between P max
and P) (Machlup, 1979).


o Quantities Demanded Qmax

Figure 1: Price vs. quantities demanded
Total value can be measured through apparent value (A), consequential value (C) (e.g.,
savings value), higher-order consequential value (H), net value (simple substitution) (NS) and
net value (complex substitution) (NC). Total value = f (A, C, H, NS, NC) + X, where X
represents unquantifiable aspects of value.
From the above discussion, it is clear that what is value? To relate the value with
information we have to know the characteristics and functional laws of information.
Characteristics of information:
i) Inconsumable ii) Indivisible iii) Accumulative iv) Intangible v) Indestructible
Functional laws of information:
• i) Permits indefinite proliferation of access through variant forms;
• ii) Every generation of access suffers from partial loss of information; and
• iii) Value of information changes inversely with the rate of access by the
users of a segment.
Perhaps marketing can best be understood in relation to an organisation’s or service’s overall
planning cycle. Such a process is sketched in the following figure.

Establish goals Self
and objectives Convince proposals to
politicians of the staff
need for a new
service philosophy

Service product
Market analysis/ review Benefit
community segmentatio
profiling n
Devise forward plan

Sell package to

Restructure service

Publicity & promotion

Programme evaluation

Figure 2: The Marketing Cycle

Source: Wagner, P.A., (1979) Marketing for NPOs … American Marketing Association, Chicago.

4 Marketing Management and Its Strategies

Kotler (1991), the pioneer of introducing the marketing concept for non-profit
organisations, and control of carefully formulated programmes designed to bring about
voluntary exchanges of values with target markets for the purpose of achieving organisational
objectives. It lies heavily on designing the organisation’s offering in terms of the target markets’
needs and desires, and on using effective pricing, communication, and distribution to inform,
motivate, and service the markets. The concept of marketing in libraries and information centres
in gaining momentum. Adopting the marketing concept by the library professional gives them
positive direction towards surviving and serving their clientele in better means. In the fast
changing environment, the libraries are required to manage and establish as Cronin (1985)
argues “prevailing economic thinking is no respecter of tradition (however long and venerable
the tradition), and libraries will have to defend themselves in the face of monetarist values”. The
crux of the concept of marketing is ‘user’ not the profit.
However, marketing is the management process which identifies, anticipates and supplies
customer requirements efficiently and profitably.
Marketing strategies are:

i) Ready to Face Challenges viii) Users Focus
ii) Setting Objectives ix) Differentiation
iii) Creation of Value x) Innovation
iv) Upgrade and Develop Skills xi) Professionalism
v) Quality is the Key xii) Reengineering
vi) Resource Sharing xiii) Segmentation Analysis
vii) Public Relations xiv) Marketing
5 Impacts of IT and Networking
With the advent of information and communication technology, the job of marketing has
become easier and effective. In the context of library and information it becomes more effective
because library is a service industry in which it is easier to implement latest IT tools. The library
services in this century are predominantly dependent on information technologies. As India, a
developing nation is on mission to equip its people with latest information uses IT tools in library
for information access, marketing of information products and services. These are made more
effective with aid of different electronic sources of communication.
In order to control and price of information products and services, libraries have entered
into cooperative congress and developed networking in local areas to transit information at high
speed. They also need to connect data devices such as computers, terminals, printers and other
peripherals in order to exchange, text, numeric and graphic information. It is likely that Local
Area Network (LAN) is used in different types of libraries. Academic libraries for example often
operate with split sites and multi-storeyed buildings. Here LANs are used to support sharing of
disc storage and other expensive central facilities such as printers. LAN is a means of making of
workstation for an OPAC (On-line Public Access Catalogue) available in a variety of different
location, public libraries are widely scattered in location. Special libraries and other information
managers are likely to have the opportunity to exploit LAN that covers the whole organisation.
Here the LAN is used as a means of more direct contact with users as an avenue for offering a
wider variety of services.
Videotext provides information to the users from databases stored on powerful computer,
and interactive access to existing computerised databases. Current application can be divided
into two main categories, community information and bibliographic information. Teletext is a
non-interactive form of videotext and as such is a system designed for the general public and

mass communication. Libraries are using the E-mail to investigate the potential of this facility.
As libraries install computer network, between their various points electronic mail and software
could assist in the exchange of or access to management information.
Information marketing is possible through electronic journals. Electronic communication,
network can be used for writing, submitting and referring papers and in other activities. As a
developing nation, India is also in the race of information highway. Internet is becoming an
effective media for information marketing. Internet has narrowed down the distances between
and among countries. Various web sites and different search engines put the information products
and services on their home pages, which can be assessed by wide range of users. This way the
price of information is utilised as well as marketed.
7 Conclusions
In India, the marketing concept in the library and information environment is catching up.
A workshop on marketing of information products and services was organised on 27 November –
01 December 1989 at CSIR, New Delhi by UNESCO, NISSAT and AGLIS, IIM, Lucknow, has
been offering training programmes on the same topic and on 26th April, 1997 a one day seminar
was organised by UTI Institute of Capital markets in association with Bombay Science
Librarians’ Association at Navi Mumbai to discuss the issues involved.
However, to resist in the age of nail-biting competition library and information centres
must follow the competitive strategies of the industry. Summary of the firm’s strategies are:
Competitive strategies:
• To gain a favourable competitive position in an industry;
• The first determinant of a firm is profitability;
• Must grow out of a sophisticated understanding of the rules of competition. Rules of
competition embodied in five competitive forces – i) new entrants ii) substitutes iii)
buyers bargaining power iv) suppliers bargaining power v) intra industry rivalry;
• Profitability depends on whether firms can capture the value they create for buyers or the
value is combined away to others;
• For low cost competitive advantages three generic strategies are i) cost leadership ii)
differentiation iii) focus;

• Value chain to study the sources of competitive advantages to understand the cost
behaviour, existing and potential sources of differentiation;
• Firm performed to design, produce, market, deliver and support product/service;
• SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, Threats) analysis
• Firm audit to understand i) customers and their needs ii) continuous rethought of products
and services iii) to provide potentially relevant information.

1. Cronin, B., (1985) Disjointed incrementalism and 1990, Aslib Proceedings, 37, 11-12, 422.
2. Doust, P., (1986) Fundamentals of Marketing, Financial Trading, London, 134.
3. Kotler, P., (1991) Marketing Management, Prentice Hall, New Delhi, India, 6.
4. Kotler, P., (1996) Marketing Management, Analysis, Planning, Implementation and
Control. 8th ed, rep., Prentice Hall, New Delhi, India, 12-13.
5. Machlup, Fritz., (1979 Sept) Uses, value and benefits of knowledge: knowledge, creation,
differentiation, utilization, 1, 1, 62-81.