The marketing discipline had its origins in the early 20th century as an offspring of economics. Economic science had neglected the role of middlemen and the role of functions other than price in the determination of demand levels and characteristics. Early marketing economists examined agricultural and industrial markets and described them in greater detail than the classical economists. This examination resulted in the development of three approaches to the analysis of marketing activity: the commodity, the institution, and the function.
A firm employing a product orientation is mainly concerned with the quality of its product. A product orientation is based on the assumption that all things being equal, consumers will purchase products of superior quality. The approach is most effective when the firm has deep insights into customer needs and desires as derived from research or intuition and understands consumer's quality expectations and price consumers are willing to pay. Although the product orientation has largely been supplanted by the marketing orientation, firms practicing a product orientation can still be found in haute couture and arts marketing.