Stated simply, Services Marketing refers to the marketing of services as against tangible products.
As already discussed, services are inherently intangible, are consumed simultaneously at the time of their production, cannot be stored, saved or resold once they have been used and service offerings are unique and cannot be exactly repeated even by the same service provider.
Marketing of services is a relatively new phenomenon in the domain of marketing, having gained in importance as a discipline only towards the end of the 20th century.
Services marketing first came to the fore in the 1980s when the debate started on whether marketing of services was significantly different from that of products so as to be classified as a separate discipline. Prior to this, services were considered just an aid to the production and marketing of goods and hence were not deemed as having separate relevance of their own.
The 1980s however saw a shift in this thinking. As the service sector started to grow in importance and emerged as a significant employer and contributor to the GDP, academics and marketing practitioners began to look at the marketing of services in a new light. Empirical research was conducted which brought to light the specific distinguishing characteristics of services.
By the mid 1990s, Services Marketing was firmly entrenched as a significant sub discipline of marketing with its own empirical research and data and growing significance in the increasingly service sector dominated economies of the new millennium. New areas of study opened up in the field and were the subject of extensive empirical research giving rise to concepts such as - the product-service spectrum, relationship marketing, franchising of services, customer retention etc.
Given the intangibility of services, marketing them becomes a particularly challenging and yet extremely important task.