The discipline of marketing hasn’t kept up with the rapid changes facing 21st-century businesses. New scholarship doesn’t have enough management relevance, and practicing marketers are too often forsaking rigor. Here are seven strategies that can make marketing both relevant and rigorous in today’s world.
Editor's Note:The following is excerpted from a paper the author presented when he accepted MIT's 2007 Buck Weaver Award, which recognizes individuals who have made important contributions to the advancement of theory and practice in marketing science. The full text of the paper, "Rigor and Relevance: A Key Marketing Challenge," is available online at sloanreview.mit.edu.
The world in which marketing operates has fundamentally changed. Thomas Friedman has sketched the outline of the new realities of our "flat world" and Kenichi Ohmae has discussed the requirements of operating on "the new global stage."1 The rise of China, India and other emerging economies has demanded new market strategies to reach developing countries. Technologies from the Internet to biotechnology are fundamentally changing science and society. At the same time, social concerns from environmental impact to corporate social responsibility are changing the relationships of companies to the societies in which they operate.
New channels and technologies are transforming the media through which marketing works. Virtual worlds such as Second Life are giving new meaning to the concept of "place" in marketing. Collaborative projects such as open source software and Wikipedia are transforming the consumer into a cocreator. Movies and entertainment have broken out of the television box and into the iPod, cell phones and computers. The broadcast has been transformed into the podcast. TiVo and other technological innovations have made the mass media more customized, eliminating the predictability of traditional advertising. (See "The Changing Context.")