As it is fundamental for any business to be sustainable in the dynamic, global environment, making profit can be seen as a company's overall objective. Considering that, Ted Levitt (1960) explains in his article ‘Marketing myopia' the necessity of companies to sell products and services, which meet customer expectations. In order to find out what and how to sell products and services, the notion of the Marketing Concept was introduced.
Based on the high relevance of Marketing in daily business life, many new forms of research have developed, justified by the high usefulness of their outcomes. In his book, Hackley criticizes marketing for not being based on practical outcomes of research, as marketing but still being taught as a “resolutely one-dimensional problem-solving discipline” (Hackley, 2009: 45). He describes the taught approach as narrow, problem-solving and uncritical (Hackley, 2009) and therefore as incapable of assisting managers in business decisions.
This essay will argue that this statement is not tenable because nowadays marketing textbooks ….. e way marketing is presented to managers and students. The focuss lies on the way consumer behaviour is considered and taught in two marketing textbooks. Then, looking at possible reasons and explanations for the occurring results.
In book, Hackley (2009) thematises the apparent “narrow-mindedness” (Hackley, 2009:) of marketing studies, mentioning its “fatal ethnical, practical and intellectual shortcomings” (2). The author states that the taught prescriptions do not work in the real world as they are “thoroughly dehumanized” (5). Baines, Fill & Page (2011) refute Hackelys accusation of narrow-mindedness by considering the constant value shifts in customers and the ongoing global developments. Kiefer & Steve (2012) agree with Baines et al by pointing out the understanding of the complex customer wants and needs is essential. Those two textbooks concentrate on all influences that might lead a customer to a purchase decision.
Hackley (2009) cites Lusch & Vargo (2004) to state that the focus of the marketing concept taught in marketing books is outdated, since the turn in industry from tangible resources to services and customer relationships is not given due attention in the books. However, this change is discussed in the textbooks (quote). Both Baines(Kiefer mention relationship marketing a concept that came about as a response to this turn. By doing this they change rather than adhering to the “narrow” understanding of the Marketing Concept. This model widens the considered influences on business for example by also taking external markets like suppliers into account. As can be seen, the marketing textbooks adjust to changes in real-life by introducing new or adjusting previous models. The point that “the discipline has not evolved new theories to challenge or replace the old ones” (Hackley, 2009: 6) is thus not (or at least not anymore) true.
In addition to Hackleys (2009) criticism of the marketing concept as a generalized and easy to apply set of methods, he also mentions the lack of a “critical perspective“ (page no) in the taught approaches. However, both textbooks Baines/K address this topic by arguing that the taught consumer behaviour models should be viewed with „healthy scepticism“ (Baines, et al., 2011 page), as there is no single or general approach for such a complex topic (Baines, et al., 2011; Kiefer & Steve, 2012). Both marketing textbooks highlight the fact that the frameworks are not generally applicable and stress the challenges of dealing with consumer behaviour (including personal as well as cultural differences). The textbooks try to make the students aware of the limitations and criticisms of the taught approaches by discussing them openly. The fact that the textbooks introduce different methods, shows that there is no one generally accepted approach.
This narrowness, outdated focus and uncriticallity lead to the main point of Hackleys critique: the inapplicability of the prescriptions taught in management studies to business situations. In this case, why should students study marketing methods and theories that are not applicable in the business world? According to Kiefer & Steve (2012), because the frameworks and approaches taught in marketing textbooks are able to assist the managers in planning and decision making they are still a helpful tool in business situations. As marketing is represented in every sector of business, there is a need of adjusting the marketing techniques to each situation (Blois, 1974). The big range of applications fields of marketing for various products or services in different industry sectors and environments makes an all-round, generally applicable approach impossible. Consequently, various different approaches are taught that need to be carefully selected by the manager and still need the right adjustment to suit the business task. However, that does not justify saying that the taught prescriptions are inapplicable.
In his book, Hackley says that there is hardy any connection between the conducted research and the application in management, which should
Why should research be conducted if its outcomes are not used afterwards?
INCLUDE THAT POINT?!? Introd.
To sum up the findings, it can be said that the Hackleys arguments that lead to his statement that marketing studies are….can be refuted by the analysed textbooks. It might have been the case in 2009 how and of course textbooks lag behind, because as we have seen, they are based on the analysis and findings of research and try to be as realistic as possible.
However, we still have to keep the purpose of marketing studies and textbooks in mind. It is the starting point for students, which might not have any background knowledge in the area of marketing.
The complexity of consumer behaviour mentioned by Hackley (2009), as well as the two textbooks, raises the question whether any framework can be useful. It is not possible to foresee consumer behaviour but managers can still make use of some helpful generalizations that can be made (Kiefer & Steve, 2012). We have to keep in mind that the intention of framework is to assist in making decisions or to give a rough guideline which has to be developed and adjusted depending on the situation. If there would be the one and always working way to success many more companies would be successful.
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