The concept of marketing has evolved tremendously over the years. The evolution is in line with changes taking place in the society. Many authors have debated over the topic and evaluated the concept regularly. In light of this, marketing is recognised as a distinct domain and discipline in the academic and business field. To this end, numerous definitions of this concept have been proposed. The intention of such conceptualisations is to capture what the term means to various groups. For example, a doctor and an engineer may view marketing from different perspectives depending on their personal and professional orientations.
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Over the past five decades, the concept of marketing has been defined to fit various contexts. For example, there is marketing in the political, social, and not-for-profit sectors. Technological evolutions, new media, and new marketing techniques have led to increased opportunities of re-defining this practice.
Some of the definitions of this term have diluted the meaning of the concept. Conceptualisations have been forwarded to suit the focus of various job groups. To this effect, such terms as advertising, sales, customer service, and marketing have been used interchangeably. Both marketers and salespeople continue to apply these terms to suit their own needs. Ultimately, marketing appears to have lost its original meaning. The reason is that the application of the concept has changed to include processes that are part of promotion of goods and services.
In this paper, the author will critically review the definition provided by Nigel Piercy. The aim is to identify the strengths and weaknesses of this definition, as well as the gaps that may exist in relation to the use of the marketing concept in the context of this scholar. Recommendations are made to management practitioners in the context of the review provided.
Definition of Marketing
According to Gamble, Gilmore, McCartan-Quinn and Durkan (2011), numerous authors have acknowledged the extensive misrepresentation, ignorance, and hostility meted out on marketing as a business concept. Achrol and Kotler (2012) agree with this position. Achrol and Kotler (2012) argue that in spite of the increased knowledge on marketing in the society, the concept is not yet well understood. Many people still confuse it with other terms and practices in the business world.
The arbitrary nature of marketing emanates from the constantly changing technological contexts and socio-cultural perspectives (Gamble et al. 2011). The practice has changed in tandem with these developments. Consequently, marketing is a dynamic, as opposed to a static, subject. The various definitions of this term seek to bring out the meaning of the concept under varying perspectives or viewpoints.
Piercy (2009) provides a unique definition of marketing. According to the scholar, the term refers to a set of management activities carried out in the business world. The tasks referred to conceptualise, create, and avail value to consumers. The definition is very extensive by nature. It specifies events that constitute marketing, as well as the ultimate goal of the concept. Piercy is regarded as a figure of authority in the marketing field. As such, one would expect the definitions and ideas proposed by this scholar to be revered in the marketing field. However, alternative definitions from other scholars reflect diverse opinions.
Kotler and Lee (2009) provide their own version of the marketing concept. The two authors define it as the process through which individuals and groups in the society meet their needs and wants. Meeting the needs is achieved through the creation and exchange of goods and services among such individuals. On their part, Kotler (2011) echoes the conceptualisation advanced by the American Marketing Association (AMA) in 2008. The association views the concept as the activities, agencies, and processes involved in the creation of value. The value is created and then communicated and delivered to the consumers. Other stakeholders involved in this chain of value creation involve clients, partners, and the society at large (Kotler 2011).
Shultz (2007) views marketing as a form of constructive engagement between various trade partners. The engagement entails a societal function and a set of systemic processes. The aim is to create and deliver value to the consumers, as already indicated by other scholars. The definition by Schultz addresses the issue of managing customer and societal relationships. The management is carried out to benefit both the local and the global stakeholders of these processes.
Piercy’s Definition of Marketing, Kotler’s View, and other Leading Perspectives
As already indicated, both Piercy and Kotler are global leaders in the marketing field. Their perspectives on marketing have enhanced and shaped the development of this concept over the years. However, a critical analysis of the latest definitions provided by these scholars reveals that their viewpoints differ.
For example, Piercy’s conceptualisation of marketing focuses on the managerial aspect of this practice. According to Piercy (2009), the managers of business organisations are the drivers behind marketing. They do this to generate value for the business organisations and the customers. Fundamentally, Piercy is a positivist. His major emphasis with regards to marketing activities is on both the managerial and the strategic processes. According to this scholar, a number of strategic components are essential in addressing marketing challenges. They include value, market, and internet strategies. Others are process and change strategies.
It is apparent that the definition of marketing by Piercy focuses on greater value for the business organisation. The value is achieved through mobilisation of managers and other relevant resources. New marketing perspectives emphasise on strategic response to the demands of consumers. Such reactions are provided by availing superior value by companies supplying goods and services (Piercy 2009).
The definition by Kotler and Lee (2009) takes into consideration the needs of the larger society. Societal needs are addressed in spite of the fact that the definition focuses largely on exchange of value. According to Gamble et al. (2011), Kotler uses the term freely in relation to exchange. The roles of the producer and the consumer are omitted. As such, the definition signifies a dynamic move intended to break the boundary between the various parties. In addition, the introduction of a highly integrative and interactive marketing experience makes the definition stand out from the rest.
Other recent views conform to the marketing definition provided by Piercy. However, these new perspectives bring on board the aspects of societal exchanges and interactive marketing processes. Shultz (2007) focuses on a constructive relationship between the marketers and the consumers. Such a perspective enhances relationships in the society. On the other hand, AMA emphasises on the need for exchanging offerings that enhance the value of all marketing stakeholders.
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The analysed recent definitions of marketing indicate the primary marketing objective of creating value for all stakeholders. Although Piercy definition is biased towards the organisation management, all the definitions concur on creating, and exchanging value between marketing stakeholders.
According to Achrol and Kotler (2012), the fundamental marketing process is consumption, whereas the elemental concepts in consumption include value, utility and satisfaction. However, a new concept in marketing has evolved because of the digital age of information, service economy, and knowledge products. The concept is consumer experiences (Achrol & Kotler 2012).
Piercy definition of marketing therefore omits a very essential component in the contemporary marketing (Gamble et al. 2011). Furthermore, Piercy definition needs to embrace how marketing concept has broadened over the years. Marketing currently is beyond products, but incorporates other offerings including services, places, experiences, persons, causes and, ideas among others.
Managerial Recommendations on Marketing
According to Kotler (2011), a whole new marketing environment has is emerging, having grown over the years. The emerging environment is affecting both the science and the practice of marketing currently, and in the near future. Consequently, marketers have realised the impacts of forces such as internet, globalisation, and social media. They are also aware of the effects of retail concentration and cultural variations. Other factors involve promotion of brand, environmental dynamics, and recession. All these factors influence marketing.
According to Piercy (2009), marketing has evolved. Defining the practice focuses on the management as they market their products and services. The author stresses several drivers of the new age marketing, essential to every manager. According to Piercy (2009), value superiority is the key to succeed against competitors in this era of new marketing. Value based marketing is the next step towards gaining customer loyalty, as well as in the search for superior performance (Piercy 2009). Therefore, the greatest challenge facing managers in relation to marketing is determination of value drivers, for different customer groups. In addition, anticipating the evolution of the value drivers for consumers will ensure continued superiority in the market.
In the opinion of Cravens, Piercy, and Baldauf (2009), managers and strategy makers need to fully capture, as well as analyze relevant forces creating market opportunities and business strategy requirements. Hence, in marketing, it is essential that manager in some instances alter target markets, and positioning strategies. Consequently, the possibility of using different strategies and penetrating new markets arises. In extreme cases however, existing from the core business might prove the best alternative.
A good illustration in relation to the changing market environment is Kodak’s case. Eastman Kodak’s delay in responding to the potential impact resulting from digital photography lost the company significant resources, and market share (Cravens et al. 2009). Disruptive and pervasive consequences of digital imaging technology severely affected the traditional camera and film markets demand. Rapid transformation in relation to Kodak’s marketing strategy, business design, and strategic vision could have saved the company much trouble.
According to Gamble et al. (2011), managers also currently need to shift some focus towards understanding the emerging service dominant logic theory. The theory is based on that organizations markets as well as the society are primarily concerned with service exchanges (Gamble et al. 2011). Vargo and Lusch (2004) argue that competencies (knowledge and skills) are applied for the benefit of marketing shareholders. Thus, services constitute the fundamental basis of exchange (Vargo & Lusch 2004).
The service dominant logic theory shifts marketing as the central basis of exchange, and the key driver of exchange between societies and markets. Services take this central role of exchange, hence their importance to contemporary marketing. Considering the varying definitions of marketing however, managers need to understand the lack of a definitive marketing theory (Carson & Gilmore 2000; Carson & McCartan-Quinn 1995).
Carson and McCartan-Quinn (1995) highlight the reasons for the various marketing theories and definitions, and the lack of a unifying theory for managers to apply. Usually, marketing process is carried out depending on the context, as well as limiting resources constraints (Carson & Gilmore 2000). An illustration is marketing by Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
According to Gamble et al. (2011), marketing by SMEs differs from that outlined by various scholarly materials or books. The nature of small firms usually differs, in addition to the fact that these firms cannot be separated from their owners. Consequently, marketing carried out therein is largely determined by manager’s personality. Marketing decisions usually arise from trigger by personal contacts, or market signals.
Based on the analysis of the various marketing definitions analyzed in the study, it is apparent that marketing is still an evolving concept, influenced by many factors. Globalization and increasing competitiveness will broaden consumer choice as well as demand. Consequently, this will affect the nature of interactions between marketing shareholders. In addition, companies will require doing more in order to attain superior competitiveness.
Over the years marketing has evolved, dominant themes in marketing definitions have remained. The themes have included competitiveness, understanding customer, problem-solving, and conveying value. Therefore, it is important that marketing definitions incorporate social relevance, as well as overall importance for all marketing stakeholders (Blythe 2009).
The definitions of the marketing concept in future might also selectively omit some aspects of marketing as evident from the definition by Piercy. Although they might choose omitting features such as consumers or producers, the underpinning marketing role will surely remain. Interactivity primary for creation of a balanced relationship, between consumers, companies and the society should feature in the future definitions.
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