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Goodbye and good luck Mr. Kotler


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Goodbye and good luck Mr. Kotler

  1. 1. Marketing Goodbye and good luck, Mr Kotler by Christian Blümelhuber Goodbyes are never easy. Theyre particularly hard when you have to bid your adieus to people whom you like and respect, and to stars that have as much meaning and influence as Mister Kotler. However, regardless of how hard it is, dear Kotlerians, it is time for to say goodbye. Your reign is over. We, the marketers, are leaving the “Kotlerian sector”!3 6 I Expertise from Solvay Business School I June 2007
  2. 2. MarketingB ill Gates, Steve Jobs and Alan seems to be imperfect substitution con- play the old songs and keep the light Greenspan, Herbert Simon, cerning his ideas around the so-called burning. But those old songs are just Peter Drucker and Michael marketing concept, around customer romantic fiction. They remind us of Porter: the only marketing guy satisfaction as the main marketing goal, bygone times: the times of hierarchic,who fits into that line is Philip Kotler, the around toolboxes and flowcharts, and rational, ordered and systematic manag-one and only King of Marketing. especially around APIC*, STP* and the ed institutions, the times of Ford and For generations of students, market- Four P´s*. In other words, around the ele- Taylor, of the assembly line and FMCG,ers, and consumers, he IS marketing. Like ments that define and bring alive the the modern times.nobody else, he stands for the “modern “Modern Marketing Approach”. We are in a new state, a new eraconcept of marketing”. He helped to But modernity has lost its glamour now characterised as post-postmodern,establish marketing’s credibility as both a and explanatory power. And so more and reflexive, liquid or hyper-modern (see fordiscipline and a practice. He spread the more scholars, academics, and even example Bauman 2000; 2005; Lipovetskycultural influence of marketing around managers claim that marketing needs 2005; Beck, Giddens & Lash 1994).the globe, and for this reason has he reform, perhaps a revolution –at least a The passage from the solid phase ofraised standards of living and created new paradigm. modern-ity to a more liquid phase ofnew jobs. We could tell a long story modernity leaves behind modernity’sabout inventing and recycling, of hopes The Frank Sinatra clearly defined borders, tiresome butand beliefs. But to make it short: he is of marketing reassuringly stable routines, slow pace ofmodern marketing’s superstar. Frank Sinatra’s time is over. He had his change, predictable futures, and long Sherwin Rosen (1981) defined super- hits and appearances, but now he’s dead. usefulness of skills – in other words:stars as phenomena wherein relatively Not only buried in the warm cover of modernity’s security! What we are seeingsmall numbers of people dominate theactivities in which they engage –andearn enormous amounts of money. That’snot only the case for athletes and movie To cope with a fast, unpredictable, and insecurestars, but also for celebrity CEOs andÜber-Academics. We, the people, weretrained to see the world through a lens world, people need the continuous presence ofcoloured by the number of ‘hits’(Anderson 2006) –and the fields ofmarketing research and education are no something familiar.exception. Everyone would agree that ourfield’s winner who “takes it all” (Abba) isthe S.C. Johnson & Son Distinguished Cathedral City’s soil, but also in people’s now is a condition in which structures,Professor of International Marketing at memories. institutions, patterns of routines, choicesthe Kellogg School of Management, The same is true for Mr Kotler. He is or acceptable behaviours can no longerNorthwestern University, Mr Philip Kotler. dead –not physically, but, following keep their shape. The results of his stardom are evident Stephen Brown as Alan Smithee (1997), It is bringing about a collapse in theto everyone interested in the marketing his thinking is dead. Like Frankie Boy, he long-term thinking, planning, and actingfield. Generations of students, academics, is celebrated and recycled– perhaps not that used to be a prerequisite for strate-managers and consultants used Kotler´s with a museum in Las Vegas, and proba- gies and strategic marketing. We are nowmodels, discussed them, applied them, bly not with a Broadway show, but with confronted with lives that are more andand distributed them. In their eyes, there lots of nostalgic fans who continue to more fragmented, with parallel strategies and series of new beginnings and end- ings, of decouplings and embeddings. And each new step, each new episode in How can you profit from our lives and our marketing calls for a different set of skills and a different post-Kotler marketing ideas? arrangement of assets (Bauman 2007, page 3). The InBev Baillet Latour Chair at Solvay Business School is committed to Stability is gone. The future is less delivering new ideas, better concepts, models and theories for the liquid predictable. The value of skills and assets economy. If you are interested in profiting from our research and efforts, changes rapidly. Modernity is over. But or in participating or sponsoring our studies, then contact me: Kotler seems to be still alive. Why is that? For those who want to learn, understand, and profit from the top ideas of The manager´s teddy bear marketing´s long tail – please apply for membership of our “European In liquid times, new concepts are Marketing & Sales Lab”: This new Solvay programme delivers the latest everywhere but APIC, the Four Ps and STP marketing thinking and concepts, and brings you together with top- will survive and live forever. Teachers, researchers and professionals. More information at consultants, and managers around the globe use Kotler´s ideas, spread Kotler’s June 2007 I Expertise from Solvay Business School I 3 7
  3. 3. Marketing world that is occupied by slow, change- plexity, but sheer volume. New concepts resistant people, who have to align both are everywhere. Some of them, like rapidity (the future), and slowness Customer Experience Management or (the past). To cope with the fast, Beautiful Corporations, may get or may unpredictable, and insecure world, peo- already have had their “season in the ple need the continuous presence of sun” (Terry Jacks). But lots are hidden in something familiar. dusty shelves, in the most obscure cor- Like a child with a teddy bear, doubt- ners of the web or in weird scientific ful and anxious managers carry the most journals. important classics as reminiscence and We could read this situation as tyran- grounding. The more our presence and ny, as the paradox of choice: lots of future seems to be the hotbed of uncer- choices, but less satisfaction. But we tainties, the more we’ll have to carry the could also read this situation as a variety past – like a teddy bear – into the future. of possibilities, where you can find the The harder it is to understand model, concept or idea that really fits markets, customers, strategies, and suc- your needs, your situation, your company, cesses, the more important seems to be brand, and products. Certainly, there’s a Mr Kotler as marketing’s most important lot crap in this “Long Tail” of marketing, teddy bear. He is the manager’s link to but also there will surely be THE one idea Christian Blümelhuber the past. that a manager could, or should, have For sure, there is only one Philip cherry-picked. • Born 1966 in Freising/Germany • Research: Brand-Management, Kotler. Many follow him –but there is When Anderson (Anderson 2006) • University of Munich: Master of Euro-Marketing, Subjective also a group that doubts. His reign is asks us to think of culture as an ocean Business Administration (1993), Communications under attack because the world has and of islands as the only features above PhD. (2000), assistant professor • Research Methods: Empirical: changed. the surface, the hit-rate over the years • Technical University Munich: qualitative and quantitative, mean that the biggest island on the Professor for Marketing (2003- 2005) interpretative research • Co-Founder of “newsports Kotler’s successors and the marketing globe is undoubtedly occupied • Solvay Business School: holder GmbH” and Innovator of two long tail* of marketing by the Kotlerians. However, islands are of the Inbev-Baillet Latour sports (SOCCAFIVE and J-TEN- In 1960, McGregor introduced Theory X just tips of vast undersea mountains. Chair for Euromarketing, pro- NIS -(now Mickeys Tennis: sold and Theory Y on the management of When (information) costs and efforts of fessor at Univerité Libre de to Disney-) employees. Whereas Theory X represent- distribution fall, it’s like the water level Bruxelles (since 2005) • Consulting for International ed an old style of management in falling in the ocean. New islands surface. • Since 2002: Assistant Director Companies, including Direkt- which employees were mindless robots, And instead of a few hits, we’ll uncover of the Center on Global brand AnlageBank, Henkel, O2, Pro- Theory Y represented a new style in hundreds of smaller, but more beautiful, Leadership, a joint platform of Sieben, Gore the Columbia University, the • Well-known Speaker at which employees are creative and accept lesser occupied, and therefore more University of Munich, Seoul Conferences (like FIFA-Football- responsibility. We could argue that it’s interesting isles. University, and the ESADE in Congress Munich 2005, several now time that marketing switched from Like our culture and economy, mar- Madrid. Brand Association Meetings) a Kotlerite Theory P (Push/Pull, 4Ps) to a keting is shifting away from a focus on a • Developer and Director of the • Inhouse-Training for companies new Theory (as for example suggested by relatively small number of hits, main- “European Marketing and Sales like DaimlerCrysler, LaBraas, Urban 2006). I don’t think that that’s the stream products, markets, and concepts Lab“. Gore, L´Oréal best answer. It’s certainly time to quit at the head of a demand curve, and Theory P, but following Lyotard’s legacy instead is moving towards a number of that posits the end of metanarratives niches in the tail. And what is true for (Lyotard 1979), there is no place for a information products like books and influences into the business world, and Grand Theory in post-post-modern times. music is surely true for the information reproduce him again and again. Although There is no single theory that could product per se: the information. some may doubt, the vast majority of replace the modern concept. There is no Marketing will get richer and more effec- managers seem to love him, follow him, clear and simple call, like “Follow Kotler tive when it applies concepts, theories or applaud him, and apply his ideas. and you will have success!” that could be ideas that really fit to a situation, a We can explain this commitment and interpreted as THE marketing credo of a brand, a culture etc. behaviour with an interesting theory of modern world. Grand ideas have lost Breaking free from Kotler, the Hit Odo Marquard, a German philosopher. credibility. Man, means more variety in marketing, His “teddy bear effect” explains the In post-post-modern, liquid, reflexive better fitting solutions, better results, familiar situation of a fast-changing economies, we not only face more com- and higher profits. A long tail can only survive when the costs of reaching the niches and finding the ideas fall dramatically. When man-The new logic seems to be quite the opposite of the agers find filters and navigators that lead them through the tail, marketing will be reborn. In a Long-Tail-Post-Kotler-Oceantraditional Kotlerian mass-marketing approach. of Marketing Ideas, marketing blogs,3 8 I Expertise from Solvay Business School I June 2007
  4. 4. Marketingmarketing journals and marketing pro-grammes like the European Marketing Experimentation is encouraged, luck is accepted,and Sales Lab can be the Santa Marias.Professors and journalists, bloggers andreal experts have to filter out the noise and inexperienced employees are welcomed toand crap and so will increase the qualityof marketing in general and –morespecifically– of the marketing concept in create weird ideas.use.Against Kotler:new topics and ideas We and our models, theories, and the P – “planning” – of course (consistentThere are hundreds of interesting ideas, concepts should accept that marketing is with the P-approach) stands out.but the few that stand out will be the becoming everyone’s role. It is no longer Everything seems to be planned, andmain islands, the hits, and the beacons of just the role of professional managerial planned: from communication to design,marketing in liquid times: a consumer’s cadres educated at top business schools from strategies to product usages. But:marketing! or graduates of expensive trainee • Had the big successes really been Perhaps the most important new programmes at Unilever or P&G. Such an planned, analysed, implemented, andcontribution to the book of “Grand idea defines marketing a societal activity controlled? Or did Post-Its, Penicillin, orMarketing Theories” (see the discussion and overcomes the implicit bias of the Viagra just happen accidentally? Didn’tabove) comes from Stephen Vargo and marketer’s perspective. they just appear, like a rainbow? Haven’tRobert Lusch (2004). They suggest noth- the companies just been lucky? Didn´ting less then a “New Dominant Logic of More flexibility – and they exploit an opportunity instead ofMarketing”, that synthesises key aspects more luck in marketing following a business plan?of actual marketing thoughts –such as management • Do consumers really use and under-resource-advantage theory and relation- Let me follow the Kotlerian path of mar- stand products, services, and brands, as itship marketing. keting-management that is marked by was planned in the marketing depart- This would-be new paradigm is so 4 P´s and directed through APIC, where ment? Hijacked brands (Wipperfürthhighly abstract and broad that it is beingdiscussed as the strongest candidate toprovide THE marketing framework of ourtime. This new logic is service-centred Marketing conceptsrather then goods-centred. It focuses on As a reference for 4Ps, APIC, and STP see any of Kotler’s Textbooks. The latest is the12th edi-operant instead of operand resources, is tion of Marketing Management, co-authored by Kevin Lane Keller (2006 published by Pearson).relational and not transactional, andinterprets the customer as a co-producer 4Ps. Marketing activities come in many forms. The most famous set of activities wasof value. Briefly, the new logic seems to established by McCarthy, who classified all tools into four groups, which are called the Four P´sbe quite the opposite of the traditional and can be interpreted as the “holy quadruplet” of a “Kotlerian Marketing” approach: product,Kotlerian mass-marketing approach, so price, place (distribution), and promotion (communication).it’s an obvious suggestion, as any class on APIC. Analysis, Planning, Implementation, and Control: these are the four steps of the (market-formal creativity will agree. ing) management process. The most important aspect and mainidea of this logic is, in my view, the STP. This stands for a core concept of modern marketing management: Segmentation,conceptualisation of the consumer as a Targeting, and Positioning. It starts with the idea that nobody likes the same hotel rooms,co-creator who takes an increasingly movies, or cookies. Therefore, marketers divide up markets into segments, identify and profileactive role in the processes of production, distinct groups of buyers, decide which segments to serve, and position the offering in themarketing and consumption. If we took minds of the target buyers (which means: deliver central benefits to that group).this idea to the next level, than we woulddiscuss a “marketing of consumers” Long Tail. The Long Tail is the colloquial name for the distribution curve where a high-frequen-–marketing that re-empowers cus- cy amplitude population is followed by a low-amplitude population. In many cases, the low-tomers, that allows them, and not just amplitude part (the Long Tail) can comprise the majority of the whole “population”. The Longthe company, to drive a market. Such Tail is seen as a business model where “products” of low volume can collectively make up amarketing goes beyond ”poll-itics” and market share that rivals or even exceeds the few hits or best-sellers in a as a toolbox for the post-, Brown, Stephen. Some would label him the Anti-Kotler. Stephen is a marketing professor ofhyper or liquid consumer. Marketing’s Ulster University and has published numerous articles that contradict and provoke “classical”role could become that of facilitating or thinking. He is “Alan Smithee” who “killed” Kotler in a European Journal of Marketing publica-co-ordinating the efforts of members of tion of 1997 titled “Kotler is dead”. He also asked managers to tease and torment theira community or tribe around a product, customers (Harvard Business Review, Oct/2001), has identified Harry Potter as an outstandingservice, or brand. That’s a co-producer, role-model of successful marketing (Brown 2005), and has promoted a “Celtic” marketingnot a provider role (see for example Firat approach.& Dholakia 2006). June 2007 I Expertise from Solvay Business School I 3 9
  5. 5. Marketing 2005), twisted servicescapes (Aubert- his co-authors, promotes unconventionalAnderson, Chris (2006). Lipovetsky, Gilles (2005). Gamet 1997), or Doppelgänger images and interesting ideas. Take serendipity,The Long Tail. London, Hypermodern Times. (Thompson, Rindfleisch & Arsel 2005) are ethics, and driving markets as examplesRandom House. Cambridge, Polity. among the concepts that explain and (Kumar, Scheer & Kotler 2000; Kotler discuss the high flexibility of customers 2006), and understand that Kotler notAubert-Gamet, Véronique Lyotard, Jean-Francois when they use products, services, and only covers and interprets the songs or(1997). “Twisting (1979). La condition post- brands, in an unintended way. concepts of the 60s, 70s, and 80s, butServicescapes: diversion of moderne. Paris, Les éditions All these aspects, flexibility, non- also drives marketing in a new direction.the physical environment in de minuit. intentional designs and even luck can of For example, he introduced the market-a re-appropriation process.” Rosen, Sherwin (1981). course (and please recognise my driving phase as a new step or orienta-International Journal of “The Economics of Superstars.” “Kotlerian loop” now:) be managed. Not tion a company can adopt towards the in an APIC way, but in a way that is more marketplace. This phase triggers industryService Industry Management The American Economy consistent with our fast-changing breakpoints, comes from a visionary (and8(1): 26-41. Review 71(5): 845-858. environment. not a planner or marketing “machine”)Bauman, Zygmunt (2000). Smithee, Alan (1997). Follow Louis Pasteur, who once said, and focuses more on potential than onLiquid Modernity. Cambridge, “Kotler is dead!” European “luck favours the prepared mind”. And try existing customers.Polity Press. Journal of Marketing 31(3/4): to understand what your customers real- Experimentation is encouraged, luckBauman, Zygmunt (2005). 317-325. ly sense, feel, think, and do. Embrace is accepted, and inexperienced employ-Liquid Life. Cambridge, Thompson, Craig, Aric qualitative, ethnographic studies. Bet on ees are welcomed to create weird ideas. several horses, not just one. Be prepared! Doesn’t that sound post-Kotler?Polity Press. Rindfleisch & Zeynep Arsel These seem to be calls for a “rational Absolutely. These attempts prove hisBauman, Zygmunt (2007). (2005). “Emotional Branding logic” for a marketing management of marketing aptitude for betting on theLiquid Times. Living in the and the Strategic Value of our times. Not convinced yet? That’s OK, right horse. And for that we praise him,Age of Uncertainty. the Doppelgänger Brand but you should be as unconvinced as you love him and follow him. Or is this allCambridge, Polity. Image.” Journal of Marketing are about the classic APIC model. only a marketing-trick in line withBeck, Ulrich, Anthony 70(Jan): 50-64. Brown’s Harry-Potter-Marketing-TralalaGiddens & Scott Lash Urban, Glen (2006). Kotler, the comeback kid! (Brown 2005)? Shouldn’t we interpret Most champions do not clear the stock these attempts as ornamental additions(1994). Reflexive Customer Advocacy. A New voluntarily, and this applies to Mr Kotler, to his modern house? Some of you willModernization: Politics, Paradigm for Marketing? too. He tried to keep up with the remember the credo of Adolf Loos, theTradition and Asethetics in Does Marketing Need Reform? Brown’s*, and presented “new” topics and modern Austrian architect and critic whothe Modern Social Order. Jagdish Sheth & Rajendra ideas that seem to fit better in post- defined “ornament as crime”. We couldCambridge, Polity. Sisodia. Armonk, New York, modern times. see Kotler´s latest articles as a crime on My feelings about this are ambiva- his original ideas, since they are hard toBrown, Stephen (2005). M.E.Sharpe: 119-125. lent. On one hand, Kotler proves his understand, even harder to follow andWizard! Harry Potter´s Brand Vargo, Stephen & Robert “bondage” to the past. Take his attempt –hardest of all for a modern Kotlerian–Magic. London, Cyan. Lusch (2004). “Evolving a to promote the idea of “holistic market- impossible to integrate into a holisticFirat, Fuat & Nikhilesh New Dominant Logic for ing”. Together with his new co-author of Kotlerian concept!Dholakia (2006). Does Marketing.” Journal of Marketing Management –Kevin LaneMarketing Need to Transcend Marketing 68(1): 1-16. Keller, another Überfather, but on Brand Thank you, Mr Kotler,Modernity? Does Marketing Venkatesh, Alladi, Lisa Management– he calls for a more and goodbye integrated marketing that embraces all Kotler is by no means dead. Kotler himselfNeed Reform? Jagdish Sheth Penaloza & Fuat Firat stakeholders and functions. This is easy is Post-Kotler. It’s his followers, the& Rajendra Sisodia. Armonk, (2006). The Market as a Sign to understand, and it sounds great. No Kotlerians, who are stuck in the past.New York, M.E.Sharpe: 126- System and the Logic of the doubt thousands of managers will follow His modern ideas live in these managers133. Market. The Service-Dominant that suggestion, because “it makes as cultural influences –his numerousKotler, Philip (2006). Ethical Logic of Marketing. Dialog, sense”. followers simply don’t write him off. So far, so good? Ah! Bad! Surely it’s But remember that we live in theLapses of Marketers. Does Debate, and Directions. Robert just another placatory sweet or poison complicated, insecure times of a “de-Marketing Need Reform? Lusch & Stephen Vargo. pill, another teddy bear for managers Americanisation of marketing thought”Jagdish Sheth & Rajendra New York/London, M.E.Sharpe: stuck in the past? Isn’t this orchestration (Venkatesh, Penaloza & Firat 2006), thatSisodia. Armonk, New York, 251-265. just another modern concept making totally differs from a pre-9/11, stableM.E.Sharpe: 153-157. Wipperfürth, Alex (2005). interesting promises that cannot be ful- modern setting. Change is not an option,Kumar, Nirmalya, Lisa Scheer Brand Hijack. Marketing filled? Doesn’t it make more sense to fol- it’s a necessity. Break free from “modern”& Philip Kotler (2000). Without Marketing. low different, parallel strategies rather Kotler. Kill this Kotler in your marketing than just one holistic one? Shouldn’t we mindset, and be more open to the Long“From Market Driven to New York, Portfolio/Penguin believe in Sperm-Strategies instead of Tail of marketing, and to ideas that fitMarket Driving.” European Group. integration? Didn’t we leave the modern today’s circumstances better. Be ready forManagement Journal 18(2): sector? Didn’t we break down that wall? the post-Kotler Kotler. Be ready for your129-142. On the other hand, Kotler, together with future. G 4 0 I Expertise from Solvay Business School I June 2007