Models of Marketing Strategy

In North American academic marketing the area of strategy research seems to be losing its place. One need only look at the self-declared specialities of PhD students on the job market to see that consumer behaviour (mostly psychological approaches) now dominates marketing. There is also a clear, and lucrative, place for empirical researchers who specialize in analyzing secondary data and often have strong economics backgrounds. While the skills brought into marketing from psychology and economics have much to offer it would be a shame if marketing academia’s tie to strategy faded. One way to maintain a strong tie may be to bring the formal logic of analytical models to describe the problems of marketing strategy. To ensure strategic thinking is rigorous and, critically, seen to be rigorous by managers and fellow academics.

As such I admired Sharan Jagpal’s Marketing Strategy and Uncertainty. This ambitious book uses the tools of formal economic analysis to understand marketing strategy. He starts his analysis with strategic pricing and states that: “Price is not a marketing tool when the firm operates in an industry with undifferentiated products.” (Jagpal, 1999, page 2). He is keen to note that even in undifferentiated markets there is room to compete on superior service. He then goes on to explain more differentiated markets which is important because one could say that the whole point of marketing is to ensure you do not sell undifferentiated products.

Jagpal makes a point that I am keen to emphasize to my students. “Maximizing profit and maximizing market share are inconsistent objectives” (Jagpal, 1999, page 4). Maximizing market share could theoretically be a good thing but it isn’t the same as maximizing profit. The sort of disciplined thinking that Jagpal shows, I believe, will be useful in ensuring that marketing strategy retains an important place in North American marketing academia.

Read: Sharan Jagpal (1999) Marketing Strategy and Uncertainty, Oxford University Press, New York