OPINION: Marketing Society - Why marketing has to relaunch itself to survive

That it may be time to sound the death knell for marketing may seem an odd concept for someone who has dedicated most of his working life to marketing, but who received his training in the 60s and 70s.

That it may be time to sound the death knell for marketing may seem an odd concept for someone who has dedicated most of his working life to marketing, but who received his training in the 60s and 70s.

I remember TV campaigns that cost pounds 600,000 for 600 national TVRs on the only available commercial channel; sales teams across the country calling on individual stores, persuading store managers to give them an end gondola display for a pittance of an incentive; merchandising teams calling on accounts, bringing stock from the warehouse and placing it in prime on-shelf positions.

In the 70s and 80s the manufacturer was king. The retailer was simply a means to get the product to the consumer. Consumers were easily led - if the product appeared on television they would buy it. If it delivered and was reasonably priced they would return. If not, they would move on.

It was easy to grow brands and the mass of marketing directors at the time saw the next step on their career path as managing director.

Education centred on Kotler, the guru of marketing. His works, coupled with a basic knowledge of the product life cycle, Oxenfeldt's approach to pricing and Maslow's hierarchy of needs, and a university degree meant you were equipped for marketing.

Where is marketing today? We are confused as to whether we are marketers or marketeers. We see an increasing number of firms with no marketing representation on the main board, and the position of marketing director is no longer the fast track to managing director.

Why is this? Quite simply marketing has failed too many companies. The profession has not kept pace with changes within the marketplace. It has failed to deliver and take account of returns on the investment companies have put behind marketing.

The retailers are now brands in their own right. They have taken control, quite rightly, of their supply chain, their stocks, and their image with their customers.

The end consumers have changed. They are more educated and have more choice. They have countless specialised media open to them. They shop differently, they buy differently, and they become bored quickly.

Marketing as we have known it over the past 30 to 40 years is finished.

We are tarnished by the shortfalls of our predecessors who continued to apply in the 80s and 90s the formulas that worked in the 60s and 70s.

Look how our colleagues have relaunched themselves. Salesmen are now business managers. Dispatch and transport departments have now become logistics and distribution. The accounts department has become finance. And what of marketing? Nothing has changed.

We need to relaunch as a profession of the 21st century. We have to be up to date, not only with consumer shifts, but also with retail and channel shifts. And we need to be more accountable for the resources we utilise.

We need a term to take us forward, to relieve us of the baggage of the 80s and 90s, to give us the credence to rise from the ashes and become the driving force within business in the 21st century. The first step is to accept that we have to kill off marketing!

Steve Duncan is director of brand marketing at Fort James UK and a member of The Marketing Society.


Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now


John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers
Ex-M&S marketing chief Steven Sharp consulting at WPP
Wolff Olins reveals new CEO after Apple poaches Karl Heiselman
Glasgow offers £30,000 prize to best digital idea for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Google's revenues surge but shares drop as it grapples with transition to mobile
Facebook beats Twitter to most 'marketing friendly' social media site crown, says DMA
Fableists believe children like Finn should be outdoors enjoying life
Homebase, Baileys and Camelot join the line-up at Media360
MasterCard renews Rugby World Cup sponsorship to push cashless message
Lynx unleashes £9m 'Peace invasion' campaign
Social Brands 100 Youth: Pizza Hut most social youth brand in UK
Cheryl Cole is wild and arresting in new L'Oreal work
Morrisons told not to show alcohol ads during YouTube nursery rhymes
O2 head of brand Shadi Halliwell departs after 23 years at company in restructure
Tesco hit by further sales decline as it turns to digital Clubcard and social network
Branding guru Wally Olins dies aged 83
Duracell short film captures epic Transatlantic voyage
Ash runs Tinder experiment to show smokers are less desirable to opposite sex
British Airways teams up with Gerry Cottle Jnr for summer of rooftop film screenings
Arklu says 'girls can be superheroes too' with doll design competition
Coke enters squash market with Oasis Mighty Drops
Virgin Galactic signs up Land Rover as space flight sponsor
Motorola marketer Andrew Morley departs as Google gears up for sale to Lenovo
US Airways apologises after tweeting obscene image at a customer