The Gap Between the Vision for Marketing and Reality

Adapted from

A  recent  article  written  by Philip Kotler, the marketing guru on  September 18, 2012, reveals  how far marketing has come and where there is room to grow.

For more than 60 years, marketers have had a clear vision of the ideal role of marketing, which consists of two core ideas. One is the concept of the “marketing mix,” which dates to the late 1940s. Harvard’s Neil Borden, when becoming  the  president of the American Marketing Association, realized there was no set formula for successful marketing. Instead, the marketer must choose the best mix from the set of all possible mixes. Jerome  McCarthy later codified the mix in the classic 4Ps of marketing — product, price, place and promotion. The task of the marketing executive is to    control  or  to  influence on  all of the 4Ps  then  blend them to produce the best value.

The second fundamental idea is that marketing decisions should be based on a solid understanding  of target customers and other stakeholders.   These two core components — control of the marketing mix and customer oriented   which is then elaborated  as  STP  (Segmenting, Targetting and Positioning) — are fundamental to the field’s shared vision of marketing.  The question now : how   is this classic concept  viewed  by  the marketing practitioners?

To answer this question, we turned to the IBM 2011 Global CMO Study   interviewing more than 1,700 CMOs (Chief Marketing Officers)  from 64 countries and 19 industries. CMOs were asked to rate how much influence they have over each of the 4Ps. They rated their influence on a scale ranging from 1, “No influence,” to 5, “Full control.” CMOs were also asked to what extent their marketing organization captures, analyzes and acts on customer data.  The results reveal that on average CMOs rate themselves and their companies at the 3.5 level on the Full-Scale Marketing Index — distinctly below the top mark. The CMO survey provides insights into the reasons for this gap.


CMOs rate themselves and their companies most highly on the  promotion part of the marketing mix. On average they give themselves a 4.2, and at least 25% of companies indicate they have “full control” over promotion. That assessment is not surprising. Promotion has a natural link to marketing as an organizational function.

Control of the product element of the mix is rated next most highly at 3.5, followed by use of data at 3.4. Control over place gets a 3.2, and control over price a 3.1. At least 25% of companies score 2 or lower when it comes to controlling price, and the bottom quartile for place is 2.6 or lower. Clearly, the vision that marketers control aspects of decision-making beyond promotion has not been fully realized.

Do some companies not compliant to the marketing vision because they have embraced new technologies such as online marketing and social media? The researchers  checked whether there were differences of this kind in the companies surveyed. It turns out that organizations with high control over the 4Ps and data use are also the most forward-looking — with greater intentions to increase use of newer tactics such as tablet and mobile applications, social media, e-mail marketing and predictive analytics. Companies that have mastered traditional marketing tend to be the ones embracing the new forms.

Thus, marketing from time to time remains the same, only the difference is in  its emphasis  and type of media used depending on target market to  reach.

Marketing Mix’s Jerome McCarthy and Segmenting- Targeting-Positioning’s Phillips  Kotler still  maintain  the legacy in marketing world even in the era of technology  advancement.

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