Eventalizing the marketing concept

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Abstract:

This paper “eventalizes” the marketing concept and in doing so will highlight the value of detailed cross-source analysis in historical research. But more than this, it will not simply call upon canonical sources in relation to debates surrounding the marketing concept for the reason that non-canonical sources – that is, periodical material or out-of-print texts that very few people have read or have acknowledged as central contributions to the field – may contain references to debates that have long been written out of the historical record and could encourage us, as marketing scholars, to adopt a more sceptical stance toward what we take for granted historically and neglect to subject to critical scrutiny. This argument is illustrated via the demonstration that marketing scholars and practitioners were well aware of the benefits that accrue from a customer orientation and were encouraged to orient their organisations in this manner by the growth in industrial production facilities stimulated by World War I. This growth meant that production output could be maintained at levels far in excess of consumer demand, thereby necessitating that organisations register and act upon consumer requirements. These themes continue to gain prominence until World War II when there was a brief return to a production orientation. At this point, business and marketing practitioners adopted a critical stance with regard to certain types of consumer research. There are multiple reasons for this. Firstly, the U.S. government became the major purchaser of industrial and consumer goods. Secondly, business practitioners were sceptical of the value of market and consumer research as a result of the failure by pollsters (who were utilising sophisticated statistical techniques) to predict the outcome of the 1948 U.S. Presidential election. Given the conflation of market research with polling research in the popular press and business community, business practitioners were unsure about the validity and usefulness of market research. In equal measure, environmental factors including rising levels of competition, employee specialisation, product diversification and organisational decentralisation would contribute to the (re)emergence of themes associated with the marketing concept.

Keywords: FOUCAULT; MARKETING CONCEPT; MARKETING MANAGEMENT; MARKETING ORIENTATION

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1362/026725709X410098

Publication date: February 1, 2009

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