MARKETING IN THE 21ST CENTURY
Implementation Strategies in the Market-Driven Strategy Era
David W. Cravens
Texas Christian University
The very insightful analysis of marketing strategy implementation by Piercy (1998 [this issue]) points to several key issues concerning the role of marketing in the 21st century. Perhaps most compelling is his assessment of the potential threats to the role of marketing in the organization and implementation in particular. He examines several important concerns presented by the lean enterprise paradigm (Womack and Jones 1996). While I am more optimistic about the future of the discipline, relevant dimensions of change promise to significantly alter the nature and scope of marketing strategy and its implementation. Business strategy has entered a new market and competitive environment, appropriately designated as the market-driven era because of its central focus on the market as the basis for strategy design and implementation (Cravens, Greenley, Piercy, and Slater 1998; Day 1994). A pervasive dimension of this era is the pivotal role of the market in guiding strategic change. While the paradigms based on the market-driven era continue to evolve, it is apparent that markets provide the focus of strategic thought and practice. This focus offers an array of challenges and opportunities to the marketing discipline. Many academics and executives are examining the fundamental assumptions and guidelines underlying strategy formulation. An extensive array of strategy paradigms is proposed to assist executives in strategy design. While no paradigm dominates strategic thought and practice, there are several key characteristics shared by the various views of strategy. The characteristics of market-driven strategies include (1) developing a shared vision about the market and how it is expected to change in the future; Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science. Volume 26, No. 3, pages 237-241. Copyright 9 1998 by Academy of Marketing Science.
(2) selecting avenues for delivering superior value to customers; (3) positioning the organization and its brands in the marketplace using distinctive competencies; (4) recognizing the potential value of collaborative relationships with customers, suppliers, distribution channel members, internal functions, and even competitors; and (5) reinventing organizational designs to implement and manage future strategies (Cravens, Greenley, Piercy, and Slater 1997). Each of these dimensions of market-driven strategy creates important implementation issues and challenges. An extensive analysis of the impact of the market-driven era on implementation is not feasible in this commentary. Instead, I have selected four topics that are particularly relevant to strategy implementation: (1) shifting from a marketing to market-driven strategic perspective, (2) leveraging modularity to facilitate implementation, (3) recognizing the new economics of information, and (4) adopting new concepts of strategic performance measurement.
IMPLICATIONS OF THE MARKET-DRIVEN PERSPECTIVE
As acknowledged by Piercy (1998), the 21st century is likely to present the marketing profession with major opportunities and threats that have important implications for strategy implementation. The role as well as the relevance of marketing is being debated by both scholars and business executives. Some forecast a declining role, while others see new opportunities as the market is increasingly recognized as the starting point in strategy formulation.
Shifting From Functions to Processes
One marketing thought leader forecasts "a future in which marketing as a functional area and academic disci-
238 JOURNAL THEACADEMYOF MARKETINGSCIENCE OF pline will have diminished influence" (Day 1994). A study by the London branch of Coopers & Lybrand reports that "marketing as a discipline is more vital than ever" but the marketing department is "critically ill" ("Death of the Brand Manager"...
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