Marketing Theory: Find a New Roadmap for Marketing

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Marketing Theory
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On defining marketing: finding a new roadmap for marketing
Christian Grönroos
Marketing Theory 2006; 6; 395
DOI: 10.1177/1470593106069930
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http://mtq.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/6/4/395

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DOI: 10.1177/1470593106069930

article

On defining marketing: finding a new
roadmap for marketing
Christian Grönroos
Hanken Swedish School of Economics, Finland

Abstract. The American Marketing Association has updated its marketing definition and included value for customers and customer relationships in the new definition. Moreover, marketing is defined as one organizational function. Taking mainly service and relationship marketing research as a starting point, this present article broadens the discussion to a generic marketing level, and analyses the underpinning logic of the updated definition. It concludes that the use of these elements of the definition is not well founded in current research. Also, it shows that marketing cannot be treated as one organizational function only. Drawing on the analysis of the updated definition, a set of propositions regarding the scope and content of a marketing definition are developed. Finally, based on the analysis and this set of propositions, an alternative marketing definition, based on the promise concept, and labelled a promises management definition, is suggested and its implications for marketing research and practice are discussed. Key Words marketing definition marketing theory





Defining marketing in a changing world
During the last 25 years marketing as a phenomenon has changed. Following this change new marketing fields such as service marketing, relationship marketing and network-based business-to-business marketing (the IMP approach) have emerged alongside consumer goods-oriented marketing. Traditionally exchange is considered the central concept in marketing (Bagozzi, 1975; Hunt, 1976). In these more recent approaches it has been suggested that exchanges, although still important of course, are facilitated through interactions between suppliers and customers, and hence interaction becomes a central marketing concept (Grönroos, 1990; Gummesson, 1987; Håkansson, 1982). For example, interactions make coproduction (Prahalad and Ramaswamy, 2004) and co-creation of value (Normann and Ramirez, 1993) possible. Also the value-in-use notion in customers’ value

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marketing theory 6(4)
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creation, which is growing in importance in the marketing literature (Vargo and Lusch, 2004), demands a focus on customers’ interactions with, for example, physical goods, services, technology and information.

At the same time as new marketing fields have emerged the influence of marketing on top management has been declining and the voice of the customer has become less important for corporate decision making. Marketing seems to be losing its credibility and the marketing function is in decline (see, for example, Webster et al., 2005). Of course this does not go for all firms in all countries, but it does look like a trend. In a growing number of firms marketing professionals seem to be less represented on the board of...
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