Article Review: “Marketing Logics for Competitive Advantage?” written by Tollin, K & R. Jones, published in European Journal of Marketing
On the basis of fifteen personal semi-structured in-depth interviews, the authors discover the logic of marketing management of corporate marketing executives with a view to determining how such logic can enhance or hamper the formulation of marketing strategy. The results of the study indicate that marketing executives are guided by four main logics, i.e. performance (focus on corporate brand performance figures and measurements), communication (selecting messages to be sent about a brand or product), stakeholder (public relations and meaningful interaction with governmental institutions, employees and employers organizations) and innovation (radical product innovation as the main priority). Within these logics, managers’ orientations were classified as responsive vs. proactive and supporting vs. controlling. Grounded theory methodology was used for data interpretation.
The article proceeds with exploring the effects of these logics on the firm’s ability to develop its core capabilities. It argues that using only the aforementioned four logics, especially within responsive orientation, can blind executives to changes in the environment. Marketing activity in the firms in the sample was often driven by preservation strategy. Internally, preservation strategy means developing and using existing knowledge and resources rather than acquiring new knowledge and access to new resources. Externally, such a strategy implies aligning the company to competitors through marketing performance measurement and benchmarking. An alternative to such preservation strategy is exploration strategy that translates into more effective marketing.
The strength of the article is that it clearly justifies why such research should have been carried out (i.e. the changing perception of marketing as an activity in the minds of executives) and is well-grounded in literature. Another distinctive feature of the article is its interdisciplinary approach – the research spans the fields of both marketing and psychology. The article innovativeness is also manifested in its focus on the individual executive and decision-making rather than organization-wide formal structures or process. It has some helpful visual aids, such as the graph representing an executive’s information interpretation system or a scheme representing management logics and capabilities. It also differentiates results according to the service sector in which a company operates, such as financial services, telecommunications, and pharmaceuticals.
The limitation of this research is its very small sample. The authors themselves acknowledge that it should be perceived as a pilot study and as a basis for further qualitative research. Another weakness of the article is that no practical implications are outlined. Although the authors identify responsive orientation and preservation strategy as problem in executives’ thinking, little detail is given about how exploration strategy can be effectively implemented and what tangible benefits it will bring. The research can be classified as a more anthropological or sociological study of mental models that managers use in the process of decision-making. Therefore, it is hard to give a definitive answer about the article’s contribution to the filed. From the perspective of the theory of marketing and management, it is an interesting and useful study, yet it has little practical value for marketing executives in their day-to-day work.
- Tollin, K & R. Jones (2009). “Marketing logics for competitive advantage?” European Journal of Marketing 43(3/4), pp. 523-550.