Marketing: Real People, Real Choices

Planning with a peppering of practical pizzazz

February 28, 2008

A fundamental problem with marketing as an academic discipline is the lack of theory development. Marketing is viewed by students as a vocational subject, and while outside forces such as the internet and mobile technology have impacted hugely on how we do marketing, as a discipline it has developed little over the past 50 years.

Writers of textbooks, therefore, have a difficult job creating something innovative or at least novel, but clearly this is what has been attempted by Michael Solomon, Greg Marshall and Elnora Stuart in Marketing: Real People, Real Choices. While the book covers the usual marketing topics from a value proposition perspective, its unique approach is the presentation at the beginning of each chapter of vignettes highlighting a dilemma faced by a marketer in a real company. Numbered options are offered to the reader, and later in the chapter students and professors choose their preferred option before the marketer's actual choice is presented.

These practical elements sandwich the theoretical chapter where students gain the knowledge that will enable them to answer the dilemma. In addition, there are one- or two-page case studies ideal for short class sessions dealing with companies, such as Facebook and Ikea, that are known to most students worldwide.

The book is also very strong on marketing planning and metrics with three appendices that outline how to implement a marketing plan, an example of a plan, followed by some detailed marketing maths. The tone of the book is very chatty and engaging but with a heavily US-centric approach. Examples, advertisements and exercises are all US focused, and this has to be a book primarily for that market.

This text tries to engage the introductory-level student and instructor and offers a range of interesting supplements including test items and PowerPoint slides. It also offers students the opportunity of branding themselves in the job market through a number of job-oriented questions and the offer of a supporting Brand You supplement. Herein lies the book's biggest weakness: it tries to fulfil a number of roles and at times the academic content of the marketing discipline gets lost. For this reason, this may be a book best suited to courses where marketing is an ancillary subject and where the practical application of marketing techniques is of most importance.

References are largely to websites and US magazines and business journals, which again underlines the practical bent of the text. This is not to say that the book does not cover the range of introductory subjects well, but the additional elements make it quite dense and may detract from getting the basics of marketing across.

Who is it for? Introductory undergraduate marketing or other business-related courses.

Presentation: Rather a lot of peripheral clutter, but mostly clear.

Would you recommend it? No, it is just not focused enough as a textbook on the core elements of the marketing discipline.

Marketing: Real People, Real Choices

Authors: Michael Solomon, Greg Marshall and Elnora Stuart
Edition: Fifth
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Pages: 640
Price: £44.99
ISBN 9780131579101

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