Buzz, sizzle and walk the walk

Foundations of Marketing. First edition - Marketing - Contemporary Strategic Marketing. First edition - Marketing Management - Retail Marketing - Business-to-Business Marketing. First edition - eMarketing eXcellence. First edition
February 27, 2004

Building marketing knowledge could be viewed as a three-stage process. The first stage consists of the marketing novice's gaining basic training through foundation texts. In the second phase, strategic marketing knowledge is acquired and, finally, the student can pursue particular areas of enthusiasm. At the end, the student should have a robust understanding that can be maintained and extended. Stimulating introductory texts provide a firm foundation for the specialist marketer or the all-round business student.

David Jobber and John Fahy state that the audience for their Foundations of Marketing is the marketing initiate, and they claim to concentrate on the core foundations of marketing. Jobber has a proven formula of success with his use of vignettes and cases in previous publications. There are features on diverse topics such as Yahoo! and professional services.

The book is well presented, with skilful use of colour and photographs to support the theory and examples. It is a little disappointing to see one of the three sections dedicated to "Marketing mix decisions" when the mix has attracted so much criticism.

The tactical and operational aspects of marketing, which overly engage so many students, could perhaps have been approached from a more contemporary angle to reflect current debate. Services are insufficiently dealt with (barely two pages), thus failing to give a realistic picture of the balance of today's marketing activity. But the premise on which the text is constructed is sound, and it provides solid marketing foundations, although some core material does not reflect current thought. The book is accompanied by an online learning centre with resources for lecturers and students.

David Stokes' unassuming book, still in the foundation or generalist category, is in danger of being overlooked. Its undistinguished title and fairly standard contents do not set it apart from other offerings. However, Stokes wisely draws the reader's attention to the action-learning style that underpins his book, which will greatly assist the distance learner. Case studies are used as part of the action-learning style, but they are written in rather a repetitive format and are generally directed at UK markets. The chapter devoted to strategy is not very clearly set out and might confuse the reader. Within its 400 or so pages, however, the author gives a valuable overview of traditional marketing that is made more interesting by his specialism in entrepreneurial marketing.

Having acquired the basics, the student can move to more advanced marketing. Ross Brennan and his colleagues have produced a strategic marketing book that promises new perspectives at strategic levels of the discipline, but the reader is going to be a little disappointed. The chapter contents headings are conventional and reiterate accepted models, for example Michael Porter's generic competitive strategies, with little adaptation or addition to reflect present-day conditions. While there is a need for good strategic marketing texts that capture up-to-date activities, this book unfortunately does not fulfil it.

The eye is, however, caught by chapter 11 on mass-mediated services, which is clearly the interest of one of the contributors. This single chapter fits the "contemporary" label of the title and is more heavily referenced than other chapters. The cases in the book cover business-to-business, consumer, international and services marketing, giving the reader an appreciation of the scope of strategic marketing.

But the intended audience for this text is unclear. If it is for undergraduates, then generally there are insufficient references to extend student reading. It has potential for postgraduate courses, but only in conjunction with other texts that would underpin the book's strategic theme. An accompanying website offers additional material.

Just when one feels that relationship marketing has had its day, it pops up once more to qualify Svend Hollensen's text on marketing management. Do not be deterred, as this book has some real benefits. Much of the recent debate in marketing on classical and relational interpretations is reflected; the author's premise being that there has been a paradigm shift in marketing, which he justifies by pointing to an emphasis on cooperation and interdependence instead of competition and conflict. The book's strength is that it includes traditional material but adds a new dimension, competitive analysis, for example, located in a chapter on relationships and the value chain.

The author discusses ethical marketing from a relational perspective, but it is heartening to see this subject discussed at all, when so many texts neglect it. He includes managers as potential readers in his introduction, but the book's appearance and scope suggest a student readership at advanced undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

Supplementary material is provided for lecturers to download. This is a comprehensive textbook, which has the strength of generating new perspectives on standard models by adopting a relationship approach, as it says on the cover.

Specialist contributions to marketing cover three areas. The first is the much-awaited second edition of Peter McGoldrick's Retail Marketing . In the introduction, the author says that the book is intended for "serious students" of retailing, and the scope and depth of the book do not belie this statement - the references are extensive. The style is accessible and interesting, the reader immediately engaged even in potentially less-enticing sections such as store location.

The author's creation of schema to assist in student understanding is well illustrated by the figure on page ten, which shows the scope of marketing and its integration into the functional aspects of retailing. This book is comprehensive and reflects a lengthy yet up-to-date expertise in retailing. Consumer behaviour is extensively addressed, including recent investigations into risk, trust and value.

Since marketing is primarily concerned with creating enduring customer satisfaction, it is surprising to note that service quality and satisfaction are somewhat lightly treated. Although many examples of retailing are covered, services are, perhaps, underrepresented. Supplementary resources can be accessed via an online learning centre.

The second example of specialist marketing is Daniel Michel et al 's book. It begins with a chapter on competitiveness, marketing and business-to-business marketing, where the book's rationale is firmly established - that is to say, businesses relating efficiently to their markets. The structure of the book is helpful not only in orienting the reader but also in providing a clear outline of its conceptual approach. This is particularly valuable, as many students struggle with the relationship between strategic development and its implementation.

Extensive referencing suggests that the text is dedicated to more advanced students at either undergraduate or postgraduate level. The presentation of the figures is a little uninspiring and would have been enhanced by the use of colour. It is somewhat mystifying to find that the internet is consigned to an "annex", considering the amount of business-to-business activity that takes place there. If, as the authors argue, new technology in the form of electronic marketplaces will modify the balance of power between competitors, then surely this debate should take place in the main body of the text?

Finally, we come to a practitioner-oriented text by P. R. Smith and Dave Chaffey that deals with e-marketing. Its readership is diverse, according to the authors, and forms part of the CIM professional series. Any reservations on the part of the reader regarding e-marketing and its relationship to marketing are overwhelmed by the authors' enthusiasm and knowledge. The section on interactive kiosks, where the authors offer a model along the lines of sell, serve, speak, save and sizzle, is absorbing.

The book is full of buzzwords that verge on "hype", but the tone engages the reader, and undergraduates, in particular, would respond to this book. It is quite different, both in tone and content, from the other books reviewed and offers an up-to-date and non-academic perspective on a current and topical aspect of marketing. Ironically, this text has no accompanying website for supplementary material.

Jillian Dawes Farquhar is reader in marketing, Oxford Brookes University.

 

Foundations of Marketing. First edition

Author - David Jobber and John Fahy
Publisher - McGraw-Hill
Pages - 355
Price - £29.99
ISBN - 0 07 709866 8

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