When the reviewer's own Marketing: An Introductory Text was first published in 1971, it contained 16 chapters and 287 pages. It was one of only a handful of UK authorised textbooks addressing this new subject in the university curriculum. (The UK's first honours degree in marketing was introduced at Strathclyde in 1972.) How things have changed. Today business studies is the most popular subject of study in higher education, and marketing is one of its foundation subjects.
Such a large and rapidly growing market opportunity has attracted the attention of mainstream publishers, all of whom include at least one basic or introductory marketing textbook in their list.
All four of these texts are positioned to cater for newcomers to the subject and emphasise their coverage of "essentials" and "principles". However, they all claim to be suited to students and practitioners regardless of level of study, which flies somewhat in the face of a discipline that emphasises the identification of consumer needs and differentiation as two of its core principles. The claim is all the more ingenuous when one considers the scope of the texts, which range from 3 pages to 1,086 in length.
Marketing by Geoff Lancaster and Paul Reynolds is a new addition to Macmillan's Business Master series. Of the four books, this is the most basic and limited in scope, comprising 15 chapters and 3 pages. Given the background and experience of the authors, both of whom have been closely associated with the Chartered Institute of Marketing as advisers and examiners, this book would seem most appropriate to the needs of young students pursuing the institute's certificate qualification or NVQ levels. The text is easy to understand and clearly written, with numerous "activities" and checklists to encourage student-centred learning. The chapter summaries and review questions help reinforce the lessons.
Inevitably, in seeking to restrict the scope and coverage to the needs of students coming to the subject for the first time, the authors have had to be eclectic in their choice of subject matter. As a result, some subjects receive undue attention while others are ignored. For example, the discussions of sales forecasting and personal selling are extensive, while a whole chapter of 23 pages (8 per cent of the total) on public relations seems excessive. By contrast, virtually nothing is said about competition - what marketing is all about - nor services, which now comprise the largest sector of advanced economies everywhere.
References are very limited (and omit some contained in the text), and there are no explicit recommendations for further reading. There is a useful and fairly comprehensive index.
Essentials of Marketing is also written by Lancaster, in collaboration this time with Lester Massingham. Like Marketing , this book reflects the authors' experience with the Chartered Institute of Marketing, and a sticker on the cover states that it is "Essential reading for the CIM's Certificate in Marketing: Marketing Fundamentals Module ". This applies to much the same audience as Macmillan's offering.
If the scope of Essentials is very similar to that of Marketing , the treatment is rather more sophisticated and much better referenced. The main distinguishing feature is that Essentials contains more than 100 pages (about 20 per cent) of material relating to case studies - a form of assessment widely used in business studies courses to gauge the students' ability to apply their knowledge in a holistic and integrated way to the solution of a specific problem or issue. This is a valuable feature of Essentials , which should be recommended reading for any student following a course of instruction and/or examination based on case analysis. The authors' expertise and experience is apparent and adds substantially to what otherwise is a fairly standard introductory text.
In the third edition, the authors have updated the content, but the coverage of branding, competition, customer care, relationship marketing and services - to mention but a few - is superficial and does not reflect the growing importance of these topics in the modern marketing curriculum.
Principles of Marketing by Frances Brassington and Stephen Pettit might easily be mistaken for a standard US textbook - more than 1,000 pages, weighing in at 2.8 kg, with full colour throughout and a beautifully designed layout - as might David Jobber's Principles and Practice of Marketing , 711 pages in extent, which weighs in at 1.6 kg, and also has full colour. But the similarities with the Brassington and Pettit book go significantly beyond their packaging.
Like Brassington and Pettit, Jobber's objective is to synthesise theory and practice and provide a broad overview of the marketing discipline for those with limited experience of it. Both books provide clear learning objectives for each chapter, make extensive use of vignettes to exemplify application and practice; take an international, largely European, perspective, are extensively referenced; and make wide use of case studies to reinforce learning and provide a basis for class discussion. Both are well written and have glossaries and effective indexes. So how do they differ?
The main difference between the two books is that Brassington and Pettit's scope and coverage is wider, more detailed and more up-to-date than Jobber. While both books discuss competition, direct marketing and the marketing of services, largely ignored in the first two books reviewed, Brassington and Pettit go further by including chapters on "Marketing and the smaller business" and "Current perspectives in marketing" based on the views of senior practitioners. While both books are worthy rivals to the Europeanised versions of the major US texts, on balance my vote would go for Brassington and Pettit with Jobber highly commended.
Finally, all the books reviewed conform to the prescriptive "what to do" model and give less attention to the theoretical insights derived from other social sciences that underpin the relatively new synthetic discipline of marketing. While this approach clearly appeals to the mass market, students wishing to pursue their studies in more depth may well appreciate texts that recognise that marketing is not a cut-and-dried subject but one that is dynamic, full of controversy and short on providing answers to the question why? For them a more challenging menu would be more appropriate.
Michael J. Baker is professor of marketing, University of Strathclyde.
Author - David Jobber
ISBN - 0 07 709435 2
Publisher - McGraw-Hill
Price - £23.99
Pages - 711