The establishment of a business school at Oxford and the appearance of textbooks from the OUP must surely signal that management has come of age as an academic subject in the United Kingdom. In a 2000 analysis of applications from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, business and management came top. Thus approximately 300,000 students were likely to have access to an introductory course in marketing. This is the audience at which these two books are targeted.
Many rivals have been reviewed in these pages and range from the all-American offerings to "Europeanised" versions and occasional British textbook with an original approach. Adrian Palmer's text is positioned to meet the needs of students taking an introductory course. According to the author: "This book tries not to present prescriptive solutions to marketing problems, but encourages debate about causes and effects." Well, maybe. The reader will find few direct references to the original sources of the ideas and concepts that are discussed and even fewer alternative hypotheses that challenge or elaborate on them. That said, the book provides broad coverage of all the key topics, supported by appropriate and current examples. It is written in straightforward English and should be easily accessible to less experienced students. The author also provides numerous aids to learning through the provision of explicit chapter objectives, summaries, case studies, review questions and suggestions for further reading.
The structure of the book differs from similar texts. "Segmentation and targeting" and "Developing a brand", for example, come before treatment of "Buyer behaviour". On the basis that the essence of marketing is the exercise of choice related to consumption decisions, my own preference is to address the economic, psychological and sociological influences on such choice behaviour before examining how marketers can use this knowledge to their advantage. But Palmer's approach may appeal to some. The inclusion of listings of relevant websites and the companion website will also be popular.
Keith Blois's text represents a different approach, in that different experts have written the chapters, which are organised into five sections: customers, markets and marketing; understanding and assessing buyer behaviour; the product offering; formulating and implementing marketing strategy; and issues in implementing marketing strategies.
Blois and his contributors provide the materials for more mature students and tutors to construct courses of their own devising. In addition, this book will appeal to those wishing to bone up on a specific topic. The chapters are well integrated, and each has recommendations for further reading and discussion questions. Other noteworthy features are a glossary, excellent references and a comprehensive index. Of its kind this is a useful book and well worth consulting.
Michael J. Baker is emeritus professor of marketing, University of Strathclyde.
The Oxford Textbook of Marketing. First edition
Editor - Keith Blois
ISBN - 0 19 877576 8
Publisher - Oxford University Press
Price - £.99
Pages - 658