Marketing mix

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MANAGEMENT DECISION 32,2

Has today’s dominant marketing mix paradigm become a strait-jacket? A relationship building and management approach may be the answer.

From Marketing Mix to Relationship Marketing:
Towards a Paradigm Shift in Marketing
Christian Grönroos

approach to marketing which eventually has entered the marketing literature[2, 4-14]. A paradigm shift is clearly underway. In services marketing, especially in Europe and Australia but to some extent also in North America, and in industrial marketing, especially in Europe, this paradigm shift has already taken place. Books published on services marketing[15-17] and on industrial marketing[18-20] as well as major research reports published are based on the relationship marketing paradigm. A major shift in theperception of the fundamentals of marketing is taking place. The shift is so dramatic that it can, no doubt, be described as a paradigm shift[21]. Marketing researchers have been passionately convinced about the paradigmatic nature of marketing mix management and the Four P model[22]. To challenge marketing mix management as the basic foundation for all marketing thinking has been as heretic as it wasfor Copernicus to proclaim that the earth moved[23, 24]. The purpose of this report is to discuss the nature and consequences of the dominating marketing paradigm of today, marketing mix management of the managerial school (cf.[25] and how evolving trends in business and modern research into, for example, industrial marketing, services marketing and customer relationship economics demand arelationship-oriented approach to marketing. Relationship building and management are found to be an underlying facet in the research into these areas. Relationship marketing is suggested as one new marketing paradigm, and a number of consequences for marketing and management of a relationship-type marketing strategy is discussed based on the notion of a marketing strategy continuum. Finally, thepossibility of building a general theory of marketing based on the relationship approach is examined. A further discussion of the nature of the relationship marketing paradigm is, however, beyond the scope of this report.

Management Decision, Vol. 32 No. 2, 1994, pp. 4-20 © MCB University Press Limited, 0025-1747

The marketing mix management paradigm has dominated marketing thought, research andpractice since it was introduced almost 40 years ago. Today, this paradigm is beginning to lose its position[1-3]. New approaches have been emerging in marketing research. The globalization of business and the evolving recognition of the importance of customer retention and market economies and of customer relationship economics, among other trends, reinforce the change in mainstream marketing.Relationship building and management, or what has been labelled relationship marketing, is one leading new

Marketing Mix and the Four Ps
Marketing the way most textbooks treat it today was introduced around 1960. The concept of the marketing mix and the Four Ps of marketing – product, price, place and promotion – entered the marketing textbooks at that time[26]. Quickly they also became treatedas the unchallenged basic model of marketing, so totally overpowering previous models and approaches, such as, for example, the organic functionalist approach advocated by Wroe Alderson[27,28] as well as other systems-oriented approaches (e.g.[29,30]) and parameter theory developed by the Copenhagen School in Europe (e.g.[31,32]) that these are hardly remembered, even with a footnote in mosttextbooks of today. Earlier approaches, such as the commodity (e.g.[33]), functional (e.g.[34]), geography-related regional (e.g.[35]) and institutional

This article is based on an invited paper presented at the 1st International Colloquium in Relationship Marketing, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, 1-3 August, 1993.

FROM MARKETING MIX TO RELATIONSHIP MARKETING: TOWARDS A PARADIGM SHIFT...
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