Professor of Marketing interview: We speak to Adrian Palmer from Henley Business School at Reading University in the latest of Press Gazette’s Marketing Maestro interviews. This series is produced in association with Lead Monitor, New Statesman Media Group’s content marketing arm.
What’s been your proudest achievement in your current role?
As a British author successfully publishing a book on Services Marketing in the USA at a time when Britain was seen as a laggard in services and the USA an exemplar.
What are the longest-lasting tenets of marketing that have remained constant?
Combine disciplined thinking with creativity. If data is available, use it in your analysis unless you can put forward a good argument for ignoring it. Using data and creative interpretation, always update your understanding of the big picture of factors that are influencing your marketing decisions.
Have you seen the types of people entering marketing change dramatically?
This is a complex question to answer. The nature of marketing jobs has changed over the last couple of decades, with a growth in outsourced and diverse agency work, often requiring diverse and specific technical skills. The structure of the available workforce has also changed over this time, so marketing faces a workforce with changing capabilities and expectations. A widening income gap has resulted in a pool of low-cost labour for basic fulfilment jobs, while incentives and the ability to measure individual performance have attracted skilled, goal-oriented individuals to the sector.
How important is technology in modern marketing?
Very important. The opportunities for effective marketing without technology are rarer, especially for managing information about markets, supply chains and end-users. Technology has a strategic role in developing and monitoring marketing planning, and a tactical role in implementing it. However, technology does not supplant underlying principles of marketing. For example, social media campaigns use principles of identity and affiliation, well known to social anthropologists since long before modern technology.
In your opinion, what is the main difference between B2C and B2B marketing?
B2B still tends to be dominated by rational, cognitive evaluations in which decision-making processes can be complex. It can be difficult to identify the key actors and influencers. B2C tends to have a greater affective component in buyers’ evaluations, and for any given product category, typically involves simpler and quicker decision processes. However, the difference between B2B and B2C is diminishing. Internet platforms in particular have facilitated SMEs and individuals to engage in small-scale trading activities which bridge B2B and B2C.
What future marketing trends will become mainstream before too long?
We should be watching attitudes towards minimalist consumption, the sharing economy and self-production of food, goods and services. Societies have always had sub-cultures who seek value in life from downshifting their economic and consumption activities. ‘Climate shaming’, continuing pressure on natural resources, and an underlying need for creativity revealed during lockdowns are forces which may coalesce to reinforce these trends. A prolonged and deep recession may be a catalyst which brings these together and transforms a niche set of attitudes to mainstream.
And finally, what are the best ways for brands and organisations to establish loyalty among consumers?
It depends how you define loyalty. One way to establish behavioural loyalty is to have a long-term vision and strategy to dominate a market through growth, acquisition and product range design, to the point where buyers have little real choice.
However, this strategy must avoid making it too attractive and easy for potential competitors to enter the market, and must avoid regulatory intervention. Otherwise, if loyalty is understood as an attitude to a brand, this is best achieved by facilitating customers to identify with the brand’s values, purpose and benefits. These should be sharable with peers and consistently applied over time.
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