By David Midgley, INSEAD Europe Campus, France, firstname.lastname@example.org
The relevance of academic research to marketing practitioners has been openly questioned in the literature. Do papers in leading journals provide useful frameworks, conclusions, and recommendations for marketing practitioners? Or is the gap between academia and practice simply too wide? More specifically, is academic research useful for those senior executives charged with developing strategy and delivering results for their organization — colloquially known as the C-suite — the decisionmakers who also determine the status of marketing within their organization? To answer this question, I review the strategic marketing literature to understand what we have learned over the decade from 2004 to 2014 and to assess the relevance of this learning to the Csuite. Contrary to the assertion that this literature has little to say to practitioners, I find many valuable bodies of knowledge on themes of high relevance to the C-suite, from which I draw conclusions in five important domains. These are the financial impact of marketing, digital marketing, innovation, marketing capabilities and societal concerns. While the advances in research in these domains over the decade are impressive, I conclude that where marketing as an academic discipline has to do better is communicating these insights to the highest levels of business.
Strategic Marketing for the C-Suite examines the relevance of academic research to the most senior levels of the marketing profession, the chief marketing officer (CMO), and the interests of their C-suite colleagues, particularly those of the chief executive officer (CEO) and chief financial officer (CFO). Unless academic research is relevant at the C-suite level, it is unlikely to be paid much attention lower down the organization.
Strategic Marketing for the C-Suite has three objectives: (1) to understand what we can learn from recent academic research on strategic marketing, (2) to test the validity of earlier editorial positions, and (3) to make some modest suggestions as to what the field might do better in the future. The author addresses these objectives through a review of the academic research on a set of strategic marketing issues that are of relevance to top executives.
Strategic Marketing for the C-Suite is structured in four steps. First, it examines the meaning of the phrase strategic marketing to help define the scope of the literature review and the role of the CMO in the firm, drawing on both the academic and practitioner literature. The second step identifies the key domains and associated issues that are currently relevant to the CMO and C-suite including the value of marketing to the firm, managing the new digital market space, achieving profitable growth through innovation, marketing capabilities as a source of competitive advantage, and addressing society's major concerns. The third step reviews the marketing literature relating to these five domains, and, in doing so, identifies the key research themes within each domain, and draws conclusions on these themes and overall conclusions on the domain itself. The fourth and final step summarizes what we learn from a decade's worth of research on strategic marketing, draws conclusions on the validity of earlier research, and discusses the implications for the field of academic marketing.