Marketing Issues—Challenges for Marketing in the 1980s

Stephen A. Greyser, 1980, 80-102

The advent of years ending in "0" typically is accompanied by various sets of "perspectives on the next ten years" in different fields. In keeping with this pattern, but in its own way, the Marketing Science Institute involved its Trustees in a project to identify the major "Challenges for Marketing in the 1980s."

The results of this effort are reported by MSI's Executive Director, HBS Marketing Professor Stephen A. Greyser in the accompanying reprint from the current Winter 1980 number of the Journal of Marketing, where it appears as the "Marketing Issues" feature.

Via a series of discussion groups, some forty senior marketing management and research executives in MSI's diverse group of consumer, industrial, and service member companies offered their opinions on the issues and problems they considered to be confronting marketing in the years ahead. These "macro issues" in marketing are pertinent to those both in the E essional marketing community, who must live and deal with them, and in the academic marketing community, who may find new avenues of research activity suggested by them.

The four principal broad areas of future concern seen by participating marketing executives are:

  • Improving marketing productivity.
  • Government regulation and marketing practice.
  • Effective corporate communications with a variety of constituencies.
  • Integrating marketing and strategic planning within a companywide marketing orientation.

In a separate section devoted to each major area, several subissues are developed. Within these zones, specific com meets and questions are provided for illustration and amplification. In addition, several further problems of concern to specific clusters of industries or companies were identified (see "Further Issues").

In presenting these central marketing issues for business in the 1980s, Greyser reflects MSI's, and his own, strong commitment to the articulation of such issues by practicing marketers and the stimulation of research to explore matters of pertinence to the managerial community. In his concluding comments, Greyser sees the challenges for marketing in the 80s calling for "increased effectiveness in marketing programs, increased efficiency in marketing operations, and increased responsiveness by marketing to the changing expectations of society.

Journal of Marketing Editor Jerry Wind (Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania) considered this "challenges" report to relate directly to his editorial perspective in the issue on whether "current marketing concepts, approaches, and methods are capable of dealing with the expected environmental changes." In his editorial, also reproduced here, Wind cited several of MSI's 1979 Research Publications as important indicators of a changed environment, in turn requiring "a drastic overhaul of some of our basic approaches to marketing problems."

For MSI's research program, the challenges identified for this Special Report are already serving as a stimulus. The Institute's forthcoming 1980 Research Priorities program, which aims to elicit proposals from the research community in marketing, has been substantially influenced by the issues and questions presented here.

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