The American Marketing Association
(AMA), Decision Strategies International
, a global consultancy specializing in scenario planning, and a group of marketing leaders from industry and academics recently completed a project
on the role of marketing in 2015 – Future of Marketing in 2015 – an American Marketing Association Special Report.
After nearly a year of secondary research, a survey of business and consumer marketers, and workshops with marketing leaders, the AMA developed four possible future states in 2015 and their potential impact on marketing in the organization. These scenarios are presented below. For each scenario, the project also created thumbnail sketches of key goals and objectives of professionals operating in each scenario.
The four scenarios and the CMO archetypes for each scenario follow:
While the effort of the AMA to peer into the future is laudable, I am personally very troubled by the output, and the lack of emphasis on some fundamental game-changing trends like customer collaboration, value co-creation, customization, and open systems thinking.
A useful tactic in evaluating the output of a future oriented undertaking is to study the inputs used. The report states that the scenario building process began with an identification of forces that might shape the role of marketing between now and 2015. The key issues and trends identified were:
- Shrinking world, expanding relationships – increase in globalization and technology integration
- Rise of new class, BRIC by BRIC – creation of new consumer markets
- Innovation or Invasion – push back due to micro-profiling and and behavioral targeting
- Command and Control becomes Cultivate and Create – two way conversations providing valuable information for new products/services offerings
- Channel Convergence and Consequence – traditional media continues to be challenged
- Talent Turmoil – increasing competition for valued skills and competencies
- Pressure to Prove – Marketing is persistently challenged to prove strategic value and bottom line contribution.
Only one of the above inputs – “command and control becoming cultivate and create” – comes close to addressing how the concept and dynamics of value creation are changing. What could be more fundamental than the identification, creation, delivery, and nurturing of customer value? Yet not one of the archetypes presented above is obsessed with it.
The Future of Marketing should be a paradigm shift, not a straight line extension of Marketing’s current focus with selling, promoting, and packaging. Even more disappointing is that the above scenarios and archetypes do little to move Marketing from its current inward product focus to a more outward customer orientation.
Marketing needs a bolder different future, one that is obsessed with customer value creation. This bolder future can’t be achieved by a functional focus alone, no matter how cleverly worded – network integrator, sales facilitator, etc. Because Marketing is not a function, it is a business orientation that shapes how a company creates long term, sustainable value for customers, for society, and for itself.
The Future of Marketing can’t lie in peddling influence and shouting brand superiority. It must lie in making investments in consumption ecosystems
, of which the company is only one small part. For the future of marketing to be viable, it must part ways with its incarnation of today. The scenario that is personally most exciting to me is one where an obsession with customer value makes marketing as we know it today obsolete and unnecessary!
That indeed would be a bright new future.