Is the marketing concept always necessary? The effectiveness of customer, competitor and societal strategies in business environment types

Steven Ward*, Aleksandra Lewandowska

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to examine which particular marketing strategies will work best in which particular business environments. It also aims to test a series of propositions that the choice of marketing strategy needs to be carefully considered so that it is appropriate for a set of environmental conditions, or business conditions. Design/methodology/approach - The paper employs survey research, structural equation modelling and t-tests. Findings - Results in this study of 217 companies from Australia, Singapore, The Netherlands and China finds general support for the hypotheses that different environmental situations provide the suitable conditions for a customer, competitor or societal orientated strategy. In particular, customer-oriented strategies are most effective in placid clustered and turbulent environments, while competitor orientated strategies work best in a placid-clustered environment. Societal marketing based strategies were shown to be most effective in placid random and placid clustered environments. This suggests that firms may use social marketing strategies in a pre-emptive manner to maintain favourable environmental conditions for the organisation. Research limitations/implications - The findings are limited somewhat by the size and nature of the sample, although this compares well to other studies in the area of marketing orientation. The research shows the importance of the match of the environment type with the business strategy, as certain strategies are most effective in particular environmental conditions. Practical implications - Choice of an appropriate business strategy is moderated by the environment. Marketing-based business strategies are not always the most effective. In turbulent environments, customer-oriented strategies seem to be most effective. Societal marketing strategies seem to be used to manage and maintain placid environments or business conditions. Competitor-based strategies are best suited to placid-clustered environments, business conditions, which are favourable and therefore attract greater competition. Originality/value - This study also introduces an important measure of the societal orientation of the firm. It provides empirical supports the thesis that marketing strategies need to be tailored for the environment and so adds to the understanding of the interplay between the effectiveness of business strategies in different business conditions. There is not a great deal of research which suggests what type of marketing strategy is best suited to what type of environment. This paper makes an important contribution to this area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)222-237
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Business environment
  • Competitors
  • Marketing strategy
  • Marketing theory
  • Social marketing


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