The escalating developments and increasing common use of IT have during the last decade been generally acknowledged as a principal contributing force of various industry and market structure transformations. As various traditional marketing structures and the identity of producers, consumers and related mediating actors and activities allegedly are being turned ‘upside down and aside’ there seems to be an emerging need for a new terminology and development of new marketing structure axioms1 :
“Our thinking is profoundly influenced, indeed trapped, by the words we use and the images they evoke. It is crucial that we find new labels and phrases that help us think and conceptualize afresh”. “We find ourselves using some combination of ‘actor’, ‘firm’, ‘provider’, ‘customer’, ‘beneficiary’, or similarly connotatively imprecise labels” (e.g. ‘lustomer’ (Brown, 2007), ‘prosumer (Toffler, 1980) ‘value propositioner’, value beneficiary, ‘value actualiser’) (From Vargo & Lusch, 2008. abbreviated).
The paper discusses ways to deal with the marketing discipline’s seemingly ‘reality escaped’, terminological and linguistic ‘gridlock’. The discussion is fuelled by findings from a case study of the music industry exploring asserted changes of various marketing behaviours and structures due to IT.
The paper principally agrees and joins the call for ways that “help us think and conceptualize afresh” However, case findings suggest that maybe its time to reclaim the traditional concepts, terms and labels by ‘remixing’ the established marketing axioms instead of trying to develop new ones. The paper suggests employing a functionalist approach where the market is studied and ‘treated’ as system or a network of functions where “the parts are defined on the basis of their function and meaning to the system as a whole”. Even if there has been an extensive transformation of actors and activities in terms of ‘who is who’, ‘who is doing what’ and ‘how is it done’ there is still a functional structure where the established marketing axioms, terms and labels are highly relevant and passable. It is however, adding to the initial quote, “crucial that we find new functional identities in traditional labels and phrases that help us think and conceptualize afresh”. This as the generation of new, sometimes elusive and imprecise, marketing axioms, labels and phrases over time often ends up becoming somewhat of a disservice to the marketing research as a science and discipline.
1 An Axiom is here referred to and described as the foundations of which a system, or a perception of a system, is based on. An axiom is hence the basic principals, content and concepts of which a theory consists of , in marketing e.g. the meaning and purported definition of e.g. production, distribution,promotion, consumption.
London, 2008. 1-13 p.