Relationship marketing as a paradigm shift: some conclusions from the 30R approach
Management Decision35/4  267–272
Links to organizational structure
: RM isthe marketing manifestation of the imagi-nary (virtual, network) organization – andvice versa.9
Advantages to a ﬁrm
: increased customerretention and duration; increased market-ing productivity and thus increased prof-itability; and increased stability and secu-rity.10
Advantages to the market economy
: RMadds collaboration to competition andregulations/institutions. The symbiosisbetween these three forces contributes to amarketing equilibrium, a dynamic andoptimal balance of the market economyseen from a marketing management per-spective.11
Advantages to society and the citizen
: RM ismarketing for the new economy – the ser-vice society, the information society, thepostmodern society or, as I prefer to call it,the value society – which adds valuethrough increased focus on customizedproduction and one-to-one marketing;diminished focus on standardized massmanufacturing and anonymous massmarketing.12
: RM provides a foundation for amore realistic approach to marketing thanis currently prevailing in marketing edu-cation. In practice, business is largelyconducted through networks of relation-ships.13
: RM can be applied to allkinds of companies and offerings, but therelationship portfolio and the applicationis always speciﬁc to a given situation.This is, of course, an extremely condensedpresentation; for further explication, see thesources mentioned above. As everything elsecurrently presented in RM, this is a personalinterpretation and RM is partly treated differ-ently by others. My perception of RM buildson research and practical experience, my ownas well as that of others, with the purpose of renewing our thinking and improving ourinsights.
Gaps and inconsistencies inmarketing thinking and behaviour
My research on RM has laid bare a series of gaps and inconsistencies in the thinking,development and execution of marketing.Five of these will be discussed below.
The origin of RM: new term vs oldphenomenon
There is a gap between the use of the
RMand the understanding of the actual
RM is a new term but an oldphenomenon. Too many scholars seem tochase the term rather than the content itrepresents. This may be part of the rat racefor tenure, consulting assignments, or recog-nition as (alleged) originators. Relationships,networks and interaction – which turn up asthe key terms for capturing the soul of RM –have been in the core of business since timeimmemorial. The literature and research thatare currently contributing to RM theorygeneration are primarily found in servicesmarketing, the network approach to businessmarketing, quality management, and newtrends in organization theory. The term rela-tionship marketing was used by Bund Jack-son in her project on industrial marketingfrom the late 1970s, and published in her book in 1985. Berry, in a paper in 1983, used theterm for services. Other terms that have beenused over the years are the network and inter-action approach, marketing as long-terminteractive relationships, and interactivemarketing. In an early attempt to make asynthesis of services marketing and the net-work approach to industrial marketing, theterm “a new concept of marketing” was used(Gummesson, 1983). The phenomenon of RMhas probably been treated in a number of nowforgotten texts. Wittreich, for example, beingone of the early proponents of the importanceof services marketing with an article in the
Harvard Business Review
in 1966, representedone of the very few sources to which I hadaccess when I started research on profes-sional services in 1974 (see Gummesson,1978). Among other things, Wittreich says(1969, p. 9):
There is not a single point in the course of arelationship with the client where the sale ismade, but there are many points in thatrelationship where effective selling isrequired … the sale has never been fullyconsummated until the project has beencompleted to the client’s satisfaction.
RM as lip service vs genuine change invalues and ethics
A gap between traditional marketing man-agement and RM can also be created by mar-keters who have not internalized the originalmarketing concept and its application in RM,and just perceive RM as a fad to which it issmart to confess. The old values have notkilled the new ones, just pushed them into acorner from which they make recurrentefforts to break out. Inadequate basic valuesand the absence of ethics are the biggestobstacles to success in RM.The basic values of RM should include theacceptance – in action, not only in rhetoric –of interactive relationships and a win-winsituation; of both the buyer and the seller and