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Marketing strategy
From the origin of the concept to the
development of a conceptual framework


Eric H. Shaw
Department of Marketing, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton,
Florida, USA
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to organize the semantics jungle of marketing strategy
approaches, terms and concepts into a logically coherent framework using the history of marketing
thought to inform current marketing research and practice.
Design/methodology/approach The paper takes the form of an intensive literature review
tracing the three streams of marketing strategy terms and concepts from their roots in the literatures
of early marketing management, managerial economics and corporate management to the present.
Findings Along with marketing ideas, strategy concepts from managerial economics and from
corporate management were absorbed directly into the corpus of strategic marketing thought. These
three streams of research have converged into the current state of marketing strategy an eclectic
mixture of both complementary and conflicting strategic approaches, terms and concepts. By
systematically following the evolutionary development of major contributions to strategic marketing
thought and by redefining terms and refining concepts the various approaches to strategy can be
integrated into a comprehensive conceptual framework for organizing and choosing among individual
marketing strategies.
Originality/value The framework offers conceptual and practical value. It provides a researcher
with a consistent set of terms and concepts to build upon. The framework also provides a strategic
toolkit for the marketing manager, based upon organizational and environmental conditions, to choose
from among the feasible alternatives the most effective marketing strategy to achieve managements
Keywords History of marketing thought, Business strategy, Marketing strategy, Management strategy,
Marketing management strategy, Strategic marketing, Segmentation, Targeting, Marketing mix
Paper type Research paper

Journal of Historical Research in

Vol. 4 No. 1, 2012
pp. 30-55
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/17557501211195055

Using an appropriate marketing strategy is a critical element for business success.

Choosing an effective strategy requires knowledge of what various alternative
marketing strategies exist and understanding how they work under varying
environmental and organizational conditions. To find the answers, several
fundamental questions guide this research: when and where did the notion of
marketing strategy originate? Who are the key scholars who developed the basic
strategic terms and concepts? What is the current state of marketing strategy? Why
did strategic terms and concepts become so inconsistent and contradictory? How can a
marketing strategy be improved? The purpose of this article in addressing these
questions is to use the history of marketing thought to inform current marketing
research and practice. Developments in marketing thought are used to organize the
various isolated strategic approaches into a logically coherent framework. The
construction of such a framework allows a manager, based on internal and external

conditions, to choose the most effective strategy from among the feasible alternatives
to attain marketing managements goal(s).
The term strategy is derived from the ancient Greek word strathghma
pronounced strategema (Liddell and Scott, 1871, p. 653) meaning the act of a general,
esp[ecially] a stratagem, [or] piece of generalship. The word strategy was used by the
military since ancient times, and practitioners have long employed the concept of
business strategies without using the term.
The generalizability of the strategy concept from the military to business was first
noted by Xenophon of Athens (a contemporary of Plato), who was a mediocre
philosopher, but renowned historian, and legendary general. In a dialogue, Xenophon
(1832, pp. 560-562) credits Socrates with observing that analogous to the general of an
army, the businessman must also efficiently allocate resources and effectively organize
activities, i.e. employ a stratagem, to achieve his goal whether victory or profit.
Without using the term strategy, probably the first recognized marketing stratagem to
achieve profitability buy cheape, sell deare was criticized in Catholic England as
early as the thirteenth century (St Thomas of Aquinas, 1274), Protestant Europe in the
sixteenth century (Luther, 1524), and Puritan America as early as the seventeenth
(Keayne, 1653). Xenophons strategic analogy went largely unnoticed, however, until
the middle of the twentieth century when the term marketing strategy made its historic
Compared to the practice of marketing, which goes back thousands of years (Jones
and Shaw, 2002), the academic discipline of marketing emerged much more recently,
starting around the turn of the twentieth century in the US (Bartels, 1988). Following
(and citing) Frederick Winslow Taylors (1903, 1911) influential work on scientific
management, which discussed efficiently organizing manufacturing tasks for mass
production, Shaw (1914, 1916) described the problem of efficiently organizing
marketing functions for mass distribution.
There are some suggestions of incipient discussions of marketing strategy prior to
the 1950s; for example, Rosenbergs (1978) The Roots of Marketing Strategy:
A Collection of Pre-1950 Readings, which range from 1903 to 1946. Despite the title,
however, neither the term nor the concept of marketing strategy appears in any of the
forty readings. The problem is that like many authors, Rosenberg (1978, p. 2), equates
marketing strategy with marketing management, which in turn is usually equated
with marketing. These terms are not synonymous. Marketing covers an entire
discipline that contains both micro (e.g. marketing management, buyer behavior and
consumer psychology) and macro (e.g. industry, distribution channels and aggregate
marketing system) perspectives (Jones and Shaw, 2002; Wilkie and Moore, 2002). One
micro perspective is marketing management, which includes planning among several
other areas. Planning involves establishing goals and developing marketing strategy; a
strategy being the chosen means to achieve the goal.
Similarly, the term strategy does not appear in Usuis (2008) The Development of
Marketing Management: The Case of the USA c. 1910-1940, covering roughly the
same time period as Rosenberg, because strategy, per se, was not discussed by the
pioneers of marketing thought. There are virtually no discussions using the term
strategy in the early marketing periodical literature and nearly none in the Marketing
Principles texts, which generally were more macro in orientation (Bartels, 1988; Wilkie
and Moore, 2002; Sheth et al., 1988; Shaw and Jones, 2005) than the now popular





managerial approach. Perhaps, the closest the early marketing pioneers came to the
concept marketing strategy, was a definition of marketing management, originally
used as a synonym for sales management, by Lyon (1926, p. 3) as the continuous task
of re-planning the marketing activities of a business to meet constantly changing
conditions within and without the enterprise. Probably the strongest evidence for the
post 1950s origins of the strategy concept in the marketing literature is found in the
work of Bartels, one of marketings leading historians, who catalogued virtually every
US marketing textbook to 1961. There is only a single reference to marketing strategy
in the index of Bartels (1962) earlier work, which cites Lyons (1926) book Salesmen in
Marketing Strategy; however, with the addition of a chapter on marketing management
in his later versions (Bartels, 1976, 1988) the term marketing strategy appears more
frequently. This later emergence of the term provides strong evidence that strategy is
associated with developments in marketing management that occurred in the 1960s
and thereafter. Although the more common term that developed is marketing strategy,
it is sometimes called marketing management strategy (Usui, 2008, p. 1).
It should also be noted that strategy in management, marketings sister discipline,
followed a parallel development. Like marketing, management also emerged as a
business discipline at the turn of the twentieth century with the development of
Taylors Scientific Management. Also paralleling marketing, aside from a few isolated
mentions of the term strategy prior to the 1960s (e.g. Simon, 1947; Drucker, 1954;
March and Simon, 1958), the concept was initially fleshed out in Chandlers (1962) work
on Strategy and Structure, and some basic strategies were developed by Ansoff (1965)
in Corporate Strategy. Like Bartels in marketing, Chandler (1969, p. 237) in
management noted:
It has only been in the past 15 years [mid-1950s] that strategy has found its way [from the
military] into business literature. It was not until the 1970s and 1980s, however, that the
terminology evolved from business policy (Learned et al., 1965) to business policy and
strategy (Cannon, 1968; Schendel and Hatten, 1972) to business strategy then corporate
strategy or strategic management (Schendel and Hofer, 1979).

With few exceptions, the earliest academic approaches to history of marketing strategy
thinking are found in the 1950s literature of both managerial economics (e.g. Dean,
1951; Forrester, 1959) and marketing management (Alderson chapter in Alexander
et al., 1953; Smith, 1956; Borden, 1957). These strategic concepts were absorbed into the
emerging marketing management school of thought in the late 1950s and early 1960s
(e.g. Kelley and Lazer, 1958; McCarthy, 1960; Davis, 1961). Subsequently, corporate
strategy concepts developed in the mid-1960s (e.g. Ansoff, 1965; Learned et al., 1965),
were also incorporated piecemeal into the marketing management textbooks of the late
1960s (e.g. Kotler, 1967; McCarthy, 1960). As more recent strategic concepts and
approaches were introduced in the 1970s (e.g. Henderson, 1970, 1973) and 1980s
(Porter, 1980, 1985, 1990), they too were added bit by bit to the marketing textbooks of
the times (e.g. in updated editions of Kotler and McCarthy). This has produced a
semantic jungle of strategy terms, obscuring and almost obliterating the development
of improved strategic concepts, resulting in multiple conflicting approaches to
marketing management strategy. Thus, the present state of marketing strategy
knowledge is inconsistent at best and incoherent at worst.
The current work seeks to organize the numerous isolated approaches to marketing
strategy into a single logically coherent framework. Systematically organizing

strategic approaches, terms and concepts is possible because the meaning of marketing
strategy offers one of the few bright spots of consistency in the literature. Following
Wroe Aldersons (1937, 1957) work on segmentation and differentiation, Alfred
Oxenfeldt (1958, p. 267) defined marketing strategy in two parts: (1) definition of
target markets and (2) the composition of a marketing mix. Oxenfeldt worked with
Aldersons consulting firm and was heavily influenced by him. These two parts of a
marketing strategy are fundamental because customer targets represent the demand
side of the market (see Robinson, 1933) on one hand, and the marketing mix represents
the supply side of the market (see Chamberlin, 1933) on the other. Over the decades,
subsequent marketing thinkers have continually embraced this two-part definition
(McCarthy, 1960; Kotler, 1967; Enis, 1974; Lazer and Culley, 1983; Cravens, 1987;
Czepiel, 1992; Kerin and Peterson, 1993; Boone and Kurtz, 1998; Kotler and Keller, 2009,
etc.), and there are no apparent challenges or disagreements with it in the marketing
Despite general concurrence over the definition of marketing strategy, there is little
agreement about specific strategic terms or concepts. Terms used synonymously by
some researchers have different definitions in the work of others, and occasionally in
the same authors own work at a later date; not infrequently, terms are used without a
clearly expressed meaning. Difficulties arise over the meaning of even the most basic
marketing strategies. For example, Dickson and Ginter (1987, p. 1) write:
Despite the pervasive use of the terms market segmentation and product differentiation
there [is] considerable misunderstanding about their meaning and use. [Further, these two
strategies have not] been consistently described and well understood [and] a review of 16
contemporary marketing textbooks reveals considerable confusion (Dickson and Ginter,
1987, p. 1).

And segmentation and differentiation represent two of the oldest and most central
strategies in the marketing literature.
In addition to the semantics jungle, another problem is that the sources of early
marketing strategy concepts are seldom referenced in the marketing literature making
it difficult to follow the evolution of strategy concepts from their origin to the present.
And yet, because complexity arises over time from simplicity (Simon, 1968), it is
necessary to trace the history of strategy concepts from their beginning to understand
how we arrived at the present state of disarray and attempt to bring order out of the
Along with the idiosyncratic usage of terms, and the sketchy origin and
development of many strategic concepts, a more fundamental problem is the lack of an
underlying framework for marketing strategy. While there have been several
alternative approaches to describe various marketing strategies, some approaches are
borrowed whole and unchanged from corporate management strategy without
regard to how well the concepts might fit into marketing strategy. For example, of two
popular approaches to corporate strategy, by Ansoff and Porter, one or the other is
found in almost all marketing management and marketing strategy textbooks, but
seldom are both discussed in the same book. One of the earliest approaches to
corporate strategy was Ansoffs (1957, 1965) growth strategies, which is found in
many marketing management textbooks (e.g. McCarthy, 1978; Lazer and Culley, 1983;
Kerin and Peterson, 2004). Another corporate strategy approach was Porters (1980,





1985, 1990) generic strategies, also found in many marketing management texts (e.g.
Cravens, 1987; Czepiel, 1992; Boone and Kurtz, 1998).
Kotler and Keller (2003) is one of the few marketing writers to describe both Ansoff
and Porters approaches to corporate strategy; however, he treats growth (Ansoff, 1965;
Porter, 1985) and generic (Kotler and Keller, 2003) strategies independently and makes
no attempt at reconciling the incongruities between them. No doubt useful in
developing corporate strategy for which they were originally intended, and which
encompasses a broader perspective than marketing strategies, both the growth and
generic approaches to corporate strategy create some inconsistencies when applied
directly to marketing strategy. Not only have these strategic approaches been treated
independently without attempting to relate them to each other in the marketing
literature, but neither has been integrated with early strategic marketing thought,
discussed shortly.
The organization of this project is to sort through the early marketing and later
corporate strategy literature to:
find the original sources of marketing strategy concepts;
sort-out inconsistent strategy terminology; and
redefine and reorganize strategic terms and concepts into an integrated
conceptual framework for managing marketing strategy.
In effect, this would provide a toolkit of feasible strategies from which a marketing
manager could choose the strategy deemed most effective to achieve a desired goal.
Early marketing strategy concepts
Before marketing strategy developed as an off-shoot of marketing management in the
1970s, even before marketing management emerged as a school of thought in the 1960s
to replace the traditional approaches to marketing (Bartels, 1988; Sheth et al., 1988;
Shaw and Jones, 2005), a few isolated concepts were developed in the 1950s literature
that form the core of modern marketing strategy. These seminal concepts include:
Bordens (1957, 1964) expression of the marketing mix, Smiths (1956) development of
product differentiation and market segmentation as alternative marketing
strategies, Deans (1951) conception of skimming and penetration as alternative
pricing (that he extended to the whole marketing mix) strategies, and Forresters (1959)
description of the product life cycle (PLC).
Bordens marketing mix
In his classic Harvard Business Review (HBR) article of the marketing mix, Borden
(1964) credits James Culliton in 1948 with describing the marketing executive as a
decider and a mixer of ingredients. This led Borden, in the early 1950s, to the
insight that what this mixer of ingredients was deciding upon was a marketing mix.
McCarthy (1960, p. 52) acknowledges Frey (1956), The Effective Marketing Mix, with
producing the first marketing mix checklist, consisting of more than a dozen items.
Subsequently, in an obscure unpublished working paper, Borden (1957) produced a
marketing mix checklist with 12 sections containing more than two-dozen subsections.
With dozens of items, the marketing mix might well have remained an obscure
concept, but instead took off when McCarthy (1960) reduced Frey and Bordens

laundry lists to the now common 4 Ps mnemonic: product, price, promotion and place
(making the notion simple enough for professors to remember).
With McCarthys (1960) simplification and popularization of the marketing mix,
virtually every subsequent marketing management textbook has been organized
around the four Ps. Not surprisingly, as the variables most easily controlled by
marketing managers, the majority of strategies discussed in the following sections
involve either adding or subtracting various ingredients to the marketing mix.



Smiths differentiation and segmentation strategies

In one of the earliest uses of the term marketing strategy, in a very influential Journal
of Marketing article, Smith (1956) described two basic marketing strategies: product
differentiation and market segmentation. Although there are no references in his
article, Smith was clearly following Aldersons prior use of the terms product
differentiation and market segmentation (see Alderson, 1937, article and subsequent
chapter in Alexander et al., 1940). Smith worked with Alderson as an associate in the
consulting firm of Alderson and Sessions, from June 1952 until its demise in 1958, and
like most marketing academics, was strongly influenced by Aldersons thinking.
Indeed, it is reported that Alderson gave his notes on segmentation to Wendell Smith
to write up [. . .] to become [Smiths] award winning article (Wooliscroft et al., 2005,
p. 18).
In product differentiation, according to Smith (1956, p. 5), a firm tries bending the
will of demand to the will of supply. That is, distinguishing or differentiating some
aspect(s) of its marketing mix from those of competitors, in a mass market or large
segment, where customer preferences are relatively homogeneous (or heterogeneity is
ignored, Hunt, 2011, p. 80), in an attempt to shift its aggregate demand curve to the left
(greater quantity sold for a given price) and make it more inelastic (less amenable to
substitutes). With segmentation, a firm recognizes that it faces multiple demand
curves, because customer preferences are heterogeneous, and focuses on serving one or
more specific target segments within the overall market. A comparison of these two
approaches is illustrated in Figure 1.
Ultimately, as Oxenfeldt (1958) observed, strategies in marketing must emphasize
either targeting customer segments (the demand side of the market) or differentiating
the marketing mix (the supply side of the market).

Figure 1.
Differentiation and



Smiths use of product differentiation followed Chamberlins (1933) monopolistic

competition. Chamberlins work in competitive theory also provided the basis for
Aldersons (1937, 1957) competition for differential advantage, Clarks (1940)
workable competition and (Clark, 1961) dynamic competition, Porters (1985)
sustainable competitive advantage, and Hunt and Morgans (1995) Comparative
[later resource] advantage theory of competition.
The idea of a product differentiation strategy is to position one firms brand as
different from competition in the minds of its customers, when supply and demand are
relatively homogeneous (or the firm chooses to ignore heterogeneity). Product
differences are used in a broad sense, according to Chamberlin (1933, p. 71), and refer
to an alteration in the quality of the product itself technical changes, a new design or
better materials; it may mean a new package or container, it may mean more prompt or
courteous service, a different way of doing business, or perhaps a different location.
Thus differentiation can be real, i.e. based on physical product characteristics or
lower price, or perceived, i.e. based on a prestige image, a familiar jingle or a
recognizable logo (Alderson, 1965). Because any one or any combination of marketing
mix elements can be used to differentiate a brand, it is probably more accurate to
change the terminology from product to marketing mix differentiation, or simply
The term market segmentation was introduced into marketing by Alderson (1937)
in an article that was later expanded into a book chapter (Alexander et al., 1940),
because of his recognition of heterogeneity in supply and demand. Segmentation was
based on the work of Robinson (1933, p. 187) who conceptualized the division of
markets into sub-markets [. . .] with the highest price being charged in the least elastic
market, and the lowest price in the most elastic market. It was not until Smiths (1956)
work, however, that the segmentation concept was fully developed and popularized in
the marketing literature. Market segmentation may be defined as subdividing a
heterogeneous market into more homogeneous subgroups based on some common
customer characteristics, such as age, location, time of purchase or purchase frequency.
Segmentation strategy has been expanded into several forms, such as niche,
multi-segment and across-the-board targeting strategies (Alderson, 1957; Kotler, 1980;
McCarthy, 1978). In distinguishing between these alternative strategies, Smith (1956, p.
5) described a product differentiation strategy as attempting to secure a layer of the
market cake, whereas market segmentation strives to secure one or more
wedge-shaped pieces.
This treatment of differentiation and segmentation is broadly consistent with two
recent discussions of marketings intellectual heritage that also purport to provide
a better understanding (Hunt, 2011) and clarification [. . .] over the fundamental
marketing concepts: product differentiation and market segmentation (Pirog and
Smith, 2011). For the present discussion, segmentation and differentiation offer the
firm alternative marketing strategies. Aiming to serve a small subset of customers
especially well, a segmentation strategy represents a rifle approach aiming a distinct
marketing mix at each targeted segment (from niche to across-the-board) that the firm
serves (Perreault et al., 2006). Alternatively, aiming to satisfy most customers
reasonably well, in a differentiation strategy the firm designs a mix that stands out
from competition and uses a shotgun approach pointed at the mass market (or large
customer segment).

Deans skimming and penetration strategies

Some of the earliest types of marketing strategy were proposed by Joel Dean. In a 1950
article, and then in his classic textbook, Managerial Economics, there is a section titled:
Policies for pioneer pricing. Dean (1951, p. 419) writes:
The strategic decision in pricing is the choice between: (1) a policy of initial high prices that
skim the cream of demand; and (2) a policy of low prices from the outset serving as an active
agent for market penetration.



With skimming, a firm introduces a product with a high price and after milking the
least price sensitive segment, gradually reduces price, in a stepwise fashion, tapping
effective demand at each price level. Price skimming works because different
customers have differing social status needs, incomes and price sensitivities; and those
with high income or low price sensitivity, for example, can be viewed as a
homogeneous segment within the overall heterogeneous market. Notice how Deans
price skimming strategy exploits Robinsons (1933) emphasis on differing customer
segments having differing elasticities of demand. By capturing consumer surplus
(i.e. the excess of what customers are willing to pay above what they actually pay),
price skimming generates greater revenue than a price penetration strategy, discussed
next (see Figure 2).
The alternative introductory pricing strategy is to rapidly penetrate the market.
With penetration pricing a firm continues its initial low price from introduction to
rapidly capture sales and market share, but with lower profit margins than skimming.
Although revenues are lower, penetration provides a barrier to entry because
competitors are less attracted to a market with reduced profitability. Not limited to just
the price P of the marketing mix, Dean also considered the impact of varying degrees
of promotional expenditures on these alternative pricing strategies. He recognized the
advantage of combining high promotional expenditures with low price to even more
rapidly penetrate the market than using either marketing mix ingredient alone. Dean
also appreciated that fewer promotional dollars but greater targeting effort were

Figure 2.
Price skimming and
penetration pricing



necessary in skimming, which generates slower penetration but higher profit margins.
We shall see that price skimming is often used in a niche segmentation strategy, while
a penetration pricing strategy can be extended to the entire marketing mix by adding
product quality and distribution intensity to pricing and promotion.
Although Dean was an economist, his pioneer pricing strategies were transported
into the earliest marketing management textbooks, including: Howards (1957)
Marketing Management: Analysis and Decision, Kelly and Lazers (1958) Managerial
Marketing: Perspectives and Viewpoints, McCarthys (1960), Basic Marketing:
A Managerial Approach, and Kotlers (1967) Marketing Management: Analysis,
Planning and Control. Skimming and penetration pricing strategies are still found in
almost all modern marketing management and marketing strategy textbooks, almost
always without attribution.
The life cycle of skimming and penetration pricing strategies, by one of marketings
most influential authors, Philip Kotler in his Marketing Management textbooks from
1967 to 2009, provides a useful illustration of the ebb and flow of these strategy
concepts over more than four decades. In his 1967 and 1972 editions Kotler summarizes
Deans version of pioneer pricing strategies in a couple of paragraphs. In his 1976
edition Kotler juxtaposes high and low prices against high and low promotion
expenditures to create a two by two matrix named: introductory marketing strategies
(Kotler, 1976, p. 235). Although the concepts remain the same (fast and slow
penetration versus fast and slow skimming), the terminology is refined in his 1980
edition. The discussion remains unchanged through subsequent editions of Kotlers
textbooks until the 2000 edition where the matrix is eliminated and the discussion
again reduced to a few paragraphs of the newly termed market-penetration pricing
and market-skimming pricing (Kotler, 2000, p. 458). By the 2003 edition, all
references to fast and slow aspects are purged. This may be due to the difficulty of
finding real world applications of fast-skimming and slow-penetration, because
skimming is inherently gradual to skim the cream of each successive segment and
penetration is inherently rapid to forestall competition. Kotler and (now co-author)
Kellers two short paragraph discussions of penetration and skimming strategies
remain the same in the 2006 and 2009 editions. This example shows the difficulty in
anchoring strategic terms and concepts without a well-grounded conceptual
Forresters product life cycle (PLC)
The PLC does not offer marketing strategies, per se; rather it provides an overarching
framework from which to choose among various strategic alternatives. One of the
earliest discussions of the PLC in marketing is found in Alderson and Sessions
consulting newsletter: Cost and Profit Outlook (Alderson, 1951, p. 1). Here Alderson
only identifies three stages in his elongated S shaped sales curve: establishment,
expansion and stabilization. At about the same time, Dean (1951, p. 422) mentions
products going through a five stage life cycle analogous to human development:
before birth, at birth, childhood, adulthood, or senescence. Another five stage model
was developed by Jones (1957), who includes introduction, growth, maturity,
saturation and decline stages. Subsequently Wasson (1960, 1974) discussed still
another five stage PLC model, which in addition to introduction and decline includes a

competitive turbulence stage between growth and maturity (common with high
technology products). Different terms but similar concepts.
Perhaps the earliest version of the PLC curve, using stages followed today, appears
in a Harvard Business Review (HBR) article by Forrester (1959). His work popularized
the familiar elongated S shaped sales curve with the now common four stages:
introduction, growth, maturity and decline (see Figure 3).
Forrester used the PLC to model the impact of advertising on sales using his
computer simulation Industrial Dynamics. Obviously, sales are impacted by all the
ingredients in the marketing mix. It is difficult to say who deserves priority of claim.
Alderson and Dean produced three and five stage versions of the PLC. When
interviewed by Muhs (1985), Forrester said several PLC concepts were already in the
literature; whereas Conrad thought he had originated at least some of the ideas (Muhs,
1985). Because Forresters version has survived in its original form to the present, this
version is, somewhat arbitrarily, regarded as the archetype of the PLC.
The basic idea of the PLC is that sales, the dependant variable, follows an elongated
S shaped curve that is a function of a number of customer variables (e.g. size of
market, rate of growth, rate of replacement) and competitor variables (e.g. number of
competitors, barriers to entry, marketing mix effort). All of these variables are captured
by time, which is a proxy for all independent variables.
Although, there are many variations (see Lazer and Shaw, 1986), the life cycle starts
when a new product is introduced into the market. Sales start out slowly as customers
first become aware of the new product and then develop a desire for it. If a sufficient
number of customers adopt the new product, the pioneers success attracts competition.
New competitors entering the market create the rapid growth stage of the PLC
because increased competition creates greater product variation and lower prices,
along with heavier advertising and more extensive distribution. The combined
industrys marketing mix efforts fuel positive word of mouth as customers feel
compelled to keep up with the Joneses. During the rapid growth stage, sales sooner or
later reach an inflection point where demand shifts from increasing at an accelerating



Figure 3.
Product life cycle



rate to increasing at a decelerating pace due to a shift in the ratio of new purchases to
replacement buying.
The excess capacity caused by a slowing growth rate accounts for Wassons (1974)
competitive turbulence stage. As sales approach the market potential (i.e. most
customers who want the product already own it), sales growth slows to acquisitions for
replenishing stock and for newly formed households. In reaction, competitive
marketing mixes and market shares often stabilize as well and the product enters the
maturity stage of the life cycle. Eventually the product starts losing its customer base,
usually to another new product, and sales go into the decline stage, as only laggards
(who eventually die out) remain in the market buying the old product. It should be
noted that decline and divestment is not necessarily inevitable, as products reach
maturity they may be recycled into another growth phase. For more than a century, the
Gillette Company has been successful in forestalling maturity and decline by
continuously recycling growth of its razor and blade life cycle by engineering new and
improved brand extensions (e.g. safety razor, blue blade, stainless steel blade,
Technomatic, Atra, Trac II twin blade system, Sensor, Mach 3 three blade system,
Fusion five blade system).
With Levitts (1965) classic HBR article: Exploit the product life cycle, the PLC
entered the rapid growth stage of its own life cycle. Subsequently, numerous literature
reviews and meta-analyses have appeared summarizing the extant PLC literature and
analyzing its strengths and weaknesses (e.g. Buzzell, 1966; Dhalla and Yuspeh, 1976;
Polli and Cook, 1969; Smallwood, 1973); with one of the most comprehensive analyses
in a book by Wasson (1974) and a special section in the Journal of Marketing guest
edited by Day (1981). The PLC has both supporters and critics.
The notion that successful products go through sequenced stages of a life cycle over
time is supported by the PLCs heavily researched theoretical complement
the diffusion of innovation (Lazer and Shaw, 1986). Sales, the dependent variable in the
PLC is mirrored by the flip side of the coin consumer acceptance (or purchase), the
dependent variable in the diffusion of innovation literature (Rogers, 1962). The major
criticism of the PLC as a theory is predicting the timing of transitions from one stage to
the next (Hunt, 2010). Transitional predictions need not detain us, however, because for
purposes of the present research the PLC is used in its role as a classification system,
with each stage indicating several available strategies. Specifying a given stage is
easily determined empirically by plotting sales over time. Given that a product can
even loosely be identified with a particular stage of the PLC points the manager to a
choice of several alternative marketing strategies, discussed shortly.
Forrester was an economist, but his concept of the PLC was reproduced in the
earliest marketing management textbooks, including: Kelley and Lazer (1958),
McCarthy (1960), and Kotler (1967). The PLC is still found in almost all modern
marketing management and strategy textbooks, but hardly any give a citation. In
contrast to the lack of citations for marketing strategy concepts, surprisingly, almost
all corporate management strategies, other than SWOT, are well referenced in the
marketing literature.
Corporate strategy concepts
The strategic concepts discussed so far (the marketing mix, skimming and penetration,
differentiation and segmentation, and the PLC), were created by economists and

marketing scholars and gained popularity in early marketing management textbooks.

The following strategic concepts, Andrews SWOT, Ansoffs growth strategies,
Porters generic strategies, and Hendersons product portfolio model, were developed
for corporate management, not marketing management. Because marketing strategy is
a major component of corporate strategy there is overlap, but these two areas are not
isomorphic. Nevertheless, corporate strategy concepts have been shoehorned intact
into subsequent generations of marketing textbooks from the 1970s and 1980s to the
present. It is largely shoehorning of borrowed concepts that has created the present
state of isolated bits and pieces of marketing strategy rather than the development of
an overarching conceptual framework.
Andrews SWOT analysis
Although widely used in marketing strategy, SWOT (also known as TOWS) Analysis
originated in corporate strategy. The SWOT concept, if not the acronym, is the work of
Kenneth R. Andrews who is credited with writing the text portion of the classic:
Business Policy: Text and Cases (Learned et al., 1965). For Andrews, strategy emerges
from aligning environmental opportunity with corporate capability; he writes:
In deciding what strategy should be [. . .] its principal subactivities include (1) identifying
opportunities and threats in the companys environment [. . .] and (2) appraising the
companys strengths and weaknesses. The strategic alternative which results (is) a matching
of opportunity and corporate capability (Learned et al., 1965, p. 20).

Interestingly, this matching of external circumstances with internal conditions was

anticipated by Alderson (1957, p. 357) who also spoke of matching opportunity with
effort where Aldersons (1957, pp. 361-364) effort was defined almost synonymously
with Andrews capability. It is difficult to know if Andrews at Harvard was
influenced by marketings dominant thinker, Alderson at MIT at the time, and later
Wharton, who was also one of Americas leading business consultants.
Even though Andrews does not identify any actual strategic alternative which
results from SWOT analysis, like the PLC, these two approaches provide the critical
factors to consider in determining the most effective strategic choice. The key internal
factors affecting strategy, from the marketing perspective, involve the availability and
application of marketing mix resources (Aldersons effort); and some of the crucial
external factors include market size, potential, rate of growth, and competitors (as also
described in the PLC). SWOT analysis, as will be shown, also provides the main
foundational concepts for growth share type product portfolio matrices.
Since marketing strategy, by definition (Oxenfeldt, 1958), involves choosing target
segments and a marketing mix, many of the following approaches to corporate
strategy also emphasize one or the other of these fundamental marketing strategy
concepts. Next we examine the genesis of approaches to corporate strategy that have
come to dominate the marketing textbook literature, then reorienting them to fit
marketing strategy by breaking down and modifying the concepts where necessary,
and finally modernizing the terminology and rebuilding the concepts into a framework
for marketing strategy.
Ansoffs growth strategies
The most well-known, and least often attributed, aspect of Igor Ansoffs Growth
Strategies in the marketing literature is the term product-market. The product-market





concept results from Ansoff juxtaposing new and existing products with new and
existing markets in a two by two matrix, as shown in Figure 4.
Ansoffs (1957, p. 114) original HBR paper establishing the two by two
product-market matrix was preceded by an HBR article three months earlier with
almost identical concepts by Johnson and Jones (1957, p. 52). These authors developed
a three by three matrix based on technological (product) newness and market newness
ranging from existing products to new products. One of Ansoffs cells used the
identical term diversification found in Johnson and Jones; while two of the cells used
nearly identical terminology: product extension versus Ansoffs product
development, and market extension versus Ansoffs market development.
Although not cited (citations of earlier work were rare in business periodicals prior to
the 1950s), Ansoff (1957) would certainly have been familiar with the earlier article and
his work clearly refines and extends some of Johnson and Joness (1957) ideas. Useful
as the model may be for corporate strategy, there are several problems with Ansoffs
(1957, 1965) product-market matrix from a marketing perspective.
For marketing, there are two problematic and two useful cells in Ansoffs matrix. In
the case of an existing product and an existing market, Ansoff suggests a penetration
strategy. However, there is no meaningful information provided about how to actually
use this strategy to penetrate the market. For example, Ansoff (1957, p. 114) says:
Market penetration is an effort to increase company sales without departing from an original
product-market strategy.

In a similar vein Ansoff (1965, pp. 109-110) states:

Marketing penetration denotes a growth direction through the increase of market share for
the present product-market.

This begs the question: what should the strategist do to generate sales or market share
growth without departing from an original product-market strategy? Sales and
market share are goals, but what are the specifics of a penetration strategy to attain
them? In answer to the question, Ansoff is silent, as are most subsequent marketing

Figure 4.
Growth strategies

writers. Aside from the strategys lack of specificity, there is a glaring inconsistency
that has apparently escaped notice in the marketing literature.
It will be recalled that Dean (1951) regarded a penetration strategy as introducing a
new product into a new market (and he specified the strategy as employing low price
and high promotion to rapidly build sales and gain market share). This presents a
contradiction in the use of the term penetration, because Ansoffs strategy involves
an existing product in an existing market rather than a new product in a new market.
As will be shown, a penetration strategy may be used with either new or existing
products in either new or existing markets; and as Dean proposed, a penetration
strategy involves the aggressive use of a combination of marketing mix elements.
Another problem with the matrix involves strategic level. Ansoff regarded a
diversification strategy (i.e. new product and new market) as a major departure from a
firms current operations that involved mergers and acquisitions. In this case,
corporate diversification is a top-level business strategy that is seldom made by a
marketing manager. On the other hand, if a diversification strategy is taken to mean
the introduction of a new product to a new customer segment, at the marketing
management level, then it is simply a form of segmentation strategy, discussed next.
There are two particularly useful components in Ansoffs growth strategies.
Market development, according to Ansoffs (1957, p. 114), is a strategy in which the
company attempts to adapt its present product line to new [market segments].
Essentially, the firm expands its sales by adding new customer segments (irrespective
of whether the product is old or new). The market development concept will be retained
in its expanded form, but following Smith (1956) renamed a segment expansion
strategy. Segment expansion may take several forms (Kotler, 1980; McCarthy, 1981),
such as a multi-segment strategy (targeting several segments each with their own
marketing mix), or an across-the-board segment strategy (aiming a different marketing
mix at each customer segment in a market).
The other useful growth strategy is Ansoffs product development strategy, in
which new models, styles, or colors are added to the product line. Kerin and Peterson
(1978, pp. 123-124) proposed replacing product development with their more relevant
term offering development; arguing that the former is limited to products and the
latter includes both products and services. Both development terms could stand
improvement. The product development term is limited and the offering development
term is awkward. A more modern term without baggage, that also parallels a segment
expansion strategy, is a brand expansion strategy.
One should also realize that both growth strategies segment expansion and
brand expansion, build upon Smiths (1956) original two marketing strategies:
segmentation and differentiation. As shown next, Smiths strategic alternatives
also provide the conceptual underpinning for Porters generic strategies.
Porters generic strategies
Starting with a two by one matrix, Porters (1980) work has undergone a series of
modifications (Porter, 1985, 1990) to arrive at a two by two matrix that juxtaposes low
cost and uniqueness with industry-wide and narrow target segments (see Figure 5).
Porters matrix, like Ansoffs, was developed for corporate strategy, hence it also
has pros and cons for marketing strategy. One of the main weaknesses of Porters
generic strategies from the marketing perspective is the concept of low cost leadership.





Figure 5.
Generic strategies

Having a lower cost has two alternative implications: either higher profit margins or
lower prices. Higher profit margin is the implication resulting from lower cost that
Porter (1985, p. 13) apparently had in mind:
If a firm can achieve and sustain overall cost leadership, then it will be an above-average
performer in its industry provided it can command prices at or near the industry average.

Significant for corporate strategy because it produces greater profits, Porters

advantage of a lower cost provides almost no value for the marketing strategist. An
average price may avoid being a marketing weakness, but it certainly is not a
marketing strength. It is only the second implication, when a low cost advantage is
translated into a price below competition that it becomes a strength the marketing
strategist finds valuable.
A lower price than competition is a strength because below market pricing is a form
of differentiating one brand offering from another, as surely as a prestige product,
unique service, trademark, logo, promotional jingle, distribution outlet, or any other
marketing mix element(s) that make one brand stand out from the pack in the minds of
potential or actual customer segments. Thus, juxtaposing low cost (almost always used
synonymously but mistakenly with low price by marketing students) versus
differentiation (with non-price marketing mix ingredients) carries more baggage than
benefit, since price is one element of the marketing mix, and any element can serve as
the basis for a differential or competitive advantage. Simply, it is illogical to exclude
price as a type of differential advantage. In Chamberlins (1933, p. 56) words:
Differentiation (occurs) if any significant basis exists for distinguishing the goods of one
seller from those of another.

As Porter (1985, p. 14), himself, notes:

In a differentiation strategy a firm seeks to be unique in its industry along some dimensions
that are widely valued by buyers.

Low price is obviously a dimension widely valued by many buyers. Therefore, to

complete the syllogism, low price is an element of a differentiation strategy.

There is another marketing issue with Porters matrix, the dichotomy between
industry wide and narrow target strategies. An industry wide strategy, better known
in the marketing literature as a mass market strategy (i.e. a single marketing mix for all
customers in the market) is most relevant for large firms with strong financial resources
offering a standardized commodity. Porters narrow target segment, commonly known
in marketing as a niche strategy (targeting a narrowly defined customer segment with
a tailored marketing mix), is often a necessity for a smaller firm with strong marketing
skills but limited financial capability. However, Porters matrix does not recognize
several alternative marketing strategies sandwiched between these two. In between a
mass market and a niche strategy, there are a variety of segment expansion strategies
(e.g. multi-segment or across-the-board, as previously discussed). Thus, all variations of
Porters generic strategies, except cost leadership, may also be derived from Smiths
(1956) core marketing strategies: differentiation and segmentation.
BCGs growth-share portfolio matrix
Based on his work with experience curves (that also provides the rationale for Porters
low cost leadership strategy), the growth-share matrix was originally created by Bruce
D. Henderson, CEO of the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in 1968 (according to BCG
history). Throughout the 1970s, Henderson expanded upon the concept in a series of
short (one to three page) articles in the BCG newsletter titled Perspectives (Henderson,
1970, 1972, 1973, 1976a, b). Tremendously popular among large multi-product firms,
the BCG portfolio matrix was popularized in the marketing literature by Day (1977).
By the early 1980s, there were more than a dozen portfolio models, relating
environmental opportunities to organizational strengths (e.g. General Electrics 3 3
market attractiveness business strength matrix, Shell Chemicals 3 3 business
prospects company capabilities directional policy matrix, Arthur D. Littles 4 5
industry maturity competitive position table). All portfolio models focus on some
variation mostly in terminology of a firms competitive strengths and market
growth opportunities (see Andrews SWOT). Either because it was the first mover, or
the least complicated, or it offered the most colorful terminology (e.g. cash cows and
dogs), the BCG 2 2 market growth market share matrix dominates the product
portfolio literature (see Figure 6).
Products in various cells of the growth-share matrix are directly related to stages in
the product life cycle. Question marks are introduced into the market with the potential
for growth. If their sales growth actualizes their potential, question marks become
stars. With a slowing growth rate stars mature into cash cows; and as growth declines,
cows turn into dogs. For question marks and stars, found in the early stages of the
PLC, a number of introductory and growth strategies have previously been mentioned
and are further discussed below.
In the maturity and decline stages of the PLC, three additional marketing mix
strategies emerge from portfolio models maintenance, harvesting, and divesting.
Although the concepts were being used by firms long before the terms were developed
(Kotler, 1965), portfolio models rationalize these strategies and make them more
explicit. In early to mid-maturity, when sales growth is slowing, the BCG suggests a
maintenance strategy in which a firm holds or maintains its marketing mix effort at
current expenditure levels. In mid to late maturity, when sales growth begins turning
negative, a harvesting strategy (see Kotlers, 1978, discussion) is recommended





Figure 6.
Growth share matrix

where the firm reduces its marketing mix expenditures anticipating a less than
proportional reduction in sales. As the market continues declining, at some point a
divesting strategy becomes necessary. The marketing mix is reduced to zero and the
brand removed from the market.
Framework for marketing strategy
Having followed the literature and dissected marketing strategy terms, this section
integrates the concepts into a framework that identifies alternative marketing
strategies at different stages of the PLC and under various SWOT conditions. The
framework is shown in Figure 7.

Figure 7.
Framework for marketing

Figure 7 shows the stage in the industry or market life cycle that a particular
marketing strategy becomes viable for a pioneer or followers, and ends when the
strategy is no longer a realistic alternative. The various marketing strategies in each
stage of the PLC are described below.
Market introduction strategies
At introduction, the marketing strategist has two principle strategies to choose from:
penetration or niche. A penetration strategy (Dean, 1951; Ansoff, 1965) emphasizes an
aggressive marketing mix for a mass market or a large segment of the market. As the
term has been developed in this research, a penetration strategy is not limited to a
current product in a current market (Ansoff) or just a low introductory price (Dean).
A penetration strategy involves using the marketing mix aggressively. Although
every mix element need not be aggressive, a penetration strategy should include some
combination of a no-frills product, minimal service, low price, high promotional
expenditures and intensive distribution effort. A penetration strategy, following
Andrews SWOT, is ideal for large firms with strong financial resources facing a large
and growing market, price sensitive customers with minimal brand awareness or
preference, many potential competitors and few barriers to entry. A penetration
strategy will work from the introduction into the growth stage and perhaps as late as
the early maturity stage of the PLC. As an offering approaches maturity, however, high
marketing mix expenditures cannot be sustained as sales growth slows and marginal
costs rise more rapidly than marginal revenue.
Alternatively, a niche strategy (Kotler, 1980; Porter, 1980; McCarthy, 1981) focuses
on a narrowly defined customer segment and is ideal for smaller firms with limited
resources. The niche strategy expands Porters focus (Porter, 1980) or narrow target
segment (Porter, 1990) strategy and incorporates Deans (1951) price skimming but
from the angle of a market segments price sensitivity. Although a
segmentation-oriented strategy, the marketing mix aimed at a niche is largely
dictated by company and market considerations. With the niche strategy (Alderson,
1957; confusingly termed concentrated segmentation by Kotler, 1976) a firm targets a
narrowly defined customer segment. The marketing mix typically involves a custom
tailored product offering, a high price, and given the small-sized customer base,
promotional expenditures are focused and thereby relatively low, with selective or
exclusive distribution coverage. This strategy works well in smaller segments
requiring higher profit margins to compensate for lack of sales volume, when
customers are insensitive to price, can easily be made aware of the brand with minimal
promotional effort, and the firm can create some barriers to entry resulting in few
direct competitors. The niche strategy can be highly profitable, even in very small
segments, because it combines high price with low marketing mix expenditures
(Kotler, 1980). This strategy has the added virtue of allowing pin-point timing. A niche
strategy does not require a lot of set-up and breakdown time, effort or money, allowing
a firm to move in and out of the market quickly. Taking advantage of windows of
opportunity (Abell, 1978), a niche is therefore potentially profitable at virtually any
stage of the life cycle from introduction to decline. For example, the General Pencil
Company (GPC) founded in 1889, produced a high quality lead pencil (once the
standard bearer of the ubiquitous No. 2 pencil), but since pencils have become a
throw-away, even single-use product, GPC was unable to compete with cheap imports





on price. Facing a declining market, for a commodity type product, GPC found their
niche artists and illustrators who required a harder more durable lead in their pencil
and were willing to pay a premium price for a higher quality product.
Market growth strategies
In the early growth stage, the marketing manager may choose from two additional
strategic alternatives: segment expansion (Smith, Ansoff) or brand expansion (Borden,
Ansoff, Kerin and Peterson, 1978). In segment expansion, the strategist adds new
targets (each with their own marketing mixes) to the market segments already served.
A classic example was Toyotas Crown automobile entering the US market in 1956
with a niche strategy a single marketing mix targeted at a single segment
economy conscious sub-compact auto buyers. After gaining a toehold in the market, it
used segment expansion to go beyond its niche, offering brands for multiple segments,
including the sub-compact, compact, mid-size, large size and sports-car segments.
Ultimately targeting across-the-board, it aimed a marketing mix at virtually all auto
and small truck market segments, and even developed the separate Lexus brand to
target the luxury auto segment. Although also a form of segment expansion, it is useful
to separate geographics from other forms of segmentation, such as demographics,
psycho-graphics, sociographics, and behavioral characteristics. In geographic
expansion, firms shift their sights from local, to regional, to national, to
international, to global customer targets. This strategy is increasingly used when
growth slows down as local (or domestic) markets approach maturity.
Similar to expanding segments, another strategic alternative in the growth stage
involves brand expansion. This strategy adds new products or variations to the line,
offering the customer segment more choice, or it provides additional services, such as
delivery or gift wrapping, to offer customers greater value.
During the late growth stage, sales are still growing rapidly, but hit an inflection
point where they shift from increasing at an accelerating rate to increasing at a
de-accelerating rate. In markets growing very rapidly, this shift in the rate of growth
often produces a competitive turbulence (Wasson, 1974), in which an industry
shake-out occurs, because of excess capacity. During this turbulence another strategy
is often called for a differentiation strategy. If not used in late growth, as firms jockey
for advantage, then differentiation is often employed in the maturity stage, discussed
Market maturity strategies
In maturity, sales growth slows, stabilizes and starts to decline. In early maturity, it is
common to employ a maintenance strategy (BCG), where the firm maintains or holds a
stable marketing mix. This is common in oligopoly industries, where a small number
of firms hold a large share of the market. Satisfied with maintaining their market share
and milking profits, these firms prefer not to rock the boat. If firms can preserve a
rough equilibrium, a maintenance strategy could work until sales decline to meet costs.
But maintenance is a rather passive strategy subject to a shake-up by an aggressive
If a firm wants to shuffle the deck, differentiation offers an aggressive but
affordable strategy in maturity (Smith, Porter). It involves a firm using one or more
elements of the marketing mix to enhance purchase value for its customers. For

example, product quality could be improved, price lowered to offer greater economy,
upscale advertising media employed to create more brand prestige or distribution
outlets added to provide greater customer convenience. Although aggressive,
differentiation is far less forceful and far less expensive than a penetration strategy.
Because it involves more marketing mix finesse and need not be expensive, a
differentiation strategy could work at virtually any stage of the life cycle, from growth
into decline.
As a firm moves further along the maturity curve, a harvesting strategy
(Henderson, 1970; Kotler, 1978) becomes an option if not a necessity. Typically, as a
market shifts from early to late maturity, a maintenance strategy evolves into a
harvesting strategy. In harvesting, marketing mix effort is reduced following the
declining sales, and the brand remains a cash cow as long as the cost reductions are
more than (or at least) proportional to the declining sales.
Market decline strategies
At some point the decline in sales approaches and then begins to exceed costs. And not
just accounting costs, there are hidden costs as well; as Kotler (1965, p. 109) observed:
No financial accounting can adequately convey all the hidden costs.

At some point, with declining sales and rising costs, a harvesting strategy becomes
unprofitable and a divesting strategy necessary.
Although if a firm is one of the last men standing it may remain a profitable
survivor (Kotler, 1997) in the market, if most of the competition has dropped out, if
there are a sufficient number of laggards with purchasing power and a desire to buy
lingering in the market, and if the costs of serving these remaining customers stays
low. This is essentially an extreme harvesting strategy. Non-filter cigarettes or double
edge razor blades provide examples of how a few competitors have survived in slowly
declining markets. Eventually, as customers die out, marketing mix expenditures
decline to zero and the brand is removed from the market.
Summary and conclusion
This research has shown that the history can provide a powerful guide to
understanding how simplicity evolves over time into complexity, in general, and how
marketing strategy terms and concepts could arrive at their current state of confusion,
in particular. It also shows how the history of marketing thought can provide a useful
guide for current marketing practice.
The literature was examined to find the original sources of strategic concepts, to
sort-out inconsistent terminology, to integrate isolated strategic approaches, and to
create a broad spectrum framework that could serve as a strategic marketing toolkit
for understanding and applying marketing management strategies. As was shown,
many strategic marketing approaches are interrelated. BCG type growth-share
portfolio matrices are built on SWOT Analysis. Strengths and weaknesses affect a
firms market share, and opportunities and threats affect a market segments growth.
SWOT Analysis, in turn, is built on the marketing mix as a basis for determining
strengths and weaknesses; and customer segments provide a basis for determining
opportunities and threats. Deans penetration strategy is related to the marketing mix,
while his skimming strategy is related to segmentation the two element of marketing





strategy discussed by Oxenfeldt. As well, both growth and generic strategies are
largely based on market segmentation and differentiation as discussed by Smith.
Ansoffs brand development and Porters differentiation strategies are based on the
marketing mix; and Ansoffs market development and Porters industry-wide and
narrow segment strategies are based on segmentation.
In the conceptual framework presented here, two structural approaches to strategy
offer guidance in choosing among strategic alternatives: the PLC ( Jones, 1957;
Forrester, 1959; Wasson, 1974) describing and classifying the stages sales pass
through over time, and SWOT Analysis (Learned et al., 1965) depicting how sales can
be increased by aligning conditions inside and outside the firm. Fundamentally, there
are two main sources of individual marketing strategies: customers and marketing
mixes (Oxenfeldt, 1958). Alternative customer strategies involve either mass
marketing, a single marketing mix for everyone, or targeting segments, with an
individual marketing mix for each segment (Smith, 1956). Alternative segmentation
strategies usually start with targeting a single segment, from a small niche (Kotler,
1980; Porter, 1980) to a large single segment of the market (McCarthy, 1981). A single
segment strategy will sometimes grow into expansion strategies targeting
multiple-segments and could ultimately involve targeting all segments in an
across-the-board strategy (Kotler, 1980; McCarthy, 1981). Alternative marketing mix
strategies include penetration (Dean, 1951; Ansoff, 1965), brand expansion (Ansoff,
1965; Kerin and Peterson, 1978), differentiation (Smith, 1956; Porter, 1980; Kotler, 1980),
maintenance (Henderson, 1976b), harvesting (Henderson, 1976b; Kotler, 1978) and
divesting (Kotler, 1965; Henderson, 1970).
The framework presented here is both conceptual and practical. This framework
provides a researcher a consistent and logically coherent set of marketing strategy
terms and concepts to build upon. This framework, based on the stage of the life cycle
and the alignment of organizational strengths with environmental opportunities,
allows the marketing strategist to choose, from among the various segmentation and
marketing mix strategic alternatives, discussed above, the most effective strategy for
achieving the marketing managers goal(s). Future research should focus on honing
these strategic concepts and developing additional strategies to incorporate into the
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About the author
Eric H. Shaw is Professor of Marketing at Florida Atlantic University. He teaches PhD seminars
in the history of marketing thought and the development of marketing theory, which are also his
major research interests. Other research areas include: marketing strategy, decision making,
conceptualizing and measuring macromarketing system performance, and the study of general
and complex adaptive systems. Dr Shaw has published numerous articles, book chapters and
monographs, and he serves on a number of editorial review boards. Eric H. Shaw can be
contacted at:

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