From STP to ME, Philip Kotler discusses marketing’s changing focus at AMS 2015

Philip Kotler at the ASEAN Marketing Summit 2015

The inaugural ASEAN Marketing Summit, organised by MarkPlus Marketeers in collaboration with the Philip Kotler Center for ASEAN Marketing (PKCAM), concluded last Friday (9th October) in Jakarta. Some of the notable developments included branding of Philip Kotler – the father of modern marketing – as the Ambassador for ‘Wonderful Indonesia’. Irman Gusman, Chairman of the Regional Representative Council of Indonesia (DPD) was also conferred the Country Marketing Award during the event, given by the PKCAM. In his acceptance address, Irman pointed to DPD’s ambition to push branding for comprehensive products and services in Indonesia, all the way to provinces, counties, cities, and districts, in an attempt to become more competitive in the face of ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) 2015.

The marketing summit witnessed participation from local as well as regional ASEAN players, including businesses, marketing enthusiasts, and members from the AMF (Asia Marketing Federation), among others. Against the backdrop of the AEC, Kotler shared his insights on ‘marketing in the new ASEAN landscape,” stressing on the importance of the changing focus of marketing, and how it is central to the behavioural economics today, which is increasingly dominant over classical economic theories in casting consumers as irrational, as opposed to the logical beings who would perfectly know how to maximise their profits.

“Economists never studied how people make decisions, they only study how they should make decisions,” Kotler said, asserting the role of marketing as the ‘engine’ in capitalist economies, by not only helping create demand, but also promoting credit as a means to boost purchasing power among consumers.

An interesting dimension to that is for businesses to more actively target the lower end of the market, which can really open new doors of opportunities, according to Kotler. The concept is all the more relevant for emerging markets such as Indonesia, with a sizeable chunk of the lower middle class.

Further, Kotler also advises businesses to explore their social side more progressively, by creating shared values. In the current landscape, CSR is no longer enough, he thinks, and a smart company must be careful in using resources, create an effort to recycle, and employ ways to use efficient energy – essentially trying to make the world a better place. The concept is also synonymous to Marketing 3.0, which is about making products that aren’t only functional but which touch consumers emotionally and do well for the society in general.

In order to highlight the changing focus of marketing today, Kotler mentioned how ‘co-creation’ was increasingly explored by marketers to better communicate with their customers, so much so, that businesses even allowed customers to co-create products, for instance, Lego, the Danish toymaker which lets customers, mostly children, come up with ideas for the toy sets and even shares sales with the inventor.

At a time when marketing analytics is becoming more scientific, Kotler advises against losing the art side, alongside stressing on the importance of cultural marketing in the ASEAN context. Kotler calls for greater coordinator between the financial and marketing officers in businesses, also calling for chief marketers to play a greater role in determining the company’s future course of action, in relation to products and business strategies. “Who would know better about the market than the marketer himself,” he asks.

In conclusion, Kotler argues that while 1P – promotion only – marketing was dead, and the 4Ps (Product, Price, Place, Promotion) marketing has evolved into a more strategic concept of Segmentation, Marketing and Positioning (STP); the next level is a ‘ME’ approach where ‘Marketing is Everything’ – essentially underlining the importance of marketing as a core business function. 


Priyanka Shekhawat


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