The way forward in marketing

 Associate Professor Brian Low, Head of Discipline (Marketing), at Monash University Malaysia's School of Business.
Associate Professor Brian Low, Head of Discipline (Marketing), at Monash University Malaysia's School of Business.

The marketing landscape is rapidly changing, locally and globally.

“Markets are maturing, competition is intense, margins are getting tighter, with constant changes in market and regulatory environment. Knowing who your customers are and retaining them have become a lot more difficult. Customers are also more knowledgeable and demanding, constantly seeking for value (which means lowest possible prices) and instant satisfaction,” explains Associate Professor Brian Low, Head of Discipline (Marketing), at Monash University Malaysia's School of Business.

“Despite all these challenges, the basic fundamental concepts and practice of marketing, of delivering sustainable and competitive value to the customer remains the same. What have changed are new challenges, new rules, new dynamics, which come with new business and marketing opportunities,” says Dr Low.

“Doing more with less and smarter is the new business mantra as corporation expects more from marketing!”

Technological disruption is changing the market landscape, for instance through social media, and creating a whole new information and communication dimension to marketing. The available marketing skill sets needs rethinking because the way consumers think and buy is far more complex than before, and because of the fact that anybody can be involved in marketing now.

“I could be marketing products and services without the need for a shop. In the past you would need to submit a proposal and get someone to back you up and have a retail store. Now, you don't need to do all that. Now, you can run it from your own backyard. That makes it interesting, exciting and challenging – depending on where you're standing,” says Dr Low.

He should know.

His past clients from the US, Australia, China and New Zealand have included the Gartner Group, ZhongXing Technology, China Telecom, China Mobile, Hyundai, Nissan Motor, Telstra, and Optus.

Dr Low joined Monash University Malaysia in 2013, having previously served on the faculty at the University of Western Sydney, Australia. Dr Low, whose research interests are in Business to Business (B2B) marketing, customer relationship management, industrial networks and marketing in emerging economies, believes the future of marketing is very promising.

“It's very challenging. The future of marketing will be shaped very much by advances in technology. It's an indispensable part of business and consumption life, to sellers and buyers operating in Business to Consumer (B2C) and B2B markets. The future will also be shaped by the fact that this is an increasingly connected and globalised world. Newer, stronger, politically savvy and marketing driven organisations are making their marks, replacing older, more established ones. What that means is that someone who is trained in marketing has to go beyond just marketing.

“You must be so well equipped that you understand Economics 101, Psychology 101, Politics 101 …. You cannot say that just because you're in marketing you don't need to know about anything else. You can't do that, not in the globalised world where the world is flat,” explains Dr Low.

For Malaysia, engagement with regional and global market community such as the TPPA (Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement) and the AEC (Asian Economic Community) means that Malaysian businesses need to compete on the regional and global platform for a piece of the pie and not be content with the local market.

“The future is very exciting because you're going to deal with a market where you can no longer isolate yourself. You are going to deal with people with cross-border experience, are very knowledgeable, and who are capable of making decisions almost instantaneously through technology empowerment.”

“You're going to deal with markets that are constantly changing and markets that are regulated now are increasingly being liberated and privatised,” explains Dr Low. As a result, corporations’ expectations from marketing will change. Existing marketing practices will come under the microscope. New relevant knowledge will be required.

In B2B marketing, that includes better understanding of Organisational Buying Behavior, Managing for Profit (not just sales), and increasing emphasis being placed on marketing value and solutions, and not competing merely on product features and functionalities.

With these exciting changes and challenges on the horizon, it is important that Monash University Malaysia produces graduates who can think analytically, strategically and creatively beyond the traditional boundaries and practices of marketing.

According to Dr Low, the industry wants graduates who could communicate their ideas and strategies, and are also good with numbers. They want graduates who appreciate the importance of business relationship and good insights into consumer behaviour. They want graduates that are innovative and are not risk averse, and who appreciate the importance of making use of data to retain and acquire new customers.

“Getting a job is difficult but not impossible. Staying in the job is tougher, and your ability to stay in a job depends on your ability to think critically, your ability to rationalise and your ability to capture things that other people don't see. That is something that you don't learn in black and white, and I think that is important,” says Dr Low.

He believes the key to teaching and research excellence is finding the right people to impart knowledge, not just from books, but also from industry experience complemented by familiarity with the latest research findings and developments in academia.

Dr Low is a respected member of the international marketing community. The results of this work have been published in the Journal of Business Research, Industrial Marketing Management, Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing, Journal of Asia Pacific Research and two special issues. He is an editorial Board member of Industrial Marketing Management, Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing, and Journal of Business Market Management.

For more information on the programs offered at the School of Business, Monash University Malaysia, please visit http://www.buseco.monash.edu.my/.