Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Looking at some news over the last days, one might realize that the concept of “Volatility” has reached a new height of popularity. The stock market shows a daily up and down of stock value as rarely before. The polls for the upcoming election show a dramatic move over the last three or four weeks than is rather unusual. Sarah Palin’s perception has changed from the savior of John McCain’s campaign to a negative asset within a few weeks. And some consumer goods companies report a dramatic shift of consumer’s purchase behavior, ranging from sometimes up to 50% decline over the previous year. 

What’s happening? Voters, Stock Holders, and Consumers are changing their minds and their behavior in such a rapid manner that is unprecedented. People seem to become more uprooted and undecided. The underlying elements of this change are:

  • Accelerated Speed of any shared information leading to a more rapid herd behavior
  • Overall Lost of Trust in and Loyalty to most institutions and companies
  • Decline of behavioral rituals that gives a structural foundation to people’s lives 

This reflects a huge challenge for marketers. Successful marketing is becoming a more and more a vast changing and adapting discipline that barely keep us with fast changing sentiments of consumers. It is getting more difficult to maintain a long-term and sustainable marketing advantage. One might celebrate last week’s successful marketing while already thinking of what to launch next week. 

We will be obligated to find a few new marketing rules in this new society and consumer world of volatility. The previous rules of loyalty and highly established behavioral patterns are disappearing. 

Monday, October 20, 2008

ArtScience II

Just posted a few more thoughts on ArtScience on my company's corporate blog. Check out at

Monday, October 13, 2008

Progress in Marketing?

Most disciplines like to talk about the progress that their discourse has taken over a long period of time, from biology to politics to education. Most disciplines that move between academics and commercial application are very focused on progressing its insights, theories, and applications.

The discipline marketing seems to be a very different animal, not too many marketers talk about progress.It might be helpful to separate three different forms within the marketing discipline:

  •  The academic world of marketing
  •  The commercial word of marketing
  •  The output of marketing 

First, marketing academics would claim that its discipline made significant advancements over the last decades. Probably rightful so, we have seen emerging the theory of brands, the deeper understanding of consumers, the theory and practice of pricing, the more insightful analysis of the retail space, etc. Academics continue to make the marketing discipline more rigorous, more insightful and more empirically based. 

Second, it’s much more difficult to assess any progress in the commercial world of marketing. The industry itself has grown substantially over the last decades and with this financial growth its sophistication, too. But it would be far fetched to identify any substantial progress beyond strong diversification and expansion. The emergence of more and more channels and targeted marketing programs are less about progress, and more about maximizing profits in a capitalist society. 

Third, the output of marketing: From creative to pricing to new products. I would argue that it is inappropriate to talk about progress. The consumer facing output of marketing is closer linked to art objects, though with commercial intent. No one would talk about progress in art over the last decades or centuries. Modern art objects have incorporated older art objects but there has not been a objective degree of progress. It’s not about progress towards any particular point but understanding, learning, “borrowing”, and reassembling of previous art forms and expressions into something new and unique. Or sometimes it is about rejecting the past and its norms but always with full understanding of the past. 

Unfortunately I have too often observed that there is ignorance within the marketing community towards previous marketing expressions and work. A lot of marketers are less educated and not alt all interested in understanding the previous generation of marketing work. While new marketing ideas should be grounded in the work of previous marketers, they mostly celebrate its historical ignorance. It’s not about a plea for progress in marketing but an urge to be smart and historically grounded in our marketing discipline.

Friday, October 10, 2008


I just started the book “ArtScience –Creativity in the post-Google Generation” by David Edwards. It is based on the theory that a lot of innovations are generated in the intersection of art and science. Edwards started “Le Laboratoire”, a so called artscience center in Paris. I really like the concept that there is a small tribe of artscientists who are pushing the limits of art and science into a new discipline. I recommend reading it, it's very applicable for our business.