"Marketing's going bad." Philip Kotler himself is the one who makes this observation*, recalling that "75% of new products, services or business start-ups are doomed to failure" because of manifest errors in marketing strategy. Matt Haig has compiled a tasty compilation of it in his book 100 big flops of the big brands (Dunod, 2011). An example? Coca Cola launches its New Coke after millions of dollars invested in research, both on consumer expectations and better price/distribution positioning. For a catastrophic result - the product disappears in three months.
But Coca Cola is far from being an isolated case. The frequency and variety of failures are so numerous, from failed launches to disappointing campaigns, that the expression "it's marketing" has taken on a pejorative connotation - it's false, it's artificial. This situation can only be explained by a failure of the model traditionally used to design these strategies.
Why? The traditional marketing model was created at a time when we were convinced that the behaviour of decision-makers or consumers could be modelled, that they were as predictable as the calculation of a trajectory. Given what my market research has revealed to me about the behaviour of my targets, if I sell my product A at such a price via such a network, I will make such a turnover.
* The 10 Deadly Sins in Marketing, Maxima Publishing, 2007.
… to a new model inspired by the physical sciences
Indeed, marketing "targets" are human beings. Their behaviour is not always logical. It is even less and less so because the environment is increasingly complex, changing and multiform. Today, a decision maker can receive conflicting stimuli (advertising messages, a friend's commentary, an internal rating in a company) that make him change his mind several times in an instant.
More importantly, the very notion of target becomes blurred. The under-50 housewife is increasingly taking the advice of her children, themselves influenced by their Facebook community. Similarly in B2B, few buyers are nowadays acting independently of their environment (employees, colleagues, consultants...). This distorts the overly simple assumptions of the traditional marketing model, which is unable to translate market irrationality as a real component of business.
There is an area of knowledge that has troubling similarities with this situation. This is the field of the physical sciences. And indeed, to look at it carefully, the behaviour of the B2C consumer or the B2B decision maker is strangely similar to that of a particle in the world of the infinitely small.