An exploration of marketing tactics for turbulent environments

Roger B. Mason (Department of Marketing, University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, UK Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa)
Gavin Staude (Rhodes Investec Business School, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa)

Industrial Management & Data Systems

ISSN: 0263-5577

Publication date: 13 March 2009



The purpose of this paper is to propose that the choice of marketing tactics is influenced by the company's external environment. It aims to illustrate the marketing tactics suggested for a complex, turbulent environment, when marketing and the environment are viewed through a complexity lens.


A marketing mix model, derived from complexity literature, was assessed via a multiple case study to identify the type of marketing mix suggested for a complex, turbulent environment. The study was exploratory, using in‐depth interviews with two companies in the IT industry.


The results tentatively confirmed that the more successful company used a destabilizing marketing mix, and suggest that using complexity theory to develop marketing tactics could be helpful in turbulent environments.

Research limitations/implications

The findings are limited by the study's exploratory, qualitative nature and the small sample. Generalizing should be done with care and therefore further research with larger samples and in different environments is recommended.

Practical implications

The paper will benefit marketers by emphasizing a new way to consider future marketing activities of their companies. The model can assist marketers to identify the tactics to use, dependent on the nature of their environment.


Most work on complexity in marketing has concentrated on strategy, with little emphasis on tactics and the marketing mix. Therefore, the paper is an important contribution to the understanding of marketing mix choices, of interest to both practising marketers and marketing academics.



Mason, R.B. and Staude, G. (2009), "An exploration of marketing tactics for turbulent environments", Industrial Management & Data Systems, Vol. 109 No. 2, pp. 173-190.

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Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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