In Search of a New Logic for Marketing – Foundations of Contemporary Theory

Javier Reynoso (Services Management Research and Education Group,EGADE – ITESM, Mexico)

International Journal of Service Industry Management

ISSN: 0956-4233

Article publication date: 8 August 2008



Reynoso, J. (2008), "In Search of a New Logic for Marketing – Foundations of Contemporary Theory", International Journal of Service Industry Management, Vol. 19 No. 4, pp. 537-538.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Over the last 30 years, the study of services has been particularly shaped and influenced by research findings, conceptual frameworks and business models developed by academics from the so‐called Nordic School of Marketing Thought. Through the years, such contributions have helped to build the academic field known today as service marketing and management. Undoubtedly, Christian Grönroos has been one of the leading thinkers of this Nordic perspective in the field of service research. In this book, Christian Grönroos provides a collection of some of his seminal production originally published between 1978 and 2006 related to service marketing and relationship marketing. The book starts with an interesting introduction in which the author takes a quick travel through time between the mid 1970s and early 1980s, to explain how he got initially interested and began his research in the marketing of services, at the same time that comparatively explains the essence of the Nordic School approach to studying services which started in those first years. The introductory part of the book is extended to present a brief critique of the marketing academic field, claiming the discipline is in crisis as it has been narrowly focused and therefore is too functional and operational rather than strategic and innovative.

In part one of the book, Christian Grönroos includes four of his articles related to service marketing. These publications could be seen as four blocks for theory building on services. Initially, the need for adequate theory about service marketing and the discussion of some key aspects for service companies to adequately orient their marketing strategies is provided. The need for a service‐oriented approach for marketing of services is emphasized. Following this need, foundations of an applied service marketing theory are laid out. The analysis and discussion of some characteristics of services, initial concepts of the quality of a service and the interactive nature of services lead to the introduction of an initial service marketing model. Then, a more detailed service quality model is developed and its implications for marketing are discussed. Concluding this part, a discussion comparing the differences between a product‐oriented perspective and a service‐oriented perspective is presented to emphasize the fact that in the case of services, “the missing product” reflects the need to understand the perceived quality of a service, as a consequence of the differences of both the consumption process and its results. This discussion leads to the development of a perceived service quality model.

Part two includes four publications on relationship marketing. The importance of having a relationship approach to marketing is initially addressed on the light of buyer‐seller interfaces, establishing the need to break down organizational barriers to create a service culture among different areas. The need for an internal marketing approach is emphasized. This part of the book then calls to create a relationship marketing paradigm, criticizing the traditional marketing mix, and calling for a new approach, recognizing the interactive process and network nature of services. The development of the relationship marketing concept is discussed as a systems‐oriented way of managing customer relationships. Once the relationship marketing paradigm is defined, eight viewpoints are highlighted which present key challenges for marketing and the organization. Finally, some strategic processes of relationship marketing are detailed. The communication, interaction and value processes are discussed as the main elements of this marketing paradigm.

As a natural consequence of these earlier contributions on service and relationship marketing, Christian Grönroos takes the discussion towards a new logic for marketing. The paper included in part three discusses and compares the notion of service logic from the Nordic School with that from Vargo and Lusch, concluding that both perspectives have more similarities than differences. Service logic is discussed as compared with goods logic, emphasizing the nature of value‐in‐use rather than in the exchange. The adoption of service logic for marketing is called as a result of the extended consumption concept, making the service logic dominant in both service and manufacturing companies.

After summarizing the key arguments presented throughout the book, Christian Grönroos concludes with four sets of propositions for the development of a contemporary marketing theory, based on the search of a new logic for marketing.

Overall, the book is certainly a very useful reference in recent service literature. On one hand, it provides a good overview of some of the seminal contributions made by Christian Grönroos to the Nordic School of thought which helped to shape the service academic field. On the other hand, these contributions remind the reader that the discussion which is taking place in the literature today about the need and importance of a service logic is not new. This discussion, though, is framed in the marketing arena, and in the same way that service research originally started within marketing and later extended throughout the organization, the search for a new logic in marketing soon could become the search for a new logic in business management as a whole.

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