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Brickbats and bouquets for marketing

Philip J. Kitchen (The Business School, University of Salford, UK and ESC Rennes School of Business, France)
Jagdish N. Sheth (Marketing Department, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 14 November 2016




The purpose of this paper is to consider the development and application of marketing theory and practice over time and its current status. The terms “brickbats” and “bouquets” are used as metaphors to extend praise or criticism for marketing. In doing so, the authors draw upon the views of leading theorists over time and apply these in the current environmental context.


The approach adopted is discursive, critical and conceptual.


Following literature review, and drawing upon current examples, marketing as a discipline is subject to both kudos and criticisms. Nonetheless, it is concluded optimistically in that marketing can be an even greater source for societal good. That “goodness” is partly based upon the added impetus of social media adoption and use by consumers, the need for growth and accelerative innovation in the digital age coupled with the democratisation of consumption. Nonetheless, the authors offer the caveat that free competitive markets lead to market failures, and the need for market regulation by governments is becoming more evident.

Research limitations/implications

The implications of the paper are profound. Academics should be concerned in and involved with marketing theory. Questions need to be raised concerning non-robust definitions of marketing and its application. The authors wait for a consumer-led approach to marketing to add depth to the marketing theory.

Practical implications

Marketers need to be made more accountable for their actions. Consumers need to become part of the marketing process. Marketing claims need to be verified by delivered benefits. Companies need to take steps to ensure that the marketing process does not end at purchase. Satisfaction needs to be made manifest. Likewise, dissatisfactions need to be managed well as part of the marketing process.

Social implications

Too much marketing currently is relatively unregulated in the sense that there are so few opportunities to evade its myriad reach and – despite social media – little chance of changing marketing practice for the good of societies. Many criticisms of marketing practice are not being addressed in the literature.


Marketing is a vibrant force in all nations and markets. It is deeply rooted in business practice. It is contemporaneous and relevant. It is global and national. But, it is not entirely all good news. There are caveats and criticisms as well as kudos and praise. While both are addressed here, the topic needs to be considered for marketing and its accompanying theory and practice to change.



Kitchen, P.J. and Sheth, J.N. (2016), "Brickbats and bouquets for marketing", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 50 No. 11, pp. 1906-1923.



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