The contemporary relevance of the traditional marketing concept is a source of continuing debate as marketers question its universal application across all situations. In the past, the emergence of the societal marketing concept and the marketing warfare metaphor represent challenges to the veracity of the marketing concept. It is argued that the continuing relevance of the marketing concept and the emergence of alternative paradigms can be linked to changes in the operating environments of firms or industries. The traditional marketing concept finds application in relatively placid, benign environments which characterised post‐war economies and markets. The emergence of the “societal marketing concept” can be linked to the emergence of turbulent environments which found expression in the consumerist and ecological movements in the 1970s. More recently, a new emphasis has emerged with the growing recognition of the importance of competitive forces in imperfectly competitive markets and the inadequacy of the marketing concept in such environments. These changing operating environments are examined, arguing that the traditional marketing concept is applicable in “placid clustered” environments, as described by Emery and Trist. Finally, the examples of three contemporary Australian industries are discussed to illustrate the relevance of the argument.
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