An Understanding of Marketing Strategy

Article review: Gordon E. Greenley (1989) –  An Understanding of Marketing Strategy

In his study, Greenley (1989) dealt with marketing strategy and tried to develop an understanding regarding marketing strategy by analyzing literature of related concepts. In the study, he followed a three step methodology; in the first two parts, issues about overall strategic planning of the company and which marketing strategy should be developed by the company are analyzed. In the third part, actual marketing strategy (consisting of five parts) is taken into account. In my opinion, the subject of the study can be evaluated as an essential concept in strategic marketing topic and analyzing all related concepts will help to detect the contributions of marketing to strategic management.

Greenley (1989) began his study by explaining different definitions from the literature and found out that there are four major concepts related to marketing strategy. They are: marketing mix, product life cycle, market share and competition, and positioning. He also detected studies from the literature mentioned about special marketing strategies for both international. By Greenley (1989) and most of other scholars, evaluated marketing strategy as an indicator that shows how marketing mix should be used in order to achieve marketing objectives. I totally agree this statement since marketing mix consists of major tools in constructing a marketing strategy. Greenley (1989) criticize ideas that defended marketing strategies should be modified regarding PLC because he claimed that firstly, it is hard to identify the stage of a product within its lifecycle; second, specific strategies for each stage cannot be applied to all products. In my opinion, PLC concept is important because it provides a flexible strategy to the firm, but I also agree with Greenley’s (1989) criticisms since it is hard to determine PLC of each product and it is not possible to apply same strategy for same stage of similar products for different companies. As another concept, Greenley (1989) analyzed studies regarding the relationship between market share and market strategy. He asserted that, marketing strategy is linked to market share by utilization of marketing mix and linking with a pre-determined level of achievement. In my opinion, market share may be evaluated as a critical indicator for a company but it doesn’t guarantee the long term success because it is just a snapshot of today but tomorrow might be different. Furthermore, Greenley (1989) reviewed different definitions about positioning and its relation with market strategy. From these definitions I agree mostly Kotler’s approach because in my opinion positioning is a key issue in market strategy and it differs for markets and products. In other words, for the each market and for each product there can be special positioning strategies. According to Greenley (1989), literature also suggests different strategies for different countries (international markets) and industrial markets. I also agree with this idea since market strategy should be different between different countries because of different cultures. Also it should be different than consumer markets in industrial markets because consumer and industrial markets have totally different characteristics.

Furthermore, Greenley (1989) reviewed strategic planning concept and put forward a set of processes in order to develop level one (corporate mission) and level two (corporate strategy) of the marketing strategy process. According to Greenley (1989), most of the scholars in the literature constructed the same strategic planning process which begins with specifying the corporate mission and its related objectives. In the next step, strengths and weaknesses of both internal and external environment, and gaps between current performance and its objectives are analyzed. After this stage, corporate strategy is constructed. According to the literature, different strategies should be developed in a strategic planning process. Greenley’s (1989) approach seems logical to me since determining the mission should be the first stage in a strategic process and the strategy should be constructed accordingly in order to reach this mission.

Greenley (1989) defined the level three (level one and two was corporate mission and strategy as mentioned in the previous part) as developing the marketing strategy. He believed that level 1 which is corporate mission provides to understand the company’s overall direction that’s why it is the starting point of developing marketing strategy. Moreover, Greenley (1989) asserted that; level 2 which is corporate strategy provides decision making process within marketing strategy via selection of markets, segments, product lines, etc… Finally, as level 3 he claimed that understanding of the actual marketing strategy is the last level of the process which consists of five components; market positioning, product positioning, marketing mix, market entry and timing. In his five component theory, market positioning is evaluated as the first step in establishing a marketing strategy which is followed by product positioning that is essential in order to determine specific products for specific segments. Greenley (1989) claimed that; after range of segments and products are determined, utilization of marketing mix needed as another step in establishing the marketing strategy. Lastly, he believed that, after first three steps; market entry (how company enters, re-enters, positions, re-positions in a selected market) and timing (when other components of marketing strategy should be implemented) are the last two steps in constructing a marketing strategy. In my opinion, Greenley’s (1989) five step marketing strategy approach makes so much sense and covers most of the major steps for determining a marketing strategy. But it shouldn’t be forgotten that; implementing this five step process changes from company to company and from market to market. Within the concepts that are mentioned in the literature taking role in establishing marketing strategy, PLC, market share, industrial markets and international markets are rejected by Greenley (1989). Within these rejected concepts I think that rejecting market share is ok because it is just a snapshot of the current situation but PLC might be evaluated as a parameter that affects marketing strategy because it provides flexibility to the marketing strategy. Greenley (1989) believed that; his five component marketing strategy is suitable for all kind of markets that’s why he rejected industrial and international markets. I partially agree with this idea; Greenley’s (1989) five component marketing strategy contains major processes for every kind of markets but it is still needed to consider the cultural differences between international markets and characteristic differences between consumer-good and industrial markets.

As a conclusion, author dealt with establishing marketing strategy that is useful for any kind of company that is operated in any kind of market. After reviewing literature he constructed a three level process that is consisting of corporate mission, corporate strategy and marketing strategy. Within these processes he divided marketing strategy into five components (market positioning, product positioning, marketing mix, market entry and timing). Overall, his approach can be implemented for most of the companies in many different markets that’s why I believe that Greenley’s (1989) theory is robust. However, in my opinion, contribution of PLC in flexibility of marketing strategy, and differences regarding industrial markets and international markets should be taken into account in establishing a marketing strategy.


Gordon E. Greenley, (1989) “An Understanding of Marketing Strategy”, European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 23 Iss: 8, pp.45 – 58