Soon we will see the launch of a new Japanese Marketing History Journal. This is greatly anticipated and overdue. Japan has such a long history of commerce and innovation. Some of the oldest lasting companies in the world are found in Japan. During my 1970 speaking engagements in Japan, I was dazzled to see the fine Japanese domestic and export products. I would buy some products - cameras, watches - and bring them back to the U.S. to the astonishment of my friends and family. In the 1980s, I was captivated by Japan's superior brands in cameras, electronics, watches, automobiles, motorcycles, and many other products. Two of us ended up publishing, “The World's Champion Marketers: The Japanese,” in the 1982 Journal of Business Strategy. We owe to Japan such business concepts as zero defects, kaizen, just-in-time manufacturing, and others. The new journal will give its readers a deep historical perspective on Japan's fascinating marketing history.
The nature, size, and use of a product, every possible channel for distribution, messages and media, and price and payment―all have changed. The decades long consumer preference for self-selection, choice, even product and service creation developed a stronger and more persistent consumer voice. Domestic competition becomes the exception rather than the norm as national economies intertwine. Regulators struggle to respond to changing conditions. The pace and breadth of change inclines contemporary business leaders, business writers, and many academics to research that which predicts rather than reflect upon past practices and we are poorer for it.
This paper outlines seven reasons for and the very real benefits of studying marketing history. More reasons likely exist but these seven demonstrate the enduring value of conducting historical research in marketing. Marketing history researchers can seek to: 1) understand the dynamism of long-term change, 2) learn from natural experiments, 3) build and disseminate knowledge, 4) document the macro impact of marketing, 5) recognize the power of individual contributions, 6) study the evolving role of technology, and 7) document the moral compass of the discipline. The following few examples from existing historical research in marketing illustrate just some of the important contributions made and yet to be made:
1) Long-term studies document the interplay of relationship dependency and environmental uncertainty in altering the business partnerships.
2) Data on conditions pre- and post-external shocks such as depression, war, and inflation demonstrate the long-term impact on markets and marketing behaviors.
3) The intended and unintended consequences of government regulation on competition and consumer protection become more clear through an historical lens.
Marketing success does not come just from innovation, quick reactions to a changing environment, inspirational leadership, and effective implementation. It also comes from embracing uncertainty, knowing what to discard and what to keep. Only an historical lens can bring into focus the issues that allowed companies to survive and grow. Historical research holds great potential for marketing scholars and the discipline. The study of marketing history can confirm Montaigne's promise of historical research “bearing fruit beyond price.”
This short paper suggests that historical research offers us an opportunity to ‘observe’ customers and provides a context to understand and reflect on contemporary marketing. It considers the role of historical research in marketing through two projects. The first highlights the impact of legislation and changing demographic and lifestyle of consumers that shaped the unique character of the modern Japanese konbini and notes the limited historical account of the customer experience or store employees. The success of the Japanese convenience store owes much to this history. The second focuses on the visual dimension and the depiction of British family life in Good Housekeeping magazine advertising over a sixty-year period. It highlights not only what brands were being targetted at British families during this period but looks at how the family unit was portrayed by commercial advertisers in this popular magazine. In post-war Britain advertising featured images of the patriarchal nuclear family with a number of campaigns focused on mothers and children at home. While advertisments for new kitchen equipment on the pages of Good Housekeeping in the 1950's offered a release from the drudgery of domestic work women remained responsible for the ‘housework’ and there was little to challenge this idea. Magazine advertising offers an insight into how family life was depicted in this post war period and reminds us of the debate around the unintended consequences of this promotional activity. Historical perspectives add context and often reflect broader social, cultural, technological and legislative changes that shape our consumption practices. Only in looking to the past can we really understand the present.
In this paper, a contradiction that has developed between the key economic institution of modernity, the market, and its institutionalized practices, marketing, is explored. This paper makes observations beyond earlier discussions of this contradiction based on the history of perspectival developments in the orientations of the discipline and in marketing practices. Specifically, separation of marketing practice from consumers resulting in its conceptualization as a provisional set of activities, and the turn from a focus on needs to a focus on exchange resulting in an emphasis on the health of the market rather than on the health of the people are articulated. It is observed that these developments in marketing orientations signal a reversal of ends and means. It is argued that the modern market, its growth and prosperity, which was originally conceptualized as a means, as one institution to serve humanity's needs, is now an end, and that human beings are now in the service of the economic goals of the market. Based on these observations, the paper proposes that to develop solutions for the problems arising from the historical growth of the marketing discipline and practices in modernity, a new perspective needs to be adopted, one that conceptualizes marketing as cultural practices embedded in communities and involving consumers and organizations as partners in being mutually involved in the construction and fulfillment of human desires.
Conceptual models, such as the wheel of retailing and others, have been important in framing many studies of retail history and change. Common to all these models have been two assumptions - sometimes explicit but always implicit. The assumptions are, first, that the dominant retail format is a ‘shop’ of some type, and secondly, space and place are fundamental factors for retailer strategy and management. Significant changes in society linked to new technologies have had a profound influence on consumers, retailing and retailers such that the ‘shop’ is less dominant and the power of space and place in retailing are diminished. The short paper seeks to open discussion on what these changes mean for the long established conceptual models of retail change. Do these models remain valuable as a frame for understanding current changes in retailing, or are new conceptual models required for exploring change in a world of a-spatial and digitally constructed retailing?
This article explores the diffusion of American retailing innovation in Great Britain with a case study of F.W. Woolworth & Co. from its foundation in 1909 to its divestment by its American parent company in 1982.
Initially Woolworth's British subsidiary introduced a retail format modelled on that of its American parent company, cheap high quality variety merchandise with three fixed prices, one, three and six pence. The management team was led by American executives and Woolworth family members together with Britons recruited by the founder, Frank Winfield Woolworth. As Woolworth's British subsidiary steadily increased the number of stores during its first two decades, the Americans were succeeded by Britons. Woolworth's American retail format proved to be very successful in Britain until the end of the 1930s. However, Woolworth's retail format became unsustainable in Britain during the 1940s as a result of wartime inflation followed by the increase of the rate of purchase tax on some of its merchandise. By the early 1950s fixed prices had been abandoned.
During the subsidiary's final three decades it ceased to be dynamic because it was led by a succession of conservative British managers who were reluctant to adapt to the changing British and international retail environment. During the early post-war period they resisted the adoption of self-service retailing which had been embraced by its American parent company. Later during the 1960s and 1970s the subsidiary's British managers resisted and obstructed the diffusion from America to Britain of the parent company's out-of-town discount department store format, Woolco.
The article observes the history of the development of a Japanese business group that started as an arm store―Morimura's family business and became a vertically integrated empire with a wide range of services and goods produced by innovative technology-known both in Japan and abroad as TOTO Group and Noritake. In contrast, being influenced by the philosophers of the Meiji Era like Yukichi Fukuzawa and keeping high ethical standards, Morimura's company has come a long way from selling arms, producing and selling armor for the army's heavy cavalry, investing in unprofitable and bankrupt businesses, been tailoring western clothes, exporting porcelain and creating a business branch in the US, building new factories and expanding on the local market and involving high technology and never giving up. Despite all the historical transformations that Japan has undergone, such as restoration, militarization, war, demilitarization, and occupation, the company created by Ichizaemon Morimura was able to preserve and develop its business significantly, keeping following the consumer needs and high-quality standards. The business also cared for the social needs and social improvement since Meiji and Taisho periods, focusing on the social problems of the city: labor, housing, and social hygiene.
The story behind the business Ichizaemon Morimura built is an incredible example of curiosity and adaptability to market, social and historical changes, and consumer needs. This story can motivate many entrepreneurs around the globe during the time of transformation.
This article was developed especially for the inaugural issue of the new journal ‘Japan Marketing History Review’. The senior author of this article, Nikhilesh Dholakia (Nik) , was invited in 1992 to teach at Chuo Daigaku - indeed, the first foreign professor that Chuo invited to teach a course in English language. In addition to an undergraduate course, Nik also offered a postgraduate seminar. Professor Kazuo Usui (Kaz) - even though a faculty member at Saitama University with a part-time faculty affiliation at Chuo University - joined Nik's postgraduate seminar as a participant. The rest, as they say, is history - a deep friendship between Nik and Kaz, extending to the families, has evolved; and this article is a tribute to this relationship.
In this paper, the authors use the phraseology of the ‘Asiatic Mode’, of Karl Marx, in a playful mode to reflect on the Asiatic Mode of Marketing. The article offers a very brief review of the ‘Asiatic Mode of Production’ ideas of Marx, including a summary of the critique of these ideas. What becomes apparent is that, with the passage of time, Marx was willing to evolve and adapt his ideas - moving from a somewhat admiring view of colonial influence on Asian nations to a more balanced view of the predations of colonial rule.
In the discipline of marketing, with some occasional exceptions, the scholars remain mired in an ‘Asiatic Mode’ of thinking: The West is Best; and the Rest better learn from the West. Practitioners also remain in this mode, though they sometimes venture forth with oft-innovative non-western practices; and even occasionally back-influence the marketing practices of the West.
In this paper, the authors offer their views of marketing histories of the two Asian countries of origin of the authors - India and Korea. Then they turn to a general critique of the way marketing history is studied - or, in many cases, neglected - in Asian settings. A critical scholarly project for the future, the authors believe, is to break out of the ‘gauze of Otherness’ that characterizes western and even Asian views of Asia. It is time to move to (to create) a world where the West is just a region, in the same way Asia or Africa or Latin America are regions; the West becoming co-equal to them.
Bygone events and noteworthy individuals have long been used to market goods, services, places, people, and ideas. However, the stories these campaigns tell may neglect and sometimes even reject scholarly accounts of history. Instead, they may embody a narrative of heritage, which tends to be a rather selective, romanticized, and self-serving view of the past. Though the marketing of heritage can be relatively innocuous in the case of brands or stores, at a macro level it may become highly toxic when it supports socially undesirable attitudes and behaviors and fosters partisan politics. Serious historical research grounded in diverse perspectives and data sources is important for challenging erroneous heritage marketing and mitigating its undesirable consequences. This commentary explores the topic of history and heritage with three instances from the United States - the Texas Creation Myth, the Lost Cause of the Confederacy, and the Winning of the West. Similar tensions with fact-based history also apply to many other heritage marketing movements worldwide.
The study of the history of retailing and marketing is an expanding one. Corporate and consumption studies of many eras and in many countries have been developed and much new work is underway. Curiously though, the “voice” of the consumer, especially around the act of shopping is often absent or muted. Instead the focus tends to be on the business and corporate narrative on the one hand and the consumption and socio-cultural product on the other. This is not a new observation and there have been calls for, and some papers using various consumer artefacts and records arounds shopping. This paper considers the use of a serendipitous donation of a long-run (1977-1999) series of shopping diaries recording one individual's every shopping trip and retail purchase over this period. Considering this extensive record suggests that the consumer voice is needed in historical studies of retailing and consumption. The paper outlines the need for, and the possibilities and benefits of, using such personal shopping artefacts in retail historical research.
This article argues the gift as an ineluctable agent of cultural diffusion. The power that the gift exercises can be robust and pervasive; or it can be elusive and transient. Our research question is, what is the role of aesthetics and ideology employed by the giver or its intermediaries, including marketers, for the consequent adaptation of cultural diffusion? We examine four cases in Japan's history when Japan had cultural exchanges with its Others: 1) gifts from China (Tang dynasty) in the tribute system (630-864), 2) gifts of European missionaries to Japan and souvenirs of Europe acquired by Japanese emissaries to Europe (1549 to 1590), 3) souvenirs of Japan acquired by Europeans who visited Japan from the late Edo to Meiji eras (1853 to 1890); and 4) seasonal gifts between Japanese consumers (primarily for o-chugen and o-seibo) through which foreign products were diffused. We conclude that it is the thought (ideology) that counts in cultural diffusion and adaptation. Marketing, in contrast, as the instigator of commercialized gift rituals, fueled the importation of foreign gift rituals as well as foreign goods by promoting new traditions such as Christmas and Valentine's Day giving. We reflect on cultural contagion from past marketing efforts so that we may find ways to use marketing more positively, such as in nourishing more prosocial giving, for a better sustainable future. We conclude with contributions of the present study to marketing history.