Prof Abraham Koshy with Dr Philip Kotler (Source: www.akoshy.in)
Philip Kotler's book 'Marketing Management', considered to be the bible of marketing for anyone studying an MBA, was launched in its 14th South Asian edition on Wednesday with updated content and case studies themed around 'customer value' and covering rural marketing and digital marketing. PaGaLGuY did a quick interview with one of the co-authors of the South Asian edition Prof Abraham Koshy of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad (the other one being Prof Mithileshwar Jha of IIM Bangalore) to learn about the evolution of the book's local edition.
Why is there a separate South Asian edition of this book?
This is not the first South Asian edition, it was launched for the first time back in 2006. This is a foundation book for anyone learning marketing, and not an advanced level book meant for those who are just starting out to learn it. Marketing across the world follows largely the same conceptual framework. But if these frameworks are not explained contextually, then students wouldn’t understand them. If they are explained using North American brands, then students will not relate to the material. So launching a South Asian edition is like customisation of the book for the local audience.
How is marketing in South Asia different compared to the rest of the world?
Marketing across the world follows a universal framework. But a few things are different. For example, rural marketing is not relevant in America. Other things such as the business environment and regulatory frameworks too are different here, and all these form the Indian context of marketing.
What is 'customer value' and why did you choose it as the theme for this edition?
In simple terms, customer value is all that which is considered as important by customers in a product or a service. Take ice cream for example. Whether customers consider its brand, or the packaging, the retail environment or the variety as more important, forms its customer value.
We took this as the theme of this edition because the contemporary business environment considers customer value as important. It is believed that if customers get value then that leads to higher shareholder value too.
How involved is Dr Philip Kotler in the creation of the South Asian edition?
He is very involved and takes great interest in every change we make in the book. We are constantly in touch with him over email, to which he always replies promptly. I even met him this very March at a conference. He doesn’t outsource any part of working on the South Asian edition to anyone else or anything like that. He is as involved as any author would be.
Which marketing successes in India in recent times would you consider as significant?
There are many. The Vodafone Zoozoo and the Airtel ‘Har friend zaroori hota hai’ campaigns were significant examples of good communication strategy. Then Tata Docomo’s per-second pricing was a good example of pricing strategy. Tata Nano was a great example of how an innovative product resulted in significant process innovations that went into the design and production of the vehicle at the backend. In many ways, those process innovations were more innovative than the product itself.
Do you follow how India’s b-schools market themselves to students? Do you think they are they doing it right?
I don’t follow this sector much, you probably know more about it than me. But I see the b-school market in a shakeout phase right now than in the boom phase. There is too much of a crowd of imitators with very few frontrunners, like in a marathon race. Very few b-schools try to differentiate themselves from others. Some are differentiating themselves by using strategies like launching news and business magazines, but they have launched so many magazines now that it has stopped making any sense or helping that differentiation.
What about the IIMs? While on one hand an IIM professor contributes to a top marketing book, the IIMs themselves are loath to communicating with applicants about the value of their flagship programmes, and seem to view marketing themselves with a disdainful eye. Comments?
I don’t think there is any disdain for marketing the PGP within the IIM faculty. It’s just that there is such an over-demand for the PGP that advertising the programme to increase demand will not make any more people apply to it. It will be a waste of resources. It is not that the IIMs don’t advertise. The year that we launched the one-year PGPX programme, we advertised in both Indian and international media with advertisements having taglines such as “It takes Fortune 500 companies years to make it, but at IIM-A we take just one,” or “A country gets invaded for centuries. There must be a reason for it,” or “What would you like to learn from a country that gave the world Zero?” A professional agency was employed by us to write this advertising copy. So I don't believe that the IIMs are averse to advertising their own offerings.