Identifying internet marketing principles relevant to generic marketers
Bevan-Dye, Ayesha Lian
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To deliver the type of marketing graduate that meets industry demand necessitates that marketing curricula content be continuously updated to keep pace with the dynamic marketing environment. One of the major trends influencing the twenty-first century marketing environment is the advent of the Internet and substantial growth in Internet usage and Internet-based commerce. Not only is the Internet driving major marketing environmental change, it is also emerging as a new marketing tool of significant potential. The widespread implications of the Internet to marketing is making it increasingly necessary for general marketing practitioners, even those not actively engaged in Internet-based commerce, to be equipped with an understanding of Internet marketing principles. For marketing education to remain relevant in the twenty-first century, it is essential that Internet marketing content elements be included in undergraduate generic marketing curricula. The first step in this process, and the one addressed by this study, is to identify and reach consensus on which Internet marketing content elements are relevant to generic undergraduate marketing students. The primary purpose of this study was to develop an empirically derived inventory of Internet marketing content elements relevant for inclusion in generic undergraduate marketing programmes, based upon both marketing academic and marketing practitioner perspectives. Five focal questions were asked and answered by the study. *Which Internet-driven marketing environmental changes do marketing academics consider relevant to generic undergraduate marketing students? *Which principles guiding the use of Internet as a marketing tool do marketing academics consider relevant to generic undergraduate marketing students? *What do marketing academics consider to be the most suitable approach to implementing Internet marketing principles within higher education undergraduate business programmes? *What do marketing academics consider to be the relevant Internet marketing learning outcomes for generic marketing students at undergraduate level? *Do marketing practitioners hold the same opinion as marketing academics regarding research questions one, two, three and four? For the purpose of this study, research was undertaken amongst two groups of respondents. Firstly, a census of the marketing faculties/departments of each of South Africa's public higher education institutions was taken at the end of 2004. Secondly, a non-probability, judgement sample of marketing practitioners, employed in those companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), that engage in marketing activities and which are operational in the South African market was taken at the start of 2005. The questionnaire requested respondents in both samples to indicate the relevance of five identified Internet-driven marketing environmental changes and twenty-four identified principles guiding the use of the Internet as a marketing tool to generic undergraduate marketing students. Further, both samples were requested to select the approach they judged to be the most suitable in implementing Internet marketing . principles within undergraduate business programmes. Respondents in both samples were also requested to indicate which Internet marketing learning outcomes they believed to be relevant to generic undergraduate marketing students. In addition, both samples were asked to provide certain demographical data. The findings indicate that both the Internet-driven marketing environmental change's construct and the principles guiding the use of the Internet as a marketing tool construct to be relevant to generic undergraduate marketing students. The findings further suggest that Internet marketing content elements should be integrated into existing marketing subject offerings. Regarding the learning outcomes, the findings indicate descriptive Internet marketing principles to be the overriding learning outcome. In addition, there was a high convergence between the attitudes of marketing practitioners and the attitudes of marketing academics regarding the relevance of Internet marketing content elements to generic undergraduate marketing students, as well as the selected implementation method and suggested learning outcomes. This study serves to advance generic undergraduate marketing education by identifying a comprehensive inventory of Internet marketing content elements within the framework of general marketing theory. The study offers a balanced view in that it incorporates the opinions of both marketing academics and marketing practitioners. The inventory of Internet marketing content elements, together with the suggested implementation method and learning outcomes, can be used as a platform to guide the structured integration of these elements into generic undergraduate marketing programmes.
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