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Rethinking Marketing: Ajay Kohli

Ajay K. Kohli

Ajay Kohli
Georgia Tech

What is a better world? A better world may be construed as one in which suppliers and customers/consumers (1) make better decisions, are healthier, and have a better quality of life, and (2) reduce waste and use assets more efficiently. 

What is better marketing for a better world? First, it may be construed as targeting currently unserved or underserved customers/consumers and developing underprivileged collaborators such as new channel partners. 

Second, BMBW may be viewed as implementing a marketing mix (4Ps) aimed at accomplishing the above-noted two characteristics of a “better world.” This lens suggests several research ideas: 


To help reduce waste, research could examine organizational factors that lead to marketing spending spillovers to non-target customers/consumers. To improve asset utilization, research could identify factors that lead consumers and firms to contribute their assets to the sharing economy, and/or to use others’ assets in the sharing economy. 

Better social marketing (marketing of ideas related to healthful living, pollution reduction, and so on) could help improve consumers’ quality of life. Research could examine the relative effectiveness of alternative messaging channels across different segments. For example, microfinancing works in part by leveraging peer pressure to assure loan repayments. Are similar mechanisms more effective in encouraging people to adopt healthier practices? Are digital devices that deliver messages at the “moment of truth” more effective than other forms of messaging? 

Research that might identify signals or cues of fake information, especially in cyberspace, could help customers/consumers make better decisions, and improve their quality of life. 

We know that negative advertising works, unfortunately. However, can we encourage more positive advertising by understanding conditions under which promotion-focused messaging is more effective? Can we identify individual, organizational, and market factors that discourage salespeople to be dishonest with customers?

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Ajay K. Kohli is Regents Professor, Gary T. and Elizabeth R. Jones Chair and Professor of Marketing, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA.