Over the past decade, major transformations have occurred, leading global industries to a fifth industrial revolution (Kumar 2021). This revolution has also led to digital transformation for marketers, called “Marketing 5.0,” resulting in firms rethinking their investment strategies in innovative products and services as well as finding news ways of capturing markets and attracting customers (Verhoef et al. 2021). The transformative nature of market forces requires further research by marketing scholars on firms’ consideration and/or adoption of transformative marketing approaches, defined as “the confluence of a firm’s marketing activities, concepts, metrics, strategies and programs that are in response to marketplace changes and future trends to leapfrog customers with superior value offerings over competition in exchange for profits for the firm and benefits to all stakeholders” (Kumar 2018, p. 2)
In other words, transformation takes into consideration changes in the immediate business environment. While external or publicly available information like financial reports and news releases can provide useful insights into a company, deeper meaning of transformative changes is gleaned from more profound and impactful issues such as changes in society, emergence of new-age technologies, and availability of structured and unstructured data. Indeed, Kumar (2018) suggests that ongoing changes among consumers and markets, coupled with changes in the marketing departments/role/function (in organizations), would confluently lead to business transformations.
Due to recent market disruptive events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, transformations in marketing practice are becoming more common. However, research into transformative marketing practices of multinational enterprises (MNEs) is in its infancy (Miklosik and Evans 2020). Marketing is a fundamental element of a firm’s strategy that resides at the nexus between a firm and its market; it evolves along with the dynamism of the marketplace in which it operates (Wichmann et al. 2021). Transformations have led to ongoing and intensifying evolutions in the global marketplace, including shifts in consumers’ technology consumption (Arora et al. 2020). As a result, scholars have asserted that a digital customer orientation would be required for firms to create a digital ecosystem to serve consumers’ evolving needs effectively (Kopalle, Kumar, and Subramaniam 2020).
Meanwhile, international business scholars have asserted that the disruptions such as the pandemic will lead to a greater globalization of the world economy (Contractor 2021). As markets change, geographical boundaries become increasingly blurred; at the same time, advances in technology have begun to integrate markets. Consequently, MNEs can no longer rely on location as a competitive advantage as they compete globally. Similarly, with the emergence of a class of global consumers, firms with a wide selection of offerings that meet their global customers’ needs can lessen the impact of competition by differentiating their product offerings in terms of breadth and depth. However, differentiating products and services can be challenging due to evolving customers’ needs and habits during market disruptions (Knowles et al. 2020).
Country of origin is another potential stream to examine the efficacy of the transformative marketing approaches. For example, during the pandemic, Chinese restaurants encountered a sharp decline in business due to perceived origins of COVID-19 (Carman and Heil 2020). Thus, animosity toward MNEs brands from certain countries may influence globalization during market disruptions (Das et al. 2021). These issues naturally raise a question regarding which transformative marketing approaches are effective for MNEs’ sustainable competitive advantage in the wake of disruptive events.
With recent disruptions, business model renewals and innovations are also necessary (Amankwah-Amoah, Khan, and Osabutey 2021; Varadarajan et al. 2022). Such disruptions lead firms to rethink their portfolios of offerings and revisit their marketing approaches to address business as well broader social issues. For example, MNEs play an important role in fostering ties with host governments for the diffusion of technologies to reduce digital inequalities across borders. The current environmental crisis and pandemic, combined with the need for digital transformations, have exposed MNEs with complex global environmental and sustainability challenges (George and Schillebeeckx 2022). Despite the importance of this topic, there is a dearth of scholarly research on how in responding to these transformative incidents (e.g., pandemic, environmental crisis, digitalization), MNEs may also be equipped to address societal problems (e.g., impoverished living in developing and developed markets or poverty, digital inequalities, improving consumer well-being) through marketing actions.
In this special issue, we call for both conceptual and empirical papers that address, but are not limited to, the following themes:
- What are transformative marketing approaches employed by MNEs, and what have their outcomes been in the face of disruptions caused by the pandemic, digital transformations, and other disruptive events?
- What are relevant drivers of and conditions impacting MNEs’ transformative marketing approaches in the face of disruption?
- What transformative capabilities can MNEs develop to address the market challenges that arise due to the market-disruptive events?
- What transformative capabilities can MNEs develop to address societal problems?
- How does the development of transformative marketing approaches enable MNEs to effectively address societal problems?
- What can MNEs adopting transformative marketing approaches do to (1) better navigate the economic and market volatility arising due to disruptions (e.g., pandemic) and (2) continue creating value to all stakeholders?
- What global marketing communication plans can be developed to help MNEs integrate various platform communication mediums and digital technologies in implementing transformative marketing approaches? What are the critical success factors and performance outcomes for those communication plans?
- From a global strategy perspective, how can MNEs strike a balance between the level of firm investment, stakeholder synergies and complementarities, and value creation opportunities when adopting transformative marketing approaches to tackle disruption?
- What strategies can MNEs implement to find, retain, and invest in appropriate human and technical resources to manage potentially changing customer preferences in the face of disruption?
- What are the future implications for MNEs regarding the role of emerging technologies and processes in global interconnectivity and information collection for implementing transformative marketing approaches?
- Should MNEs that adopt transformative marketing approaches have separate country-industry strategies for developed and emerging markets, or can they create unified strategies to accommodate all market and industry types? What are the implications for adopting separate and unified transformative marketing approaches in the face of disruption?
- What business model innovations are required in MNEs’ transformative marketing approaches in the face of disruption?
- What is the role of top marketing executives in the adoption of transformative marketing approaches in the face of disruption?
- What socioeconomic and geopolitical factors play a role in MNEs’ adoption of transformative marketing approaches in the face of disruption?
- What role do nonmarket players serve in home and host institutions in terms of MNEs’ capabilities to adopt transformative marketing approaches to tackle disruptions?
In summary, the dynamic nature of approaches to combat disruption in multinational markets may require firms to build transformative marketing capabilities and approaches. The articles selected for publication in this special issue should provide insights to firms in their efforts to navigate disruptions and—in keeping with JIM’s objective to bridge international marketing theory and practice—to international marketing scholars by advancing new theoretical and empirical insights.
Papers targeting the special issue on the same theme should be submitted through the Journal of International Marketing submission system (https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/ama_jim) and will undergo the same review process as regularly submitted papers.
The updated deadline for the submissions of full papers for the special issue is November 30, 2023.
Amankwah-Amoah, Joseph, Zaheer Khan, and Ellis L.C. Osabutey (2021), “COVID-19 and Business Renewal: Lessons and Insights from the Global Airline Industry,” International Business Review, 30 (3), 101802.
Anthony, Scott D. and Evan I. Schwartz (2017), “What the Best Transformational Leaders Do,” Harvard Business Review, 2–9.
Arora, Arun, Peter Dahlstrom, Eric Hazan, Hamza Khan, and Rock Khanna (2020), “Reimagining Marketing in the Next Normal,” McKinsey & Company (July 19), https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/growth-marketing-and-sales/our-insights/reimagining-marketing-in-the-next-normal.
Carman, Tim and Emily Heil (2020), “Amid Coronavirus Fears, Chinese Restaurants Report a Drop in Business,” The Washington Post (February 14), https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/amid-coronavirus-fears-chinese-restaurants-report-a-drop-in-business/2020/02/14/2c7d7efe-4e8f-11ea-bf44-f5043eb3918a_story.html.
Contractor, Farok J. (2021), “The World Economy Will Need Even More Globalization in the Post-Pandemic 2021 Decade,” Journal of International Business Studies, 53, 156–71.
Das, Gopal, Shailendra P. Jain, Durairaj Maheswaran, Rebecca J. Slotegraaf, and Raji Srinivasan (2021), “Pandemics and Marketing: Insights, Impacts, and Research Opportunities,” Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 49, 835–54.
George, Gerard and Simon J.D. Schillebeeckx (2022), “Digital Transformation, Sustainability, and the Purpose in the Multinational Enterprise,” Journal of World Business, 57 (3), 101326.
Knowles, Jonathan, Richard Ettenson, Patrick Lynch, and Joseph Dollens (2020), “Growth Opportunities for Brands During the COVID-19 Crisis,” MIT Sloan Management Review, 61 (4), 2–6.
Kopalle, Praveen K., V. Kumar, and Mohan Subramaniam (2020), “How Legacy Firms Can Embrace the Digital Ecosystem via Digital Customer Orientation,” Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 48 (1), 114–31.
Kumar, V. (2018), “Transformative Marketing: The Next 20 Years,” Journal of Marketing, 82 (4), 1–12.
Kumar, V. (2021), Intelligent Marketing: Employing New-Age Technologies: SAGE Publications.
Miklosik, Andrej and Nina Evans (2020), “Impact of Big Data and Machine Learning on Digital Transformation in Marketing: A Literature Review,” IEEE Access, 8, 101284–92.
Varadarajan, Rajan, Roman B. Welden, S. Arunachalam, Michael Haenlein, and Shaphali Gupta (2022), “Digital Product Innovations for the Greater Good and Digital Marketing Innovations in Communications and Channels: Evolution, Emerging Issues, and Future Research Directions,” International Journal of Research in Marketing, 39 (2), 482–501.
Verhoef, Peter C., Thijs Broekhuizen, Yakov Bart, Abhi Bhattacharya, John Qi Dong, Nicolai Fabian, and Michael Haenlein (2021), “Digital Transformation: A Multidisciplinary Reflection and Research Agenda,” Journal of Business Research, 122, 889–901. Wichmann, Julian R.K., Abhinav Uppal, Amalesh Sharma, and Marnik G. Dekimpe (2021), “A Global Perspective on the Marketing Mix Across Time and Space,” International Journal of Research in Marketing, 39 (2), 502–21.
Special Issue Editors
Huda Khan is Senior Lecturer in Marketing at the University of Aberdeen. Huda’s research mainly focuses on firms’ dynamic marketing capabilities in emerging and advanced markets. Her work has appeared in many leading journals, including Journal of Business Research, European Journal of Marketing, British Journal of Management, International Business Review, International Marketing Review Journal, and Annals of Tourism Research, among others. Huda is also editing special issues in Industrial Marketing Management, International Studies of Management and Organisation, and European Journal of Management.
Michael C. Christofi is a Lecturer in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the School of Management and Economics at Cyprus University of Technology. His research interests lie at the interface of innovation, marketing, and entrepreneurship. His research has been published in premier publication outlets such as in British Journal of Management, Journal of World Business, Journal of Business Research, Technological Forecasting & Social Change, International Journal of Human Resource Management, International Business Review, Human Resource Management Review, European Management Review, and International Marketing Review, among others. He has also coauthored several book chapters and won various awards for his research work and academic service. Michael has served and serves as a guest-editor for 19 special issues at leading journals such as British Journal of Management, Technovation, Journal of Business Ethics, International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior and Research, European Journal of Marketing, Journal of Business Research, Technological Forecasting & Social Change, International Marketing Review, and European Management Journal, among others.
Richard Lee is Associate Professor of Marketing and Research Associate at the Ehrenberg Bass Institute. He is also Associate Director of the Australian Centre for Asian Business at the University of South Australia and a management committee member of the China Business Network SA (CBNSA). Richard’s work has appeared in leading marketing journals including European Journal of Marketing, Journal of International Marketing, International Marketing Review, and Annals of Tourism Research, among others. Richard has led a special issue in International Business Review on marketing to ethnic consumers in international markets.
V. Kumar (VK) is the Salvatore Zizza Professor of Marketing, Tobin College of Business at St. John’s University. VK has also been honored as a Legend in Marketing through the Legends in Marketing series published by SAGE Publications; and as the Distinguished Term Professor, and Senior Fellow, ISB, India; Chang Jiang Scholar, HUST, China; Lee Kong Chian Fellow, Singapore Management University; Fellow, Hagler Institute for Advanced Study, TAMU, College Station, Texas; HUL Visiting Chair Professor, IIM Ahmedabad, Distinguished Visiting Professor, IIM Bangalore; and Distinguished Fellow, MICA, India. VK’s research focuses on rigor (developing new methods) and relevance (solving business problems). He has published over 300 scholarly papers and 30 books and has received over 25 Research and Teaching Excellence Awards. Professor Kumar has served as the Editor in Chief of the Journal of Marketing (2014−2018) and serves as the Department Editor of POM and as the Consulting Editor of JIBS. His latest book, Intelligent Marketing, demonstrates how new-age technologies such as artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, machine learning, robotics, blockchain, and drones influence marketing. Global Fortune 500 firms have implemented many of VK’s ideas and models, which have resulted in gains of billions of dollars (www.drvkumar.com and www.vkclv.com).
Kelly Hewett is Professor of Marketing and the Reagan Professor of Business, and Charles and Dorothy Duggan Research Fellow at the University of Tennessee’s Haslam College of Business. She also serves as Editor in Chief of the Journal of International Marketing. Prior to joining UT, she worked for five years at Bank of America, where she was a senior vice president in the firm’s corporate marketing group. Previously, she had a ten-year academic career, and also held prior positions in international marketing and marketing research. Kelly’s research has been published in the Journal of Marketing, the Journal of International Business Studies, the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, and the Journal of International Marketing, among others. Kelly has received numerous awards and recognitions for her research, teaching, and service. She has served as a Corporate Trustee for the Marketing Science Institute, and as a member of the boards for the AMA’s Marketing Strategy and Global Marketing Special Interest Groups.