A Book Review
All Business is Local: Why Place Matters More Than Ever in a Global, Virtual World, by John A. Quelch and Katherine E. Jocz, Penguin Group: NY, 2012.
Location is everywhere, but the authors remind us of the importance that ìplaceî plays in connecting people with products and services. To the authors, "place" has multiple meanings, because it is associated with the mental maps that people create about various experiences. The primary strands of place include: psychological place, physical place, virtual place, geographic place, and global place.
For marketers, managing all the elements of place includes physical distribution, retailing, customer behavior and psychology, and organizational strategy and structure.
- Psychological Place is where people have a web of mental associations with location, for example associating juiciness of oranges to Florida or a Dodge Durango with the rugged outdoors.
- Physical Place defines most purchasing behavior and has to do with making products physically accessible, and the structural characteristics and uses of space at retailers such as Nike and the Apple Store that influence the way people shop and consume.
- Virtual Place is where buyers and sellers interact virtually, for example through location-based advertising.
- Geographic Place is where place and product become intertwined when destinations become the marketed good.
- Global Place is where products and services are associated with global brands.
The authors contend that place, in all of its 5 manifestations, matters because that is where the buying transaction occurs. Place is also what determines the constraints such as laws, regulations, taxes, and trade agreements, which still govern sellers and their digital or physical products. However, the authors indicate that the biggest managerial challenge in addressing place is that much of what is known about place was learned in the past.
Updating geographic information has historically been a difficult and expensive proposition for companies. However, the authors neglect to mention that with the advent of cloud computing, mobile and social media data collection, and big data analytics platforms, this is becoming easier and more cost effective.
No marketing book would be worth its salt without discussing brand. A number of successful global brands from The Real Madrid Soccer Team, Apple, IKEA, IBM, PayPal, Google, and many more are discussed. One of the issues the authors raise relative to brand is how difficult it is for consumers, business buyers, and regulators to identify country of origin with any degree of precision as a result of the explosion in outsourcing. With the Green and Sustainability Movements gaining momentum, consumers are increasingly concerned about the sourcing of products and services.
The value chain was always entrusted to the brand. The question that arises from the authorsí line of thinking is: How is brand managed in a short-term focused corporate culture? Managers and executives have different personal objectives relative to their career and financial expectations that inevitably trickle down into decisions that in the near, mid, and long-term can either positively or negatively impact the brand.
Location analytics and transparency of corporate information now readily available to consumers and journalists will compete for the mindshare of the consumer and the brandís corporate messaging. See The Effect of Transparency in Business
While the book discusses a number of location technologies, it is not a location-based marketing book. It is more focused on the psychology of place and how effective management of the place variable in the 4Ps (product, price, promotion, and place) of marketing is critical to success, and how its neglect is destined to failure. It is a little simplistic for being written by an academic and a consultant, but itís a quick read and worth the refresher on basic human associations.