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The normative and postmodern segments of Marketing

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Marketing
Wordcount: 2756 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The following essay is divided into mainly three segments. Initially the normative and postmodern are being discussed. It is being followed by the comparison between the two. The postmodern marketing differs from normative marketing. To understand the postmodern marketing much effectively few companies have been talked about that are using innovative product or services to approach the customers. At last the implications on contemporary marketing approach have been talked about and also an alternate marketing way has been suggested.

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According to Brown (2006) postmodernism is primarily an aesthetic movement, a revolt against the once shocking, subsequently tamed ‘modern’ movement of the early- to mid-twentieth century. It is better regarded as an attitude, a feeling, a mood, a sensibility, an orientation, and a way of looking at the world – a way of looking askance at the world. According to Firat and Venkatesh (1995) postmodern marketing has five key features which may serve to underpin and facilitate the process of exchange. These are:



Reversed production and consumption

Decentred subjects

Juxtaposition of opposites; and, as a general consequence of these conditions

Loss of commitment and brand loyalty which had previously been pronounced.


 The postmodern consumer wants to experience the diversity of many themes, past and future, and not to get fixed in any single one. Hyperreality provides the opportunity to present customers with previously un-encountered experiences (Brown, 2006).


Firat et al. (1995) argues that fragmentation is the condition that life in modern society and, thus people’s experiences are disjoint or disconnected. Fragmentation helps the marketers to make an offering according to the needs of people of that particular fragment. Home life, work life, recreation time, exercise time, etc. are all different experiences and lack a center of unity (Kimmel, 2005).

Reversed production and consumption

Postmodern consumers are customizers and producers of self-images at each consumptive moment The reversals in production and consumption arise from production losing its privileged status in culture and consumption becoming the means through which individuals define their self-images for themselves as well as to others (Firat et al., 1995). According to (Brown, 2006) postmodernism is based on the consumption whereas the modernism is based on the production. Consumers are becoming ‘marketing literate’. Consumers are being stimulated and are developing a resistance to these stimuli, even learning to turn the tables. Postmodern consumers gives more value to consumption over the product itself and are more loyal to ‘sign and symbols’ which are created during consumption (Brown, 2006).

Decenterd subjects

Decentred subjects is the reverse of centeredness where individuals are unambiguously defined by their occupation, social class, demographics, etc (Proctor and Kitchen, 2002)

Juxtaposition of opposites; and, as a general consequence of these conditions

Firat and Shultz (1997) say that paradoxical juxtaposition is the act or an instance of placing two or more seemingly contradictory things side by side. This condition can be perceived in different generations who like the mix of incompatible things together for example, some of generation y people may like a combination of punk hair and high-fashion clothing, veterans might like a combination of traditional (example, fire place) and modern architectural facilities(central temperature control) in their house’s architecture, etc.

Loss of commitment and brand loyalty which had previously been pronounced.

“Disappointment with the inability of the modern project to deliver its promises and the growing willingness to experience differences mentioned above both reinforce the tendency in late modernity and in postmodern culture for a loss of commitment to either grand or singular projects. Rather, the postmodern consumer takes on multiple, sometimes even contradictory projects, to which the consumer is marginally and momentarily committed, not taking any one too seriously” (Firat et al.1995). 

Normative Marketing

Normative Influence: Social pressure designed to encourage conformity to expression of others. Derived from the word ‘norms’, it is shaped by society’s collective decisions, morals etc. It can have tremendous effect on consumer behavior. It can affect brand choice congruence and affects conformity as well.


Postmodern is a term related to the modern. In other words, postmodern is a thought which develops after modernistic thought. The postmodern approaches to marketing research might suggest that progress in the knowledge of marketing reality (or realities) is impossible, since it cannot be determined which research direction is the right one or which results are acceptable (Arias and Acebrón, 2001).

Normative marketing differs from postmodern perspectives on the subject in several ways, including its approach to the “marketing concept” (Proctor and Kitchen, 2002).  Postmodernism argues that consumers do not really know what they want; only what they do not want. Whereas on the other hand according to normative concept producer knows the need of the customer and produces the product accordingly (Proctor and Kitchen, 2002).

 Postmodern approach is a straight marketing question of “What can be done to satisfy customer needs and wants?” With a vast variety of choices in hands customers are beginning to question what they really want (Proctor and kitchen, 2002). Bareham (2004:162) explains a post-modern perception that ‘the consumer does not follow rules, is unlikely to be predictable, and may change their purchase strategy occasionally’. “The postmodern consumers as ‘restless, cynical, world weary, self obsessed hedonists demanding instant gratification and ever-increasing doses’ of stimulation” (Brown, 1994:36).

‘ In the modern vision, the researcher can enquire into any field where s/he envisages something new or uncovered – either because reality has changed or because new tools allow him/her to see a new reality. On the contrary, in postmodern vision the marketing researcher can deal with everything arousing his/her interest, and to which his/her accumulated knowledge can be applied’ (Addis and Podestà, 2005).

Brown (2006:212) clarifies postmodernism as a ‘critique not a concept, and doesn’t provide an alternative to existing marketing concepts’. However Fukuda (2009) affirms that cohort effect is lifelong effect and appropriate for food, music, apparel, automotive, financial, and insurance products as well as for entertainment products’ and deduces cohort analysis is a useful tool for forecasting marketing trends’. The postmodern does not abandon the modern scientific procedures which look for universal knowledge on market research and consumer behavior, but suggests opting for “multiple theories” (Goudling, 2003). Accordingly, Harrison and Kjellberg (2009) states market segmentation approach has ‘fairly remained stable’ and appropriate in ‘established markets’.



Centralized objects (Defined by traditional segmentation like occupation, social class, demographics, post code).

Decentralized objects (a person can have several contrasting identities/roles/characters each with requisite regalia of consumables).

Conformed via norms. There are no blurred boundaries.

No rules/conforming norms. Confusion has become the new means of selling.

Products use to be need based.

Products are value based. Companies aim to provide extraordinary experience.

Low/Minimal consumer participation.

Reversed Production & consumption: Consumers are co creators. More involved participation, subvert the market rather than being seduced by it.

Put people first-Product/services created real social benefit.

Hyper reality: Put advantage first-Product/service provides pleasure of being in a pseudo world.

Precise segmentation & positioning.

Juxtaposition of opposites (Imaginative consumer participation owing to ill defined, untargeted approach).


Societal values, beliefs, customs, traditions.

Normative neutral /positively sanctioned Impulsive buying(Acting on impulse is appropriate).

Key words:

Experiential, Environmental, Esthetic Entertainment, Evanescence, Ethical Effrontery.

Source: Firat (1997), Brown (2006), Procter & Kitchen (2002)

Hart (2003) commented in kotlers 4 p’s and gives contrast of postmodernity over modernity where 4p’s stand for:






Mc Donald’s

The postmodern era has seen a transformation from certainties, uniformities and un-ambiguities changing to individualities, instabilities & fluidities. In fact the ambiguity is used with efficacy to create a hyperreality that satisfies customer’s needs and wants more aptly. Mc Donald’s Global business strategy changed from “plan to win” wherein strategies aimed at molding the plot in 5 P’s(people, product, place, price & promotion) to influence individual consumer in making brand choice. Now they are more concerned with total consumption space, overconsumption, status buying and logo envy. Their new global business strategy is “To be the leading restaurant promoting healthy, happy, and active lifestyles everywhere we do business”. It claims that fast food is healthy, nutritious & part of fitness lifestyle and asserts the same via testimonials from Bob Greene, Oprah Winfrey’s fitness coach etc. Also changed its motto to “I’m lovin’ it” and revamped the Ronald Mc Donald clown with a more fit look. In order to engage customers loyalty and setting pace with the gradually evolving consumption preferences they hail customers via advertisements, posters etc. As stated by Brown (2006) ‘It is not to brands that consumers will be loyal, but to images and symbols’. The changed look is a way of recontemporalizing the association of brand with fitness instead of fatness. Moving beyond hyper reality, the fact that today’s consumer is more fragmented and has multiple set of preferences. Mc Donald adopts fragmentation concept in postmodern where Proctor & Kitchen (2002) and Firat and Shultz (1997) interpret fragmentation as an “outcome by different needs of users, their different behaviors, moods and uncommon lifestyle of contemporary consumers”. Recently Mc Donald’s has tied up with Indian Railways to serve across few chief railway stations in India with a menu beyond its traditional serving. There will be a counter for public access called ‘Desi Potli’ (Local Packet) and the counter will provide the traditional Indian dishes such as ‘Aloo Puri’ (Indian Bread with Potato Curry) and ‘Chicken Masala’ within a price bracket of Rs50 (£0.64) which is the same as for its other chief menu items (Ghosh, 2009). Mc Donald’s by following this new strategy is working out of its image i.e a local food at a fast food restaurant.

2. Heritage Hotels

Heritage hotels are the live exemplification of pseudo worlds that acts as consumption sites or geographical space or place which is more than real i.e hyperreal. This is an ideal manifestation of postmodern marketing to catch up with changing consumer behavior since it helps them to have an experience they have never encountered. Such enchanting & stimulating opportunity arrives to them as a more creative way of spending money.

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For example, the very famous restaurant known by the name of ‘Haveli’ at Jalandhar, India has moved beyond providing just taste and quality but value in the form of unique experience of sitting in a typical village of Punjab being served with sumptuous cuisine by traditionally dressed waiters along with folk dance and other performances all key representations of Punjab. They call themselves a unique theme resort thereby presenting to customers a somebody which has superior value to offer out of the league. This more than real exemplification of ‘it’ with excellence fascinates several customers who choose to halt at this particular destination despite hundred odd choices on the same highway. Another such incomparable stimulating experience is provided at ‘Chokhi Dhani’ in Jaipur and ‘Palace on Wheels’, the famous heritage train in Rajasthan. The palace on wheels gives a unique experience of traveling in a train representing the style reminiscent of Maharajas of Rajasthan. The travelers especially tourist are enticed by form and style of the royal & incomparable vicarious pleasure of living like a Maharaja (King) who are the representation of the rich heritage of a profound civilization. The vital part of service is to add value to the hotel by bringing the cultural aspect in the hotels which customer’s experiences. The primary effort of Heritage hotels revolves around bringing the past rich heritage and culture which is experienced by the customer, thereby living the past in present i.e perpetual present as stated by Brown (2006) & Firat and Shultz (1997). Images shown in Appendix 1.

3. Philips Living colors

Philips living color introduced by Philips is a concept of one of its kind which roots to psychological principle. Phillips living colors allows a person to choose from 16million colors and allows the consumer to change the color of the room as per mood of the consumer with the help of a remote. The main idea revolves around the concept that colors have always influenced the mood of a person and also affects mentally. The Phillips living color is made possible using LED lamps which lasts longer, consume less energy and are small enough to fit any corner of a room.

This unique approach by Philips, allowing customers to illuminate their room with infinite colors and moreover allowing them to change their color of the room according to their mood, demonstrates, how Philips has capitalized over the fragmentation notion of postmodernism. Where, Proctor & Kitchen (2002) and Firat & Shultz (1997) interpret fragmentation as an outcome by different needs of users, their different behaviors, moods and uncommon lifestyle of consumers. (Images shown in appendix 1).


The norms of normative marketing and postmodern marketing differ from each other. According to the literature the postmodernism is stated as a critique and not a concept whereas the normative marketing practice is based on collective decision, morals and also on consumer behavior. The approach of producing the product for the consumer is changing. As per the normative approach the production was important but in postmodern marketing the consumer are becoming aware and are turning the table and playing an equal role in designing what they want.

It is very much important for the marketers to understand the consumer behavior because with the changing market the behavior of the customer is also changing. Understanding the consumer behavior will help the marketers to plan their marketing strategy. One widespread tool which joins the consumer to each other is the Internet. It can help the marketers to reach the customer on a common platform and equally. It is a medium which acts as a fastest source to reach the customer.  Internet is an enabling tool, which allows direct individualized interaction with postmodern consumers. Further, the internet is also able to provide consumers the opportunity to express their individuality within groups (Kaplan and Heninlein, 2010).




Palace on wheels


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