Philip Kotler Featured

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Philip Kotler

The Father of Marketing

Philip Kotler has been hailed as “the world’s top expert on the strategic practice of marketing” by the Management Centre Europe. He earned an M.A. in economics from the University of Chicago in 1953 and a Ph.D. in the same subject from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) three years later. Kotler is Professor Emeritus of Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management, where he held the S.C. Johnson & Son Professorship of International Marketing. During Professor Kotler’s 56 years at Kellogg, his research and teaching contributed significantly to the school’s success, which included being named Best Business School for six consecutive years in BusinessWeek’s survey of U.S. business schools and being named Best Business School for the Teaching of Marketing. Over the course of his career, he has written more than 150 articles and 80 books. He has also consulted for several major corporations, including IBM, AT&T, General Electric, Bank of America, and Merck. Kotler was the first recipient of the American Marketing Association’s Distinguished Marketing Educator Award, and he received the European Association of Marketing Consultants and Sales Trainers’ prize for marketing excellence. In 2013, he became the first recipient of the William L. Wilkie American Marketing Association Foundation’s Marketing for a Better World Award for significant contributions to marketing theory and practice. He was inducted into the Management Hall of Fame and was the first recipient of the Sheth Foundation Medal for Exceptional Contribution to Marketing Scholarship and Practice. Tokyo Journal Editor-in-Chief Anthony Al-Jamie asked Kotler to talk about his outstanding career and his experiences in Japan.

TJ: What inspired you to pursue a career in marketing, and what do you enjoy the most about it?
I have always been keenly interested in people and their needs and desires. So, I decided to study economics as a key to understanding people. But economics disappointed me in taking a mechanistic view of human behavior. Standard economic theory assumes that people are rational decisionmakers. I studied psychology, sociology, and anthropology to take a more social science view of human behavior. I believe that 70% of human behavior is emotional. I am happy that even classical economics is moving toward behavioral economics. Marketing is essentially based on a social science view of human behavior.
Marketing is intriguing. Marketers use their understanding of human behavior to influence buyer behavior in a way to ultimately benefit customers and their businesses. Human behavior is always varied and changing. As such, developing marketing plans and campaigns is a challenging and satisfying task. We should never say that our plans failed. We should say that we either won or learned.

TJ: What have been the biggest changes in marketing trends in recent years?
Here are some of the major changes in marketing and markets: Marketing’s job is much more than just selling a company’s existing products. Marketing must be the agent discovering new, unmet customer needs and getting the company to improve its current offerings and innovate new offerings to meet these needs. The marketing team cannot be effective if they can’t control and integrate the 4Ps: Products, Prices, Places, and Promotion. They must not only focus on the target customer, but they also need to motivate and reward employees who deliver the promised benefits.
I’ve also noticed that companies that fairly reward all their stakeholders will produce the best return for the shareholders. Marketing is mainly a people business, not a product business. Also, I believe that companies and marketing must go digital as fast as possible, while not abandoning important traditional marketing tools. New technologies such as robots, drones, chat boxes, 3D printing, virtual reality, blockchains, and market automation should all be given serious review so that the company isn’t blindsided or disrupted by alert competition.


The complete article can be found in Issue #281 of the Tokyo Journal.

Written By:

Anthony Al-Jamie

Anthony Al-Jamie lived and worked in Japan for over 20 years. His in-depth understanding of Japanese language and culture has allowed him to carry out interviews with many of the most renowned individuals in Japan. He first began writing for the Tokyo Journal in the 1990s as Education Editor, later he was promoted to Senior Editor, and eventually International Editor and Executive Editor. He currently serves the Tokyo Journal as Editor-in-Chief.


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