In a nutshell: Strategic orientations, marketing proactivity and firm market performance

Scientific articles contain valuable management implications, but are usually not very easy to digest. We summarize the core results so that you can use the latest research findings for your company.

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Guided by strategic orientations, firms must continuously deliver superior value in order to maintain a strong position in the market over the long-term.
This study explores how two prominent strategic orientations (i.e., market and technological orientations) influence a firm’s marketing proactivity and performance, with marketing proactivity being the key to delivering continuously superior value. Specifically, we examine how the cultural (i.e., a proactive market orientation) and the behavioral (i.e., market pioneering) dimensions of marketing proactivity, and the interaction between them, affects a firm’s market performance.
A structural equation modeling analysis of survey data from 109 firms shows that a proactive market orientation and market pioneering have a significant positive impact on the sales per employee and the growth rate of a firm. […]
Our research offers three contributions to the literature on marketing proactivity. First, contrary to other studies that show a positive relationship between responsiveness and market pioneering, our study finds no such effect. […]
Second, the effect of proactive market orientation and market pioneering on sales, sales per employee, and growth rate presents an interesting contrast. Sales per employee and growth rate show a strong relationship with both proactive market orientation and market pioneering. However, only market pioneering has a positive effect on sales; proactive market orientation appears not to be significantly related to sales. […]
Three, our results show that the positive effect of proactive market orientation on growth rate and sales per employees is strengthened if the firm also engages in market pioneering.

Key statements

B2B companies must continually deliver superior value to their customers in order to maintain a strong position in the market over the long-term. A key foundation stone to achieving this is marketing proactivity.
The authors of this study explore the question of how marketing proactivity influences the performance of a company. By definition, marketing proactivity comprises two dimensions: (1) the proactive market orientation of companies and (2) their innovation leadership within the market. In order for companies to be considered proactive, they must firstly keep in mind the current and future requirements of customers, and also be the first to bring innovations to market.
Based on survey data collected from 109 companies, the authors are able to establish that marketing proactivity has a positive impact on the revenues per sales employee and the growth of a company. This positive effect is particularly strengthened if the company fulfills both dimensions of proactivity.
The following levers will support you in promoting marketing proactivity in your company:

  • Accounting for tomorrow, today: Many companies are overly preoccupied with addressing the needs of their customers at present and therefore overlook potential opportunities for innovation. Don’t just focus on the status quo, keep an eye on future customer needs too.
  • Invest in new technologies: Making use of the latest technologies is an important driver for proactivity. Stay up to date and check if and how you can strengthen your competitive position through new technologies (e.g. AI, VR).
  • Enhance your corporate culture: Proactivity starts with the employees. Establish a management style that fosters a proactive culture. Crucial factors here include open and clear communication, sufficient autonomy for employees and a constructive approach to addressing errors.

Gotteland, D., Shock, J. & Sarin, S. (2020). Strategic orientations, marketing proactivity and firm market performance. Industrial Marketing Management, 91, 610–620.