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Macromarketing addresses big/important issues at the nexus of marketing and society. The principal scholarly outlet for macromarketing research is the Journal of Macromarketing.[1] In a more interconnected world of markets, marketers, and their stakeholders, macromarketing is an important mechanism to study both opportunities and shortcomings of marketing, and both its intended positive effects and unintended deleterious effects. Macromarketing therefore includes an optimistic perspective; it seeks functional mechanisms to enhance marketing processes and systems, to the benefit of the largest number of stakeholders, the world over. The following text borrows heavily from Shultz (2007a; 2007b).

History of term[edit]

The definition of macromarketing can vary depending upon one’s source, but macromarketing typically is differentiated by its focus on aggregations and systems, and the way marketing processes within them affect and are affected by those systems and the society in which they function.

Bartels and Jenkins (1977) suggested:"(M)acromarketing" should connote an aspect of marketing which is "larger" than what is otherwise considered….It has meant the marketing process in its entirety, and the aggregate mechanism of institutions performing it. It has meant systems and groups of micro institutions, such as channels, conglomerates, industries, and associations, in contrast to their individual component units…the social context of micromarketing, its role in the national economy, and its application to the marketing of noneconomic goods. It has also meant the uncontrollable environment of micro firms.

Hunt (1981) suggested: macromarketing is a multidimensional construct, [which] refers to the study of (1) marketing systems, (2) the impact and consequence of marketing systems on society, and (3) the impact and consequence of society on marketing systems.

Fisk (1981) added that macromarketing should be viewed as social process: (1) as a life-support system provisioning technology, (2) as a focus on quality and quantity of life-goals served by marketing, (3) as a technology for mobilizing and allocating resources, (4) and as a discipline concerned about the consequences of marketing, i.e., the spillover effects of marketing for those who may not seek or be aware of the intended or unintended activities of marketers.

Perspectives and Historical Development[edit]

The ideas and interests central to macromarketing have been with us for Millennia. History of the Peloponnesian War (Thucydides, 1972, the Magna Carta (Danziger and Gillingham, 2004), and The Travels (Marco Polo, 1958 [circa late 13th Century]) provide just three examples of works in which trade, markets, marketing and concerns for societal welfare were themes. Macromarketers regularly delve into such literature, because they find it intrinsically interesting, but also because they believe there are important lessons germane to modern marketing scholarship and practice.

Macromarketing practice moreover is perhaps as old as society itself. Societies emerged for the welfare of the group; the need for specialization and then exchanges of items produced by specialists surely was evident early-on. Greater specialization and support for it begat trade. Eventually markets—which linked many systems in any given society, from production to consumption—were an efficient mechanism to sustain a society, which, fundamentally is a series of institutions and systems agreed upon by the members of the group. One would reasonably presume the ancient markets—imagine the agora in Athens or a bazaar in the Fertile Crescent of Mesopotamia—necessitated systemic organization and coordination, bringing people together in ways to facilitate exchanges and, on balance, improving society.

Within the modern marketing literature, macromarketing orientations were evident early in the 20th century. Sheth and Gardner (1982) suggest "the first school of marketing thought (was) macromarketing," a focus on problems and potential of marketing activities from a more societal perspective, rather than from the firm’s perspective (p. 53).[2] More explicit glimpses of academic macromarketing were evident in textbooks written by Breyer (1934), and Vaile, Grether and Cox (1952). Their macro orientation became a cornerstone at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and was further developed by Alderson (1957).

A more prescribed macromarketing concept seems to have emerged between the late 1950s and mid 1960s (e.g., Holloway and Hancock, 1964; Grether and Holloway, 1967; Slater, 1968). Fisk’s (1967) text on Marketing Systems presented a detailed macrosystems perspective, including chapters on Evolution of Marketing Systems (historical analysis), Characteristics of Marketing Systems (Micro and Macro system characteristics), Resource Allocation by Competition and the Expanding Role of Government (aggregate system constraints), and Social Performance of Marketing and Comparative Marketing.

In summary, marketing began because it added value to societies, and markets and the systems of which they were part emerged and thrived, because, though not flawless, they were superior to most (all?) other social institutions as a provisioning mechanism. They are among the oldest institutions that affect and are affected by society; (e.g., Shultz et al., 2005). Macromarketing addresses these complex and multi-faceted relationships by examining marketing and society, marketing systems, marketing history, marketing phenomena in the aggregate, and marketing’s effects on quality of life.

Macromarketing today[edit]

Today, macromarketing continues to morph, to draw new and diverse followers, and thus it defies neat boundaries, descriptors, and limitations. With its growth and maturation have come new directions in the forms of sub-disciplines, as described by the section editors on the webpage for the Journal of Macromarketing. The Macromarketing Society is the facilitating body of Macromarketing research. They have held annual meetings since 1976. Recent and upcoming meetings have been held in Vancouver, British Columbia (2005); in Queenstown, New Zealand (2006); in Washington, DC (2007); in Clemson, South Carolina (2008); at Adger University, Norway (2009); in Laramie, Wyoming (2010); in Williamsburg, Virginia (2011); in Berlin, Germany (2012); in Toronto, Canada (2013); in London, UK (2014). Additional information on meetings and membership can be found at "The Macromarketing Society".


  1. ^ Journal of Macromarketing
  2. ^ See also Bartels (1965); Wilkie and Moore (1999; 2003); contributions by Ely (1903), Shaw (1916) and Schumpeter (1934), for example, also come to mind (cf. Jones and Moniesen, 1990). Macromarketing therefore is integral to society and its welfare.


  • Alderson, Wroe. 1957. Marketing Behavior and Executive Action, Homewood, IL: Irwin.
  • Bartels, Robert. 1965. "Development of Marketing Thought: A Brief History," in Science in Marketing. George Schwartz, (ed.) New York: John Wiley.
  • Bartels, Robert and Roger L. Jenkins. 1977. "Macromarketing," Journal of Marketing, 41 (4):17-20.
  • Breyer, Ralph. 1934. The Marketing Institution. New York: McGraw Hill.
  • Danziger, Danny and John Gillingham. 2004. 1215: The Year of the Magna Carta. New York: Touchstone.
  • Dixon, Donald. 1979. "The Origins of Macromarketing Thought," in Macromarketing: New Steps on the Learning Curve. George Fisk and Robert Nason, (eds.) Boulder, CO: University of Colorado Business Research Division.
  • Ely, R. T. 1903. E. D. Jones to Ely, March 18 unpublished correspondences, Ely Papers, Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin in Jones, Brian and David D. Monieson (1990), "Early Development of the Philosophy of Marketing Thought", Journal of Marketing, 54 (Jan): 102-113.
  • Fisk, George. 1967. Marketing Systems: An Introductory Analysis. New York: Harper and Row.
  • Fisk, George. 1981. "An Invitation to Participate in Affairs of the Journal of Macromarketing," Journal of Macromarketing, 1 (1): 3.
  • Grether, E.T. and Robert Holloway. 1967. "Impact of Government upon the Marketing System," Journal of Marketing, 31 (April): 1-5.
  • Holloway, Robert J. and Robert S. Hancock. 1964. The Environment of Marketing Behavior, New York: Wiley.
  • Hunt, Shelby. 1981. Macromarketing as a Multidimensional Concept," Journal of Macromarketing, 1 (1): 7-8.
  • Philip Kotler and Alfred Riachi 2009, "Macro Marketing in the 21st Century", Journal of Marketing 110.
  • Hunt, Shelby. 1977. "The Three Dicohotomies Model of Marketing: An Elaboration of Issues," in *Macro-Marketing: Distributive Processes from a Societal Perspective, edited by Charles Slater, Boulder: Business Research Division, University of Colorado, 52-56.
  • Jones, Brian and David D. Monieson. 1990. "Early Development of the Philosophy of Marketing Thought," Journal of Marketing, 54 (Jan): 102-113.
  • Lane, Robert. 1991. The Market Experience, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • McMillan, John. 2002. Reinventing the Bazaar: The Natural History of Markets, New: York: Norton.
  • Mittelstaedt, John D., William E. Kilbourne and Robert A. Mittelstaedt. 2006. Macromarketing as Agorology: Macromarketing Theory and the Study of the Agora," Journal of Macromarketing, 26 (2): 131-142.
  • Polo, Marco. 1958. The Travels. Ronald Latham (trans.), New York: Penguin.
  • Schumpeter, Joseph. 1934. The Theory of Economic Development; an Inquiry into Profits, Capital, Credit, Interest, and the Business Cycle, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  • Shaw, Arch Wilkinson. 1916. An Approach to Business Problems. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  • Shawver, Donald and William Nickels. 1979. "A Rationalization for Macromarketing Concepts and Measures," in Macromarketing: New Steps on the Learning Curve.
  • George Fisk and Robert Nason (eds.) Boulder, CO: University of Colorado Business Research Division.
  • Sheth, Jadgish and David Gardner. 1982. "History of Marketing Thought: An Update," in Marketing Theory: Philosophy of Science Perspectives. Ronald Bush and Shelby Hunt (eds.) Chicago: AMA, 52-58.
  • Shultz, Clifford J. II. 2007a. "Macromarketing," in Explorations of Marketing in Society, Gundlach, G., L. Block, and Wilkie, W. (eds.), Cincinnati, OH: South-Western / Thomson, 766-784.
  • Shultz, Clifford J. II. 2007b. "Marketing as Constructive Engagement," Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 26 (2): 293-301.
  • Shultz, C. J. II, T. Burkink, B. Grbac, and N. Renko. 2005. "When Policies and Marketing Systems Explode: An Assessment of Food Marketing in the War-Ravaged Balkans and Implications for Recovery, Sustainable Peace, and Prosperity," Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 24 (1): 24-37.
  • Slater, Charles C. 1968. "Marketing Processes in Developing Latin American Societies," Journal of Marketing, 32 (July).
  • Thucydides. 1954 (431~424 B.C.). History of the Peloponnesian War. Rex Warner (trans.) 1954, New York: Penguin.
  • Vaile, R., E. Grether and R. Cox. 1952. Marketing in the American Economy, New York: Ronald Press Co.
  • Wilkie, William and Elizabeth Moore. 1999. "Marketing’s Contributions to Society," Journal of Marketing, 63 (Special Issue): 198-218.
  • Wilkie, William and Elizabeth Moore. 2003. "Scholarly Research in Marketing: Exploring the ‘4 Eras’ of Thought Development," Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 22 (2): 116-146.