Marketers expressing the future: Scenario planning for marketing action

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Futures, 2010, 42 (4), pp. 417 - 426
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Thomas Friedman exhorts us to imagine the future [1] - we urge marketers to invent the future, to learn the future faster, and to deliver the future earlier. Marketers are asked to develop scenarios about emerging technologies such as broadband wireless but more often than not have no education or training in scenario planning. Also marketers are often stuck in a strategic planning mindset based on successful replication of past marketing strategies. Strategic management and marketing learning has ventured into futures and foresight methodologies, but with strong focus on conventional macroscopic high-level scenario planning methods.This paper positions scenario planning as a method to express the future vision, both tacit and explicit, of business, products and services in a clear succinct story form, to underpin all elements of a marketing strategy (goals, position and execution). The scenario planning for marketing action (SPMA) model is introduced and discussed incorporating eight principles: moderation and time compression; storytelling led new product and service development; customer orientation; iterative dynamic scenarios; complexity science to foster non-linear thinking; risk weighted scenarios; participant hosted scenario workshops; springboard consolidation.The SPMA method was proven and evolved within postgraduate Executive education courses in Sydney and Bangkok from 2003 to 2007. This approach is fundamental for marketers to gain competences in " learning the future faster" , thus possessing capabilities to imagine and invent the future and deliver the future earlier. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd.
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