The Industrial/Consumer Dichotomy in Marketing: Can Formal Taxonomic Thinking Help?

Ross Brennan

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The question of whether or not there exists a dichotomy between industrial (business-to-business) and consumer marketing has never been satisfactorily answered. Prominent authors champion both sides of the debate. This paper places the debate in the broader context of formal taxonomic thinking, and so seeks to resolve the issue at a more fundamental level than the practice of marketing. The argument presented here is that the validity of the industrial/consumer dichotomy should be addressed through an understanding of scientific taxonomy. The science of taxonomy is highly developed in other fields of study. It is argued in this paper that the industrial/consumer dichotomy fails to meet the criteria for a logically based, general taxonomic framework. Rather, the dichotomy has the weaker characteristics of a special or ‘folk’ taxonomic framework. Scientific effort in marketing should be directed towards the development of valid marketing classifications based on sound taxonomic principles
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-324
JournalJournal of Customer Behaviour
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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