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Postgraduate (MSc, MA, MBA and PhD) Programs in Marketing

Marketing is often confused with advertising and sales – the attempt to sell an existing product, or to do so at an elevated price. In fact, it is better understood as the business function that attempts to identify unfulfilled needs (or wants) and to determine which of them the organisation can most appropriately serve, and how it can best do so.

Marketing was once the province of for-profit companies, such as manufacturers and retailers (as well as the advertising and public relations firms they hired to help them).

Find postgraduate programs in MARKETING

Now, however, marketing is an important part of the activities of service and non-profit/not-for-profit organisations, including charities, hospitals, and museums. A museum, for instance, might look to understand whether it is worth the effort (and the money) to try to host a blockbuster exhibit. To justify the additional expenditures (security, transporting the exhibit, insurance, training extra docents, advertising, staff overtime, and so on) will require estimating the number of additional visitors that can be expected and the amount they will be willing to pay. In other words, the museum will be undertaking standard marketing analysis.

Marketing team

Trends in Marketing

Numerous substantial trends continue to drive this field, including:

• Product proliferation
• The shift to online sales
• The growing internationalisation of markets
• The breakdown of traditional advertising vehicles such as television (and rise of the Internet)
• The availability of new data from interactive marketing efforts
• The rise of new global competitors – Japan in the 1970s, now China, India, and others – able to make increasingly high-quality, sophisticated products
• The shift in power to retailers (and their own brands)
• Consumer concerns about outsourcing, child labour, and environmental impact.

Choosing a masters program

Most marketing programs are one year long. Many are meant to provide advanced training in marketing to those who have already studied business at the undergraduate level. Others are meant for those who are new to business. Some programs cater to both groups. The University of Birmingham’s MSc in International Marketing, for instance, allows those lacking an undergraduate business degree to do a nine-month diploma in business as preparation for the masters program.

Some schools offer two marketing degrees, one for candidates new to business and another for those with prior academic or work experience in business. Bradford University School of Management, for instance, offers both an MA and an MSc degree in marketing. Both are one-year programs, but the MA program is aimed at those without relevant prior business study or work experience. It allows for a bit of specialisation, but is more properly viewed as providing a general management perspective on marketing. In fact, approximately half of the course work will be in areas other than marketing. The MSc, in contrast, which is meant for those with an undergraduate degree in a relevant business-related subject, keeps the focus resolutely on marketing and offers the opportunity to specialise within marketing.

The long-recognised importance of marketing means that there are hundreds of marketing masters courses on offer. Inevitably, perhaps, many offer the opportunity to specialise within the field – with some specialisations being particularly interesting. The University of South Australia, for instance, offers the chance to specialise in wine marketing. In fact, a whole host of other industries, ranging from sport to healthcare, have specialised degrees or concentrations focused on them.

Nor are specialisations limited to industries. Programs around the world offer specialisations in communications and public relations, consumer behaviour, marketing research, product management, strategic marketing, brand management, distribution, international marketing, services marketing, sales (force) management, industrial marketing, merchandising, pricing, internet marketing, technology-based marketing, and so on.

The international dimension is certainly not emphasised in all programs, but some do offer the opportunity to study at partner institutions elsewhere in the world. Students at Spain’s Instituto de Empresa Business School Master in Marketing Management program can do an exchange in Brazil, Sweden, or the United States. Similarly, the program helps students find internships at international companies and organisations.

Some programs are designed for students with an undergraduate degree in business (or a related field) who now wish to focus on marketing. Others require some coursework in core business fields, such as accounting, economics, and statistics, but not necessarily in marketing.

Many programs also look for:

• Strong communication skills (verbal and written)
• Substantial internet skills
• Quantitative and analytical skills   

Marketing MBA in Marketing

Studying an MBA in Marketing is a great way to combine essential business management skills together with marketing know-how. As well as studying the standard core modules on an MBA – such as Accounting, Economics and Management – students will also have the chance to choose from some optional courses such as Global Marketing and Digital Marketing.

London School of Business and Finance has a Global MBA (Marketing Management) which looks at issues arising from business marketing from a global perspective. The Global Marketing Management MBA sees students creating a hypothetical global marketing plan as well as learning about marketing policies and targeted marketing.

PhD in Marketing

Newcastle University’s PhD in Marketing  can be studied for 36 months full time or 72 months part time. The areas of research expertise include: Consumer behaviour; International marketing; Retail marketing; and Internet and direct marketing.

Kent Business School offers a PhD in Marketing which sees students meet with their supervisors on a regular basis to discuss and plan key issues of their PhD.

Career opportunities

Marketing is such a broad field that a wide range of talents and interests are easily accommodated. The traditional separation of marketing activities into the four Ps – product, price, place, and promotion – barely hints at the range of roles required in modern marketing. There are specialists in analysing consumer behaviour just as there are specialists in analysing competitors. There are forecasters of future demand just as there are buyers of television advertising time. 

A generation ago, marketing jobs could be separated into:

• Marketing research
• Product management
• Advertising
• Sales
• Physical distribution
• Retailing

Even with the specific jobs listed within each of these categories, an excellent mid-1980s book discussed only 26 marketing jobs in total. To redo that book would require at least a doubling of the number of jobs to be discussed. In other words, just as products (and even industries) have proliferated, so have the specialities within marketing.

Marketing Typical careers

• Junior product manager
• E-commerce manager
• Demand planning analyst
• Business analyst
• Distribution analyst
• Corporate marketing specialist
• Marketing research manager
• Customer quality specialist
• Brand manager
• Interactive marketing analyst
• Advertising manager
• Product marketing specialist
• Account executive
• Supply chain manager
• Marketing co-ordinator
• Marketing manager
• Direct marketing manager

Professional associations (UK and US)

Institute of Direct Marketing (UK)
Market Research Society (UK)
Chartered Institute of Marketing (UK)
American Marketing Association
Marketing Research Association (US)

Introductory readings

Those wishing to prepare for a marketing program are spoiled for choice: numerous books offer a readable, and reasonably comprehensive, view of the field. For instance, an excellent overview of the field is provided by the Roger J Best book, Market-Based Management: Strategies for Growing Customer Value and Profitability (Prentice Hall). It provides a realistic view of key marketing problems. A fine alternative is Cranfield School of Management’s Marketing Management: A Relationship Marketing Perspective (Palgrave Macmillan).