The concept of strategy is centuries old, with its roots commonly traced to a military context. Even so, definitions of strategy continue to abound. Moreover, companies frequently do not have formal, written statements of strategy, or they write such statements in very general terms.‘j In fact, strategy may often have to be deduced from evolving patterns of behaviour and resource allocation. It may or may not be intentional, and frequently emerges through a series of incremental adjustments to the opportunities and threats confronted by the firm over time.24
Basically, a strategy is a statement regarding what the company wants to be, and how it plans to get there. More specifically, a strategy represents a pattern of decisions that integrates an organization’s major goals, policies and action steps into a cohesive whole, and guides the allocation of an organization’s resources into a unique and viable posture.” It is an attempt to match the distinctive competencies of a firm with the external environmentZ6
Mintzberg suggests that strategy is best understood by considering five different definitions of the term.” These include strategy as a plan, ploy, pattern, position and perspective. As a plan, strategy is a consciously intended course of action or set of guidelines for dealing with a situation. As a ploy, it is concerned with manoeuvres or marketplace signals designed to outwit competitors. As a pattern, strategy is consistency in a firm’s behaviours over time, whether formally planned or not. As a position, strategy defines where a firm is located in the product-market domain, or relative to its environment. Finally, as a perspective, strategy is a shared outlook in the collective minds of those inside an organization. As we see below, each of these definitions holds implications for marketing as strategy.
Strategy also exists at a number of levels, with one person’s strategies serving as another’s tactics, depending on where each person sits.28 In an organizational context, Schendel and Hofer distinguish strategy at the enterprise, corporate business, functional and subfunctional levels.” In a sense, each of these represents implementation of the one before it. Moreover , compared to functional and subfunctional strategies, those at the enterprise and corporate level can be expected to involve executives positioned at a more senior level, greater amounts of interfunctional negotiation, a longer time-horizon, more risk and a greater resource commitment. 30 For its part, marketing strategy is typically positioned at the functional level.
Underlying the formulation and implementation of strategies is the ongoing process of strategic management, or strategic thinking. Strategic management emphasizes the continuous search for sustainable competitive advantage. It involves ‘managing complexity in ambiguous longer-term, non-routine contexts, with issues that may be organization-wide and fundamental to organizational