Redefining B2B Relationship Marketing: Insight from postmodern Alibaba

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Cockayne, David (2016)

The cultural and philosophical movement of modernism has defined contemporary marketing knowledge, constructing a powerful narrative that has conceptually bound, yet semantically separated business to consumer (B2C) and business to business (B2B) marketing knowledge. Perceived paradigm shifts towards relationships, and the birth of relationship marketing are argued to be no more than an evolution of modern marketing, yet at the heart of relational constructs sit the very features modernism seeks to marginalise in the search for truth and establishment of power structures. Indeed, while B2C marketing has embraced postmodern thinking in consumer culture theory recently, relationship marketing at the B2B level remains conceptually hinged to modern marketing. Using the lens of the postmodern marketing literature, this conceptual paper investigates the rise of China’s Alibaba, and uses this case as a vehicle to argue for relationship marketing knowledge to embrace postmodern thinking and redefine how it should advance in the future.
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