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Marketing managers in the age of AI: A multiple-case study of B2C firms
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
2019 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The growing capacity of artificial intelligence (AI) has been compared to how electricity transformed our world and industries a hundred years ago. AI is changing the rules, roles and tools of marketing, as marketing is one of the most prosperous areas to implement AI in. Accordingly, the role of marketing manager is expected to transform to a large extent. This calls for further research, since the area appears underexplored in relation to its weight of importance. Thus, the main purpose of this thesis is to contribute to the literature in marketing and management by exploring the ongoing transformation of the role of marketing managers. In order to fulfill this purpose, the following research question was formulated:

How is the role of marketing managers in B2C-firms affected by increased levels of AI-capacity?

In order to answer this question, a qualitative multiple-case study was conducted through semi-structured interviews with three marketing managers with experience of AI-usage in their field, as well as three experts at the intersection of AI and marketing. This triangulation was conducted to attain a nuanced and complementary view of the investigated area.

The findings of this study suggest that increased levels of AI-capacity affect the role of marketing managers in B2C-firms both externally and internally. First, the increased usage of AI-technologies allows for better financial accountability of marketing managers, thus marketing managers can avert a greater influence in top management. Increased AI-capacity further implicates marketing in the way that marketing becomes more relevant, as well as opening new possibilities to build stronger relationships with customers. Further implicating the role of marketing managers are the evolving AI-assistants, in which the findings of this study suggest that they will increasingly become a crucial distribution channel and consequently, brands will increase in importance. This stands in contrast to previous research, which suggests as the AI-assistant solely base their decision on facts; focus should be shifted towards optimizing value propositions towards the AI-assistants, instead of the consumer. The findings of this study suggest that optimization towards the AI-assistants will indeed be crucial. But as more firms do so, the competitive advantage will be reduced to a hygiene factor, since all actors optimize in the same way, as was the case when search engine optimization grew and saturated. Thus, brand building will once again become a highly important decision-criterion among consumers.

Further, as customer data collection is a major component in the usage of AI-technologies in marketing, the findings of this study suggest marketing managers will increasingly work with establishing transparent policies that benefit the customers. Moreover, increased usage of AItechnologies further demands marketing managers to be sufficiently knowledgeable in technology. As the responding experts believe AI-technologies are unlikely to replicate human EQ, intuition and creativity for a foreseeable future, marketing managers will still be vital to firms. This because the responding marketing managers reported these capabilities to be highly crucial in their role.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. , p. 79
Keywords [en]
artificial intelligence, machine learning, decision-making, marketing, marketing manager, MarTech
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-161285OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-161285DiVA, id: diva2:1333578
Educational program
Master's Programme in Marketing
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2019-07-02 Created: 2019-07-01 Last updated: 2019-07-02Bibliographically approved

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