Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1.5 hours / session, 2 sessions / week

Course Description

Marketing is the core of an operating business. It is an organizational philosophy and a set of guiding principles for interfacing with customers, competitors, collaborators, and the environment. Marketing entails planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion, and distribution of ideas, goods, and services. It starts with identifying and measuring consumers' needs and wants, assessing the competitive environment, selecting the most appropriate customer targets and developing marketing strategy and implementation program for an offering that satisfies consumers' needs better than the competition. Marketing is the art and science of creating customer value and market place exchanges that benefit the organization and its stakeholders.

Course Objectives

15.810 is the core marketing course in the MBA program at the Sloan School of Management. It is designed to serve as an introduction to the theory and practice of marketing. We will explore the theory and applications of marketing concepts through a mix of cases, discussions, lectures, guest speakers, individual assignments, and group projects. We will draw materials from a variety of sources and settings including services, consumer and business-to-business products.

The main objectives of this course are to improve your ability to:

  1. Assess market opportunities by analyzing customers, competitors, collaborators, context, and the strengths and weaknesses of a company.
  2. Develop effective marketing strategies to achieve organizational objectives.
  3. Design a strategy implementation program to maximize its chance of success.
  4. Communicate and defend your recommendations and critically examine and build upon the recommendations of your classmates both quantitatively and qualitatively.

This course is appropriate for majors in all functional areas of business. While marketing managers develop and implement marketing strategy, managers in other functional areas (finance, management, accounting, and operations) need to understand how marketing strategies impact their own operations. Entrepreneurial ventures and start-ups rarely succeed without an excellent marketing strategy. It is impossible to value a firm and its stocks and bonds, to plan its financial needs, or to establish its credit rating without understanding its revenue sources. Revenues largely come from customers and are a direct consequence of firm marketing strategy.

Course Organization

The first part of the course focuses on situation analysis (5Cs: company, customers, competitors, collaborators, and context), market opportunity identification, and formulating marketing strategy. It introduces the key constructs such as value of products, customers and brands, customer segmentation, and product positioning. Key learnings include a general structure for analyzing marketing problems and some specific quantitative tools. The second part of the course examines how to use these ideas to make specific decisions about the marketing mix (4Ps: product, price, promotion, and place). The course provides the skills needed to design a marketing strategy and its implementation plan.

Marketing courses differ in an important way from most other courses by emphasizing both quantitative and qualitative analyses. Qualitative analysis is important because marketing is, in the end, concerned with behavior of people — consumers, competitors, partners such as salespeople and distributors — that is often difficult to capture in quantitative terms. At the same time, quantitative analysis is invaluable for estimating the expected impact of marketing decisions on customers and firm performance and is critical for communicating with those outside marketing.

This dual nature of marketing makes it complicated as it involves many sources of uncertainty and judgment. You will need to balance both types of analyses when you justify your decisions in class discussion and assignments.


Homework exercises 20%
Group case analysis write-up: Sonance 25%
Final project 25%
Class participation 30%

Group Formation

To get the most out of 15.810, you should form teams to prepare for the cases and to work on group projects. The target size is five (5) people. Group sizes of four and six are viable, but more than six or less than four are strongly discouraged. The basic ideas of marketing transcend national borders: it is essential to be able to analyze and adapt to new environments. To explore these issues and to learn from your fellow classmates, I encourage you to form multinational teams. You will be better able to understand the issues in the cases if your team is drawn from a variety of regions and a variety of experiences.

Class Participation

A significant portion of class time will be devoted to analyzing assigned cases. The case method is one of the most effective means of sharpening your decision-making skills. A successful case discussion requires you to be an active participant. You should read and analyze these cases carefully and come to class prepared to provide your qualitative and quantitative assessments of the situation and arguments for the proposed solution. The situations in the cases are complex. It is likely that your classmates will have different views and opinions about how to deal with the case problem. Real learning takes place when you see how others address a problem about which you have thought carefully. The better you are prepared, the more you learn.

The assigned cases are intended to give you practice in assembling data to support your decision and recommendation. The case discussion format provides an opportunity to argue your position and to learn from others by listening to their comments, analysis, and criticism. You all have different experiences, insights and opinions, and a great deal of what you will learn from the cases will be from each other. It is therefore essential that you be fully prepared for all the cases.

The best way to prepare is to discuss the case within your study group. You will benefit from defending your ideas and you will learn by discussing other group members' approaches. In each session, students will be randomly selected to start the case discussion. Thereafter, the discussion will be open to the entire class. Come prepared with quantitative as well as qualitative analyses of the cases.

Several criteria will be considered when evaluating your class participation:

  • Quality of the class participation is most important. Sheer quantity is neither sufficient nor necessarily desirable.
  • High quality class participation is thoughtful and includes comments that add to our understanding of a situation and help move class discussion forward. It goes beyond mere repetition of case facts or simple truisms.
  • High quality class participation is supported with qualitative and/or quantitative analyses.
  • Your comments should take into account and build on the comments and analyses of your classmates and be relevant to the topic under discussion.
  • You need to be present in class in order to receive a strong class participation score. Tardiness is a hindrance to class discussion and a distraction for your colleagues. Please be on time.