Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science

, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp 100–114 | Cite as

A holistic market conceptualization

  • Cristina MeleEmail author
  • Jaqueline Pels
  • Kaj Storbacka
Conceptual/Theoretical Paper


Mainstream marketing’s view on markets builds on neoclassical economics. By integrating mainstream marketing thinking with the emergent marketing literature that acknowledges a set of shortcomings related to the neoclassical-based market conceptualization, this paper aims to provide a market conceptualization that captures complexity. Grounded on the etymology of the word market, we review literature and identify two market dimensions: market-as-noun and market-as-verb; and four distinct themes: market entities (referring to which actors are involved), market representation (regarding how markets are signified), market performing (referring to what actions are carried out), and market sense-making (concerning how markets emerge and evolve). Each theme has several elements. The proposed market conceptualization allows market complexity to be addressed by integrating conventional and new market forms. It also offers new avenues for research and invites managers to emancipate themselves from product-based market thinking, to create subjective market definitions and to think in terms of non-predictive strategies.


Market Market conceptualization Market complexity Market shaping Market driving 



The authors would like to thank Lisa Abendroth, Rod Brodie, Tomas Kidd, Suvi Nenonen, Thomas Hult and three anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments on the paper.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Università Degli Studi di Napoli Federico IINaplesItaly
  2. 2.Universidad Torcuato Di TellaBuenos AiresArgentina
  3. 3.University of Auckland Business SchoolAucklandNew Zealand

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