|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Lord Holme of Cheltenham: My Lords, we support both orders. It is worth while saying that we are grateful for the Bradley Review. We shall respond to it. I believe that there are some useful recommendations on which this matter is based. It is good that the Government have tackled electoral malpractice both in terms of medical forms and absentee voter registration. The noble Lord implied in what he said that there is remaining the problem of voter intimidation. When the Minister responds I shall be grateful to hear from him what the Government intend to do about what is the most blatant threat to the emergence of civil society and the kind of democratic institutions that we have been debating over the past few hours in your Lordships' House. Intimidation is the greatest single threat.
Lord Molyneaux of Killead: My Lords, I have no doubt that the extension from 11 to 14 days, giving three extra days in which to scrutinise applications, will be a great help. It may ease the pressure on the chief electoral officer and his hard-worked staff. An even greater easement would be the decentralisation of the process, making full use of the regional or constituency returning officers who remain in place, not to mention no fewer than 26 district council officers who are similarly qualified.
I simply cannot understand why the chief electoral officer refuses to consider this sensible course, but then complains of the burden imposed on him. I know that he feels very strongly because, in company with the then Northern Ireland Minister, one Nicholas Scott, he fought
Lord Dubs: My Lords, I am grateful for the comments that have been made. Clearly, intimidation is a criminal offence. Where there is evidence of it then the RUC will act accordingly. Whether we can find more evidence that intimidation is taking place is rather more difficult. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Holme, that the Bradley Review on administering elections in Northern Ireland is fairly comprehensive. I believe that, in the context of the review, we can take fully into account the points made by the noble Lord.
As regards the decentralisation of procedures suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Molyneaux, we are consulting on the administration of elections in Northern Ireland. It would be appropriate for his points to be taken into account as part of that consultation process.
Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, tightening up on absent votes is one of the best ways to restrict intimidation. It is only through an absent vote that the intimidator can see the ballot paper and make sure that what he wishes to be done is carried out or that the threat can be carried out. However, in the secrecy of the polling booth it is much more difficult to practise intimidation.
Lord Dubs: My Lords, I take the noble Lord's point. As I have said, intimidation is an offence and if we can gather evidence of it the RUC will act accordingly. But there may be other aspects of intimidation which it would still be worthwhile considering as part of the review. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Cope, for his comments.
The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I begin by thanking the usual channels for giving us valuable parliamentary time at the end of a long and arduous Session to permit us to have this important debate this evening. I am sorry that as it is so late certain Members
I turn to the matter in hand. I have framed this Unstarred Question deliberately wide in order to enable us to have a truly wide-ranging debate on this most important subject: marketing and its fundamental importance to business success. I believe that it is the first time that there has been such a debate in this House. There certainly has not been one during the seven years I have been a Member. That is both sad and fairly predictable. It is sad because it indicates that the subject is not as highly regarded as, say, animal welfare or salmon fishing in Scotland. It is predictable because I believe that governments, of whatever persuasion, have never been persuaded of the value of marketing. I hope that things are changing.
This Government have shown themselves to be brilliantly successful marketers in the utterly professional way they planned their marketing campaign to the electors in the spring of 1997. They developed a new product; they listened to their customers; they organised excellent research programmes; and executed--I use the word advisedly--a campaign which really worked. If they applied the same strategy and tactics to the re-energising of manufacturing industry there would be no deep-seated concern about current exchange rate levels or interest rates. Perhaps it is not too cheeky for my first question to the Minister to be phrased thus: do the Government intend to lay as much emphasis on marketing while in government as they did while preparing for government?
The Government should be convinced of the benefits that accrue from good marketing. The Minister's right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and the Minister himself were marketers of considerable ability in their previous existence. That gives me reason to hope that marketing will play a pivotal role in all their discussions both here and in the EC forum. Making the best use of talents is so important; the DTI now has at least two Ministers with strong and proven marketing talents. When are they going to use them to endorse the importance of marketing in the business life of this country?
Noble Lords speaking in the debate tonight have wide and varied experience in marketing. The wording of the Question accepts that marketing contributes to business success. I am sure that each one of our speakers tonight subscribes to that. However, many businesses still do not realise its importance. Is there any way that the Government, using their powers of communication and persuasion, can get the message across?
The Privy Council has recently approved the granting by the institute of individual chartered marketer status, which entails the continual uprating of skills; in other words, continual education and lifetime learning. Those chartered marketers operate throughout the country and will certainly provide a collective impetus for improving marketing standards in business. Recent research indicated that some 44 per cent. of company directors would be very keen to employ chartered marketers as their marketing directors, reinforcing the view that it is essential to condition ourselves to lifetime learning and the continual uprating of skills.
Possibly one reason marketing is not given as high a profile as it should is that there is a basic misunderstanding of what it really is. I know that there is no such misunderstanding in the minds of the contributors to tonight's debate, but, for the record, perhaps it will not come amiss to state what I believe to be a good definition of marketing. Marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably; in other words, getting the right goods, at the right quality, to the right customer at the right time and at the right price. What marketing is not is finding ways of getting rid of products produced without due regard either to markets or to consumer research.
Marketing is the cerebral research and analytical function which anticipates consumer and customer needs and puts in train the process to supply those needs. Input into design, engineering, production, distribution, pricing and selling should all be within the ambit of the marketing remit in business. I am not saying that marketers must be engineers or production managers but they must be there when the original decisions about the products are actually taken. Good marketing can help in those functions and, indeed, should so help.
A recent study by the Wharton Business School in the United States showed that the top 1,000 most successful US companies laid serious and heavy emphasis on marketing. We honestly need such emphasis here. It grieves me that so few of our companies have marketing on the agenda at their board meetings. It should certainly have equal pegging with finance and personnel because, not to put too fine a point on it, without marketing, there will be no finance and personnel because there will not be a business.
The message of the importance of marketing is slowly getting through to British companies but there is still a long way to go. For example, 49 per cent. of the top 200 companies in this country have a marketing director on the board whereas 88 per cent. of the top 200 companies have a finance director on the board.
We lead by example in so many international fields. There are thousands of examples of excellent, state-of-the-art marketing achievements in the UK. But business in that context does not necessarily mean commerce or manufacturing industry. It embraces all manner of services--the arts, education and sport, just to mention a few. We have speakers on those subjects this evening.
The Government are committed to highlighting excellence as a means of encouraging by example. Will the Minister give a commitment that he will do all he can to ensure that marketing is highlighted? I make three suggestions. I should be grateful for a response from the Government because I have indicated already to the Minister that I shall make those suggestions.
When he launches the White Paper, it would be great if he mentioned the fact that marketing underpins British business success, and it would be even better if he gave a massive push for marketing in the White Paper. I do so hope that that will happen. If it does, this debate will have been worthwhile.
One of the Government's initiatives has been the establishment of Business Links. The Business Link movement recognises that it has insufficient marketing experience and is probably scratching around looking for such expertise. The Chartered Institute of Marketing proposes that a series of regional centres of marketing excellence, using the expertise of both the marketing faculties of regional universities such as Warwick, Cranfield, Strathclyde, Manchester and the London Business School, and the excellent facilities provided by the institute itself in Maidenhead could be the pivot around which Business Links could operate. I have not gone into that suggestion in any great detail but it would seem to be logical and probably efficient and effective. Thirdly, I should like to see that benchmarking of companies by the DTI is continued. It started in 1996, and I would make a very strong point about benchmarking those 1,000 companies from a marketing point of view.
Baroness Scotland: My Lords, I should like to take this opportunity to thank the noble Baroness, Lady O'Cathain, for instigating this debate and also the Members from all sides of your Lordships' House for the warmth of the welcome and the help that I have received since my Introduction last November. The noble Baroness has by no means been least among those who have given me help, succour and a great deal of encouragement.
I should also like to take this opportunity to trespass upon your Lordships' time to say a particular thank-you to the Attendants and to the Doorkeepers. They have been my constant companions in the last year. One of my finer qualities is not, I am afraid, powers of direction. They have benignly and indulgently watched me go round and round in circles before shepherding me safely in the right direction.
That warmth is something upon which I now seek to draw for comfort in making my maiden speech. Some may question why it has taken me so long to rise to my feet to speak. I am one of 12 children and my family would, if asked--in fact, they would probably volunteer to do so--assure your Lordships that I seem to have an innate inability to do anything at what is usually considered by others to be the proper time. I finished my degree at the age of 20. I was called to the Bar at the age of 21; became the youngest woman to take Silk at the age of 35 and last year became the first Afro-Caribbean and youngest person to be elected as a Bencher of Middle Temple. My family had come to fear that such undue haste and lack of appreciation for what is due to age had become a fixed and well-established feature of my character. But I can assure your Lordships that I rise now halt of limb and burdened with my ever-increasing years safe in the knowledge that, on this occasion, I am neither the youngest nor the first but in all probability one of the last of my vintage to do so.
I welcome this opportunity to address the issue of marketing in the United Kingdom as we approach the new millennium. During the time I have been privileged to be a Millennium Commissioner, I have had the advantage and the joy of seeing at first hand the extraordinary skill and wealth of talent which is evident throughout our country. I have been struck by the quality and diversity of the contributions made by all sectors of our community.
Britain is now a truly multi-cultural society benefiting from peoples who hail from every corner of the globe. That diversity has enriched and changed the nature of who and what can truly be described as British. We have an internal multifaceted customer base with whom to explore new ideas. Creating products which address the needs and tastes of our disparate peoples enables our industry to develop the skills and sensitivity with which to assist our entrepreneurs to meet the challenges
As in all marketing, getting the image right is vital to positioning Britain itself in our rapidly changing world markets. Therefore, exploiting our internal markets, taking advantage of our diversity and the richness of our people and marketing that globally can do nothing other than enhance the value of our markets, the market share and indeed the good opinion in which this country is held. I note that my four minutes are up. I shall not trespass further upon your Lordships' time, notwithstanding the several sheaves with which I had intended to delight you!
Lord Saatchi: My Lords, it is a pleasure and privilege to follow the maiden speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Scotland. If I may say so, it is easy to discern from that speech why she has risen so brilliantly in her profession. The crisp insights that we heard in her brief four minutes are, I hope, only a taste of what your Lordships' House can look forward to on many occasions in the future.
When my noble friend suggested that I might speak in this debate as a practitioner in marketing, of course I said yes, but I knew at the time that I would approach this subject with some trepidation because I stand before your Lordships as one whose profession perches perilously somewhere along the continuum between perception and reality.
At first glance there seems to be no answer to the question of whether what we do in marketing is rooted in perception or reality. All of us know that the sensations produced by the same object can vary with the circumstances. Lukewarm water will appear hot to a cold hand, and cold to a hot hand. Colours look different under a microscope. Even the sun in the heavens we see only as it was eight minutes before.
Even the perception of physical objects cannot be relied on. The great philosopher Descartes said he could not be sure that the table at which he was sitting was really there because the only thing about which he could be certain was that while he was thinking that the table might not be there after all, it was definite he was there looking at it, because he thought he was.
It was in the third dream of Rene Descartes on 10th November 1619, in the small Bavarian village of Ulm, that he foresaw a universal method by which all human problems whether of science, law or politics,
As your Lordships know, scholars in the humanities have long sought a set of general, testable, explanatory propositions applicable to the whole area of collective human behaviour. Men of business have been quick to see the commercial merit in adopting as a "science" what is now known as marketing. Yet today people are suspicious of marketing and its handmaiden advertising, and it is easy to see why. When Descartes himself doubted the existence of the table at which he was sitting, or his own existence for that matter, he knew who to blame--the "demon" which deceived his reason so that he took false statements to be self-evidently true. Nothing, he said, escapes the demon's reach.
Some people see advertising and marketing as these arch-deceivers--mind-altering substances on which more money is spent than on all the drugs produced by the pharmaceutical industry put together. Yet today most people perceive themselves to be better off to buy advertised goods. Is that belief an illusion? Take detergents, for example. At first sight Ariel and Persil are similar products in different boxes. Therefore the levels of loyalty they command from their adherents must be irrational. The owners of these two brands, Unilever and Procter & Gamble, dominate the global detergent market with their images for these brands. That is proof, the critics would say, of the power of advertising to control the public mind.
I cannot deny that the object of the exercise with these brands is to build their reputations so that their customers are loyal and will refuse all substitutes. However, it is precisely from the competition to create those image monopolies that better products and services emerge. Competition through advertising for the favour of consumers helps to create the pressure for innovation. That is why advertising, which is usually seen as a weapon that helps only the advertiser, makes one of its least recognised contributions to society. It is a two-edged weapon. It acts on the told, but reacts on the teller because it focuses such attention on his product claims that every effort has to be made to make them true.
It is important to say that the thinking process--the noble Baroness, Lady O'Cathain, referred to the cerebral process--involved in developing marketing programmes has an excellent effect on the idea or thing being advanced. Its action is that of a threshing machine; it sorts the intellectual wheat from the chaff. I assure noble Lords that those thoughts arise from a process that is at least similar to the Darwinian method of scientific discovery: tests and refutations, selection by elimination, so that only the fittest theories survive. The result flows from a developed carefulness and attention to detail, a habit of being clear, a sceptical perusal of alleged facts--
Back to Table of Contents
Lords Hansard Home Page