Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Marketing & International Business

First Advisor

Dr Pio Fenton

Second Advisor

Dr Gearóid Ó Súilleabháin


The digitalisation of marketing is the greatest change that the marketing profession has experienced (Kähler & Magnusson, 2018) and digital technologies now sit at the forefront of modern marketing (Thomas & Thomas, 2018). Digital marketing has numerous benefits (Kumar, 2015; Malar, 2016), however, digitalisation is disruptive (Mgiba, 2019) and has resulted in mismatched skills and an increased need for reskilling and upskilling (Bajpai & Biberman, 2019). Accordingly, skills gaps are evident (Crush, 2011; Day, 2011; Hege, 2020; Quinn et al., 2016; Royle & Laing, 2014; Wood, 2011). Notwithstanding, there is a scarcity of research in this area (Raghuraman, 2017; Royle & Laing, 2014) especially in terms of studies which investigate the experiences and challenges of marketers within practice (Brady et al., 2008; Leeflang et al., 2014; Quinn et al., 2016; Reibstein et al., 2009; Valos et al., 2010). This study investigates how the lived experiences of modern marketers provide an insight into the interplay between skills gaps and the digital transformation of marketing. A mixed method approach was utilised. Twenty-six in-depth interviews were employed across two cohorts of marketers. A typical 5-point Likert scale survey questionnaire was then utilised which provided further insight into the data. Finally, two online focus groups allowed the researcher to further explore key findings and to present the descriptive model to an informed group of marketers. The key output of this study is a descriptive model which describes the experiences of modern marketers. This model also details an underlying mindset issue. While marketing skills gaps have been noted in literature the data indicates that skills gaps may not be the pertinent issue. Instead, skills gaps appear symptomatic of a fundamental mindset issue. Study findings suggest a misdiagnosis within literature and shift focus from skills gaps to mindset. Furthermore, the role of career stage is accentuated as dissimilar mindsets became evident as early and later career marketers displayed divergent foci. Both early and later career marketers appear focused on the elements of marketing which are aligned to their mindset, while a subsequent lack of knowledge and skills in the areas outside the scope of their mindset became apparent. Study findings also provide a more nuanced insight into literature and suggest that the marketing profession should not be viewed as a homogenous group as issues may not be pervasive to marketing. Instead, they appear to vary based on career stage. Study findings have potential implications across numerous areas such as policy, education and practice, while this study provides a foundation on which future research can build upon.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Marketing Commons