What We Know, Don’t Know and Should Know about Confusion Marketing

Edward Kasabov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – The purpose of the paper is to bring to the attention of academics the innovations which have rapidly been developed to sell goods and services across sectors using what the authors describe as “confusion marketing”.
Design/methodology/approach – This is a conceptual, integrative, critical assessment of a number of marketing disciplines addressing aspects of confusion marketing. Confusion practices are evolving rapidly, with little theoretical explanation of why many of them are successful. This paper seeks to
answer such questions by examining a wide range of sectors and confusion practices.
Findings – Patterns are identified across sectors, companies and business practices, providing the basis for this holistic assessment of marketing research on confusion since its inception and the design of a systemic framework of confusion.
Research limitations/implications – The study attempts to bring all marketing schools and traditions of confusion together and presents a synthesis of scholarly accomplishments in the area by matching them, where possible, to current practices. It advances extant literature by designing a systemic framework which has, so far, been absent in marketing and by identifying avenues for future research maturation.
Practical implications – This discussion challenges assumptions regarding the ethicality, sustainability and profitability of confusion practices. Businesses practicing confusion are successful, suggesting that such practices may be economically sustainable. Contrary to expectations in marketing, confusion seems to benefit some consumers; confusion practices are not necessarily
unethical or detrimental.
Originality/value – Confusion is a controversial area in marketing. Although the literature on confusion has grown, extant research continues to concentrate on consumers’ perceptions of confusion and tends to assume that confusion practices are undesirable, unethical and unsustainable. This paper provides a first integrative critical analysis of marketing thinking and challenges the aforementioned literature assumptions, demonstrating that past research has not sufficiently explained the nature, consequences and success of confusion marketing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1777-1808
Number of pages32
JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
Issue number11/12
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


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