Roger WhitesideMore than 400 marketing experts from around the world will descend on Newcastle from the 4th to the 7th of July for the most influential and prestigious conference in the European marketing sector.

Newcastle Business School at Northumbria University, which was recently named Business School of the Year in the Times Higher Education (THE) Awards, will bring together the brightest and best research and current thinking from global marketing experts at The Academy of Marketing Conference 2016.

This is the first time Newcastle Business School has hosted the four-day event, now in its 49th year.

The theme for 2016 is ‘Radical Marketing’ as an emerging concept which will combine leading research and practice in contemporary marketing and consumer behaviour and also showcase cutting-edge advances which challenge the traditional status quo.

Representing the business community, the programme includes a keynote presentation from Greggs CEO Roger Whiteside, titled ‘Time to get Radical’. He will give delegates an insight into the Greggs journey from enhancing the brand and new product development, to redefining the customer proposition and reinforcing the company’s position as the UK’s leading food-on-the-go retailer.

He said: “Greggs is a much loved and trusted brand with a strong bakery heritage. In recent years the market we operate in and our customers’ expectations have undergone huge change resulting in our traditional business model coming under pressure. It was time to get radical!

“The Greggs brand and customer experience is undergoing a radical transformation as we move from our traditional bakery base to a modern, attractive food-on-the-go retailer.  Understanding our customers’ needs and audience segmentation has been key to our new strategy.

“Our new plan is working but the market around us is fiercely competitive and changing fast – ultimately we win by understanding our customers and delivering their needs better than our competitors – however radical that needs to be.

“Given Greggs’ strong links with Newcastle Business School and its North East roots, I feel privileged to have been invited to share Greggs’ journey at an event which celebrates the region and showcases its successes to marketeers from across the world.”

Professor of Marketing Research at Ulster University, Stephen Brown, billed as the Luke Skywalker of marketing scholarship, is also likely to set the conference alight with his academic keynote presentation on ‘Confessions of a Radical Reactionary’.

Professor of Strategic Marketing Management at Newcastle Business School and 2016 Academy of Marketing Chair, Fraser McLeay, said: “Marketing has evolved over time to meet the constantly changing environment in which it operates.

“What we consider today to be contemporary marketing practices including viral marketing, building virtual brand communities and the use of social media to promote a product, service or brand would never have been envisaged a couple of decades ago.

“However a focus on understanding customer needs and segmentation, targeting and positioning remains true to the founding theories of the marketing tradition. Our Radical Marketing theme spans both the traditional and the truly innovative.

“It’s an honour for Newcastle Business School to host this year’s conference. This is the showcase event of the year for marketeers and provides an international platform for leading academics to present and discuss their research and for colleagues and students alike to hear and learn from the very best.

“The North East of England may not be well known for radical marketing, but it has developed more than its fair share of innovative and radical new products and services from Robert Stephenson’s Rocket locomotive to Thomas Swan, who is pioneering the UK commercial production of Graphene, a Nobel Prize winning material that is 200 times stronger than steel.”

More than 400 academic papers from 39 countries have been submitted to this year’s event. The programme also includes The Academy of Marketing Doctoral Colloquium which will be the largest ever, with 48 students giving presentations and receiving mentoring on their PhDs and DBAs from experienced researchers.

Newcastle Business School aims to bring together the brightest and best research and ideas in contemporary marketing, whether they are built on traditional marketing theories and practices or breaking completely new ground.

It is the first institution in Europe to be awarded double AACSB accreditation in business and accounting and with more undergraduate programmes accredited by EPAS than any other UK university, Newcastle Business School is a vibrant and dynamic leader in business education internationally.