History of the Institute

From the Research Center for Trade at the University of St.Gallen to the Institute of Marketing at the University of St.Gallen

The Research Centre for Trade (FfH-HSG) was founded in 1957 at the Institute of Business Administration (IfB-HSG) as a separate research department. The impulse for the foundation came from the trade practice. It was in particular Dr. Hans Gribi, who worked for the Association of Swiss Wholesalers and Importers (VSGI), who called for Swiss trade research. From the scientific point of view, the foundation was mainly supported by the Director of the Institute of Business Administration, Prof. Dr. Hans Ulrich, and the then President of the Institute, Prof. Dr. Emil Gsell. From 1957 to 1967, the FfH-HSG developed in the areas of university teaching (in the fields of sales and trade), consulting, the issuing of expert reports, and inter-company comparisons in the wholesale and retail trade. The findings were passed on to practice through the annual Swiss Trade Conferences.

In 1967 the FfH-HSG was transformed into the independent Research Institute for Sales and Trade (FAH-HSG) under the direction of Prof. Dr. Heinz Weinhold Stünzi. The extension of the name with the addition “Absatz” (sales) represented an adjustment to the previous activities, as the FfH-HSG was already intensively involved in sales and marketing issues.

Weinhold studied at what was then the University of St. Gallen, obtaining his doctorate in 1956 and his habilitation in 1961 on the subject of “Fundamentals of Economic Sales Management”. In 1963 he became Associate Professor, and from 1965 to 1992 he was Full Professor of Business Administration with special emphasis on sales management. In 1957, he was co-founder and first head of the research centre for trade at the university’s Institute of Business Administration. “Markets are people” is one of his principles that is still valid today. Just as the animal researcher Konrad Lorenz mingled with the grey geese to study their behaviour, Weinhold saw the research approach for marketing and in markets. This research culture still shapes the activities of the institute today.

Weinhold studied at what was then the University of St. Gallen, obtaining his doctorate in 1956 and his habilitation in 1961 on the subject of “Fundamentals of Economic Sales Management”. In 1963 he became Associate Professor, and from 1965 to 1992 he was Full Professor of Business Administration with special emphasis on sales management. In 1957, he was co-founder and first head of the research centre for trade at the university’s Institute of Business Administration. “Markets are people” is one of his principles that is still valid today. Just as the animal researcher Konrad Lorenz mingled with the grey geese to study their behaviour, Weinhold saw the research approach for marketing and in markets. This research culture still shapes the activities of the institute today.

Initially, the activities of the FAH-HSG did not differ from those of the FfH-HSG. However, the course and seminar activities were expanded, especially in the early 1970s. In 1972 the decision was made to streamline the product range and to move to Bodanstrasse 8. All short seminars and events were cancelled because they did not generate enough revenue. Only the longer seminars for the training of sales and marketing managers were retained.

Later, at the request of the Swiss Purchasers Association (SEKV), the seminar for purchasing managers was set up. The earning power of the institute developed so that research projects could be financed increasingly from the institute’s own resources. In addition, support for teaching at the university was expanded in the fields of marketing, trade, sales, advertising, export, market psychology and market sociology, as well as in the general business subjects of performance management and integration seminars.

The specialist publishing house THEXIS with the specialist journal THEXIS (THEorie & PraXIS), today Marketing Review St. Gallen, specialist books, specialist reports was founded in 1984.

In 1991 Prof. Dr. Christian Belz took over the management of the institute. His most important teacher in marketing was his predecessor Prof. Dr. Heinz Weinhold, which led to Weinhold’s research culture and philosophy shaping marketing research under his leadership as well. For Belz, too, exciting research questions arise exclusively in practice, which are interdisciplinary by nature. “Real marketing,” according to Belz, “is problem-oriented, diverse, broad-based, geared to complex dynamic customer processes and open to further developments. “Therefore, thinking in terms of search and tension fields is also essential for him,” says Torsten Tomczak in HSG-Focus 1/2018. This research culture and philosophy, which has been continuously cultivated and developed over more than 50 years, is the main pillar of the Institute’s international success, which is still ongoing today.

Übergabe der Institutsleitung von Prof. Dr. Heinz Weinhold Stünzi an Prof. Dr. Christian Belz

Handover of the Institute management from Prof. Dr. Heinz Weinhold Stünzi to Prof. Dr. Christian Belz

In September 2000, the FAH was renamed the current Institute of Marketing and Retailing (IMH-HSG). In 2004 the Institute moved from Bodanstrasse to ZIG (Central Institute Building, Dufourstrasse 40a).

As of January 1, 2009, the Institute of Marketing and Retailing was successfully divided into one institute and two independent research units: the Institute of Marketing (IfM-HSG), the Center for Retail Management (Gottlieb Duttweiler Chair of International Retail Management, Research Center for Retail Management, Prof. Dr. Thomas Rudolph) and the Center for Customer Insight (now Institute for Customer Insight, Prof. Dr. Dr. hc. Torsten Tomczak).

In 2009, Prof. Dr. Sven Reinecke and Prof. Dr. Marcus Schögel (who resigned from management in February 2020) joined the Institute’s management.

In May 2018 Prof. Dr. Christian Belz gave his farewell lecture “Essence in Marketing”.

In February 2019, Prof. Dr. Christian Hildebrand took over the chairmanship of the Institute as Full Professor of Marketing with focus on Marketing Analystics and gave his inaugural lecture “The Machine Age of Marketing: How Artificial Intelligence Changes How We Think, Act an Decide” on December 17, 2019.

Today the management team consists of Prof. Dr. Christian Hildebrand, Prof. Dr. Sven Reinecke, Prof. Dr. Marcus Schögel, Dr. Michael Betz, and Prof. Dr. Peter Mathias Fischer.

Farewell lecture of Prof. Dr. Christian Belz