Sophie Morin-Delerm: Innovation converges with marketing and responsible development

Researcher portraits Article published on June 05 2020 , Updated on September 22 2020

Elected Director of the University Institute of Technology (IUT) de Sceaux in 2016, Sophie Morin-Delerm is also researcher at the laboratory for Networks, Innovation, Territories and Globalisation (RITM - Université Paris-Saclay). Specialist in marketing, her research addresses the discipline from different angles and explores niche markets. Her substantial work, including articles, papers and books, is recognised internationally. In parallel, she teaches students with diverse profiles.

In 2009, Sophie Morin-Delerm, professor of management science, defended a thesis to obtain authorisation to conduct Higher Degree Research (HDR). It was entitled: Will sustainability be soluble in marketing and innovation? and demonstrated the links between the three fields. Awarded university aggregation (France’s highest teaching diploma) in 2012, she joined Université Paris-Sud (now Université Paris-Saclay) and the RITM laboratory after ten years at Jean Monnet faculty in Sceaux and four years at the Conservatoire national des arts et métiers (CNAM).

A substantial part of her time is spent managing the IUT de Sceaux and teaching a wide audience, including undergraduates, apprentices and master’s students. But research is also a high priority. "As a marketing specialist, I address the subject from different perspectives: innovation with marketing tests during the product launch process; sustainable development with communication in the mass-market retail sector or in higher education institutions; and niche markets, such as monastery products," explains Sophie Morin-Delerm.

Her research work is regularly published in international ranked journals and papers, and features in reference books for students and marketing and innovation professionals.

Marketing adapts to innovative products in a changing environment

Innovation marketing - or marketing adapted to innovation - fascinates Sophie Morin-Delerm. Innovation is now a major concern for most companies and marketing must adapt accordingly.

" We have observed that marketing logic often focuses on the product these days. It is moving away from traditional marketing approaches based on the analysis of demand in the past, explains Sophie Morin-Delerm. Hyperconsumption is a key feature of our economies, even if there is a new trend towards more restrained and responsible consumption. An overabundance of goods and services means supply often generates demand.” Innovation is therefore crucial for offering more and more new products. But in a saturated market where competition is fierce and rates of commercial failure are high, marketing specialised in innovative products is a competitive key: consumer demand must be stimulated even more, with respect for expectations.

Sophie Morin-Delerm is particularly interested in the role of marketing in the development and launch phases of innovation. "Marketing ensures that the market is considered at each stage of development. It also ensures that innovation is marketed and distributed to promote value to potential demanding customers," she explains. And this is regardless of whether innovation is generated by new technology, changing business habits and models, or not. And regardless of the degree of innovation compared to existing products. "Practical application varies from company to company, but the questions, strategic choices and methods are fundamentally similar, regardless of the industry, company culture, size or degree of international activity," concludes the researcher.

Monastery products - innovation supports tradition in a niche product range

Sophie Morin-Delerm is also passionate about marketing monastery products: "It’s an original theme that may seem miles away from innovation marketing! But in fact, the market is being reviewed from a new perspective,” she enthuses. France’s monastery economy, based on Benedictine traditions dating back to the 6th century, is suffering. The religious population is aging, the buildings are deteriorating, and donations and subsidies are declining. To overcome these problems, market activity is more necessary than ever. Monks are developing innovative food and cosmetics products to reflect the current trend in responsible consumption including themes such as respect for the environment, authenticity, traceability and purpose.

With her co-author Marie-Catherine Paquier, researcher at the interdisciplinary laboratory for research into the science of human action (LIRSA - Conservatoire national des arts et métiers), Sophie Morin-Delerm used data collected from several monasteries to show that innovation boosts loyalty to traditions in this context. Semi-structured interviews with customers of religious outlets, both physical and virtual, demonstrated the importance of the buying environment: buying in an abbey store is exalted by the monastery context, which the digital experience lacks. "An abbey store conveys purpose, encouraging monastery managers to improve the atmosphere of their ecommerce sites. Ecommerce sites must be steeped in the image and heritage of monasteries to develop customer attachment to the physical monastery site," concluded Sophie Morin-Delerm.

Whether expressing modernity or serving tradition, innovation requires market-sensitive and responsible marketing according to Sophie Morin-Delerm. Organisations must consider these conditions for future challenges.