What matters more: Merchandising or marketing?

I realize the answer probably depends on your background in retailing, but you can tell from my RetailWire comment that I have a point of view on this one:

With all due credit to marketing consistency, I think it’s overrated as the key driver of customer loyalty — at least in this survey. Communicating to customers — wherever they look for marketing messages — is an important building block in branding, but it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Marketing needs to function alongside merchandise content, pricing strategies, customer service and so forth — and in a consistent way with the other pieces of the retail puzzle — in order to turn a satisfied customer into a committed one.

By the way, since retailers are in the business of selling goods and services…isn’t merchandise content (the right product in stock when the customer wants it) the most important attribute? If stores don’t execute this, does marketing matter?

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