In the 1950s Neil Borden popularised the term marketing mix which contained more than ten elements of marketing. The fundamental among them was the 4 Ps of marketing. Later in the 1960s, Jerome McCarthy devised the 7 Ps model, refining the essentials from the marketing mix. Over time many Ps have been crystallized like 5Ps, 8Ps, etc. But the 4Ps of marketing are like the purest crystal which cannot be refined further. Every other Ps-model is either an expansion or modification of the original 4Ps. We may add two or more Ps to the 4Ps, but we can’t move a P out of it. Hence, it is the bedrock of marketing of any kind.
We will examine in this article why the 4Ps are indispensable for a marketing executive today and how they still hold with the marketing of intangible and tangible products :
Table Of contents
- What is Marketing Mix?
- Who invented the 4 Ps of marketing?
- What factors determine the marketing mix?
- Importance of 4 Ps Marketing
- Elements of Marketing Mix – The 4 Ps
- Which of the 4 Ps is most important?
- Why is Product the most important in the 4 Ps of the marketing mix?
- 4 P’s of marketing examples
- Some Additional Ps of Marketing mix
- How to design an effective marketing mix?
What is Marketing Mix?
The very purpose of marketing is to make your promising customers aware of your products. A marketing mix is the set of those factors which a company can leverage to make the consumer purchase its products. As the term suggests, it is indeed a mix of many tactical marketing tools. The role of the marketing executive is to prepare the right combination to bring out the excellent synergy between the product and the targeted audience.
Marketing mix usually refers to the set of 4Ps viz. Product, price, Promotion, Place. But theoretically, the marketing mix is a much broader term. Often the three additional Ps– process, people, physical evidence is also added and called 7 Ps of Marketing. The role of the marketing mix is to synthesize the visible and invisible qualities of a product with the aspirations of the targeted clients. The marketing mix for a manufactured product will be different from that of a product as a service.
Who invented the 4 Ps of marketing?
It was Neil Borden who first popularized the idea of the marketing mix in the 1950s. Borden defined a marketing executive as somebody who fuses ingredients to make the right recipe for marketing a product. Later, it was E.Jerome McCarthy who sublimated the concept of 4Ps of marketing from Borden’s ideas of a marketing mix.
McCarthy had highlighted that the 4Ps viz. Product, price, promotion, and place are the initial control elements that are available to shape a marketing plan. He also articulated the changing of the balances of these variables in a long-term perspective with the product remaining the hardest to change.
What factors determine the marketing mix?
Any company which intends to find the right pitch for their product needs to consider an array of factors before setting out to do it. The marketing mix for any product will be determined by two factors viz.
It includes the factors which lie within the organization or are concerned with the inner atmosphere of the firm. The internal factors are primarily :
- Nature of products
- Product stages in its overall life cycle
- Availability of funds
- Company objectives
External Factors are concerned with the factors outside the organization. They include the following aspects :
- Degree of competition
- Efficiency of channel
- The buying behavior of a consumer
- Control from the government side
Importance of 4Ps Marketing
The core marketing mix fundamentals based on 4 Ps will enhance the success of your products by passing on the following benefits :
It creates synergy
The four Ps of Marketing: Product, Price, Promotion, Place when blended properly creates coordination that gives the right pitch to the product. It follows the principle: ”the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
Brand loyalty and value
Since the approach focuses on the needs of the customers and their satisfaction the product consequently earns consumer loyalty and esteem.
Serves as a link
The product features, pricing, and place strive to factor in the expectations of a customer. The promotional aspects give to the customer what your company proposes to offer and thus position the products better. Thus a link is being forged between the consumer and the organization.
Enables proper integration
The designing of the 4 Ps needs critical thinking and perceptiveness. If they are merged correctly, then your product will find a unique space in the customer’s mind.
The interdependence and the overarching nature of one element over another guide you in decision-making. For example: if your product pricing is high, then in your promotional activity, you will have to target well-off customers, and your product design must be quality-based. The channels of distribution and location etc. will also be guided by this decision.
Higher sales volume
The result of all the efforts is higher customer satisfaction and greater market share which is compounded by an increase in the sale of the products.
Elements of Marketing Mix- the 4 Ps
Now let us discuss the four fundamental elements of the marketing mix which are the Product, Pricing, Promotion, and Place.
A product is the heart of the marketing mix. All marketing activities begin with the product. The product is not a physical entity alone; it captures the whole tangible and intangible aspects like services, personality, organization, and ideas.
Without a product, we have nothing to price, promote or place. Hence, of all the 4 Ps the Product is the most elemental P.
Here, it is essential to understand the term product mix concerning marketing. The product mix is the whole range of products a company offers to its customers. Say, for instance, Apple an authority in electronic brand commands loyalty as a pioneer of mobile technology and e-devices. Suppose, Apple decides to expand its product line with a new Apple sports shoe. Thus the product mix of Apple.Inc will cover mobile phones, tablets, iPods, watches, and the new one in line with the Apple shoes.
The decisions regarding product mix will depend on many factors like :
- Brand name
- Product variety
- Packaging, returns, etc.
Price is the monetary value that has to be paid by a customer to acquire or own the product of a company. It is the critical revenue-generating component of the firm.
Pricing decisions should be taken with great care, as it is a double-edged sword. If your product is priced too high, it may exude a feeling of high quality. At the same time, it will make your product placed in limited and standard stores. So the marketer must know the art of wielding this dangerous sword of pricing.
The pricing mix decisions need to consider the below marketing variables:
- Methods of pricing; policies; strategies
- Discounts, rebates
- Payment period
- Credit policy
The pricing strategy of your organization must align with the overall goal of your organization to blend smoothly. Whether you want market penetration or skim overall this depends on your pricing strategy.
It aims to serve two objectives. One, it informs the potential customers about your product and secondly, it persuades them to buy your product. The promotion mix will thus include the various means that you can use to communicate with the target audience. An effective promotion mix will ensure good sales and a marketer must strive to create a conducive environment.
The main elements of a promotion mix are:
- Personal selling
- Public relations
- Direct marketing
- Publicity -social media, print, etc.
- Sales promotion
- Place (or Distribution)
Place or physical distribution deals with the transfer of ownership of the product from the manufacturer to the customer.
The margin of your profit depends on how quickly you can turn over the goods. The more swiftly the products reach the point of sale, the more likely are the chances of satisfying the customers and increasing brand loyalty. Hence the Place factor is crucial in ensuring your product’s competitiveness in the market.
The following are the elements of a distribution mix :
- Channels of distribution
- Warehousing decision
- Product handling
- Inventory control
- Order processing
Which of the 4 Ps is most important?
Now, that we know the 4Ps which entails the marketing process, it is time to pinpoint the one that could make or break it for you. Some marketing managers feel that promotion is the key to increasing sales. But advertising is about presenting utility. You cannot promote good health through junk food products.
The pricing is, in reality, a matter of quality, and distribution is also dependent on the target customers. But target customers decide the quality of the product and its pricing, but what ultimately identifies the target customers? It is your product idea, the product you have conceived. It is the starting point of all thought processes, hence the most important of all Ps.
Why is Product the most important in the 4 Ps of the marketing mix?
The choice of your product is going to be the foundation for developing other three Ps viz Pricing, Promotion, and Place. Therefore, while choosing your product, thorough research on some key aspects is needed.
Your inquiry should investigate the needs that the product will serve; the age group that it will benefit the most; the change it will make in the consumer’s life; the naming criteria; players who are already selling similar products; their strategies and how different can you pitch your product.
4 P’s of marketing examples
If you find the discussion on 4 Ps too wordy, let’s go through some examples.
The first P stands for Product. For example, a KFC chicken product will include the look of the food, the shiny red buckets with the smiling face of Colonel Sanders, the wording on the combo pack like “Friendship Bucket,” “Triple Treat.”The second P, pricing strategies have been used by Jio Reliance company in India to get the deepest penetration. It almost washed away all the mobile service providers.
The third P is the Promotion, for example, Coke leveraged the World cup 2010 and K’naan’s theme song so much that, Coca-Cola and football have all become synonymous. The Place or Distribution is the fourth P. Examples: Apple iPhones are found easily in renowned e-commerce stores like Amazon and not in Zepo and less known stores.
Some Additional Ps of Marketing mix
Technology is transforming the very nature of marketing. It is not only creating new avenues to market your products but new kinds of products hitherto never seen. We cannot hold software in our hands, yet we know that they are earning millions of dollars. In the world of e-commerce marketing is no more a stagnant field, and you need to keep a lookout for the latest digital marketing trends. So some additional Ps are discussed to fine-tune marketing with the tide of the time.
The people are of two categories. One, those who are inside the organization include your employees from the lowest rank to the top. They are the bricks that sustain the whole structure.
Secondly, they include external people or customers. The customers are the very purpose of your organization. Their need is your work and their satisfaction your ultimate reward.
It involves the range of activities involved in the creation and delivery of goods. The need to improve and upgrade technology today is indisputable. The very competence of your product depends on the efficiency of your process. The speed of production, quality, numbers, etc all revolve around process efficiency.
A program that will include the traditional 4Ps with the new requirements of time is necessary to keep floating with the latest developments. The new range of marketing activities should take into account the nature of the product, the targeted audience, the offline and traditional elements of marketing, etc.
It is the overall deciding factor. The performance of a firm in the various attributes like goodwill, market share, loyalty, etc will have both financial as well as other implications. These attributes will further help in guiding your organization’s decisions for future expansion or corrections in the current strategy.
It has become one of the decisive factors in building a brand image in public. An attractive bottling can merely make your product unique as more and more people are into social media. The beer bottle model of Park Avenue shampoo attracts the eye and makes you buy it just for the sake of the feel that packaging creates in you. It can help your product fare well in the top e-commerce marketplaces as well.
It is one of the essential factors in choosing the marketing mix for a service product. The service products are usually intangible and thus lack a material presence. However, marketing is vital for the actual sale of formless service products. Therefore, instead of focusing on the intangibles, the tangible elements associated with the services are considered:
- Net neutrality pros and cons
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- Limited-time offers trick in eCommerce
How to design an effective marketing mix?
Now, that we know all the Ps that enable you to market your product. The right blend of Ps that is fitting for a product depends very much on the perceptive ability of a marketing manager. A thorough understanding of the product; its market; the needs and preferences of the customers is essential to building a valuable insight into the marketing mix for your product. Hence to be effective the marketing mix of a product must satisfy the following conditions :
The product should match the envisaged positioning
A unique positioning for a product requires that each element of the marketing mix are complementary to each other. It should also be in line with the positioning strategy of the firm.
Target customer profile matching
The marketing mix needs to be based on the profile of the targeted customer to be effective. It only means that if the targeted customers are high-end ones, then your product must be placed superior in qualitative terms. The pricing should also reflect quality.
Resource matching with firms
A thorough survey of the resources that are available with the firm for disposal is the first step. Because it is the resources that dictate your limit, you may have big plans but, they are just daydreams without funds to support them.
Ensure the harmony of elements
All the components of your marketing mix should synthesize well to give a distinctive position for your product. Any disharmony in the internal aspects could affect the credentials in the eyes of the market and lead to failure.
Now you must remember that you are not alone selling the product, but you can make it look unique, and that is your creativity. Hence, the choice of your marketing mix must factor in the competitor’s strategy and must develop counter-attacking solutions as well.
Merge organizational goals as well
You need to gauge the overall organizational goals and align your mix to facilitate the company’s goals as well for example. If your company is looking for broad market penetration with the new product, you need to select the pricing, the people, the promotional strategy, and the distribution method accordingly.
Marketing is a context-based discipline. The internet has diversified the traditional approaches to marketing. The internet-based technologies facilitate deeper penetration into the very individual. But the essence of marketing and its objectives remain the same, and the 4 Ps thus are the starting point for any new business, large or small. In today’s world of startups, the 4 Ps acquire special importance. A talented marketer can combine the additional Ps with the traditional 4Ps to bring out the best for his product, company, and clients. But, everything begins from the basic 4 Ps.
Premjith leads the Digital Marketing team at Mindster, one of the leading mobile app development companies in India. With his 4 valuable years of experience in online marketing, he helps clients expand their online presence and mushroom novel business ideas.