Time to Revisit the Marketing Mix?

Marketing Article by Brian Monger. The Marketing Mix is a central element of marketing strategy.  It is about developing the best value offer to your market.

A Marketing Mix is a model consisting of the set of strategic marketing tools that the firm uses to pursue its marketing objectives with a specific, target market.  It is the set of variables which comprise the value offer elements (most commonly Product, Price, Promotion and Placement) to create/configure value; communicate value and deliver value) that will satisfy that target market.

(Ref The MAANZ Marketing Glossary http://www.marketing.org.au/glossary_of_marketing_terms.aspx)

When marketing managers develop and manage marketing activities, they must deal with two broad sets of variables:

  • those elements that make up the marketing environment they operate in, and
  • those relating to developing a managed approach – a marketing mix of variable elements.

The variables of a Marketing Mix

The marketing environment variables are the macro and market forces over which they have little control, but they affect buyers’ needs as well as marketing managers’ decisions regarding developing marketing mix variables.

Achieving marketing objectives requires a strategy that includes a number of different elements – the various parts of a management model called the marketing mix or 4 P’s. Calling it a mix reminds you to create the right balance of the different elements you will use.

The marketing mix which is the core of the marketing strategy consists of  major strategic decision variables over which the firm has the most control.  These components are called marketing mix decision variables because a marketing manager decides what focus on each component to use and in what amount to make the best (value) offer to a specific market segment (the target). The “mix” is how the elements are put together – in what quantity and ratios

The most universally accepted version of the Marketing Mix being the 4 P’s model.  This consists of the following variables Product, Price Promotion, and Placement (distribution) which are adjusted to suit the value offer to be made.

The concept of the marketing mix

The concept of the “marketing mix” became popular after Neil H. Borden published his 1964 article, The Concept of the Marketing Mix. Borden began using the term in his teaching in the late 1940’s after James Culliton had described the marketing manager as a “mixer of ingredients”. The ingredients in Borden’s marketing mix included product planning, pricing, branding, distribution channels, personal selling, advertising, promotions, packaging, display, servicing, physical handling, and fact finding and analysis. Eugene McCarthy later grouped these ingredients into the four categories that today are known as the 4 P’s of marketing.

Many other alternative Marketing Mixes have been suggested since that time.  Indeed it seems to be a preoccupation with some marketers to develop their own version.

One such version is C’s Marketing Mix. This is suggested to comprise Create/Configure Value; Communicate Value and Deliver Value

The 4 Cs

Not a singing group from the 60’s, is another variant of the classic 4 P’s Marketing Mix. Where:

Place becomes Convenience

Price becomes Cost to the user

Promotion becomes Communication

Product becomes Customer need or motivation

The C’s are not as well-known as the 4 P’s and also not nearly as memorable.

Most well-conceived Marketing Mixes (and many are not, as they show little or no understanding of what a MMix is intended to do) are very similar in their approach.

One of the primary goals of a marketing manager is to create and maintain a marketing mix that satisfies consumers’ needs for a product type.  The marketing mix is built around the buyer (as is stressed by the marketing concept).

Marketing managers must develop a marketing mix that best matches the needs of the people in the target segment.  Before they can do so, they have to collect in-depth, up-to-date information about those needs.

The marketing mix represents the parameters that a marketing manager can control, (subject to the constraints of available resources and the operating/marketing environment). The objective is to create a proposition or offer to customers in the target segment of the best perceived value and generate a positive response.

The Four P’s of the Marketing Mix

1. Product – Defining the characteristics of your proposition or value offer to meet the customers’ needs. A Product is anything a prospective customer considers to be of value, a good, a service, a person a place or an idea.  The product variable is the aspect of the marketing mix that deals with satisfying a buyers wants and designing a value offering with the desired characteristics.  It also involves the creation or alteration of packages and brand names and may include decisions about guarantees and repair services.

2. Price/Pricing – Deciding on a pricing strategy. A more useful and modern concept is to focus on the markets view of Payment or Cost to the user.  The price variable relates to activities associated with establishing pricing policies and determining product prices.  Price is a critical component of the marketing mix because consumers are concerned about the value obtained in an exchange.  Price often is used as a competitive tool; in fact, extremely intense price competition sometimes leads to price wars.  Price can also help to establish a product’s image.

3. Promotion – This is represented by a Promotional Mix and includes Advertising, Personal Selling Sales Promotion and Publicity (Marketing Public Relations).  The modern approach is to see this as Communicating Value and incorporating it in the concept of Integrated Marketing Communications.  The promotion variable relates to activities used to inform one or more groups of people about an organisation and its products.  Promotion can be aimed at increasing public awareness of an organisation and of new or existing products.  In addition, promotion can serve to educate consumers about product features or to urge people to take a particular stance on a political or social issue.  It may also be used to keep interest strong in an established product that has been available for decades.

Promotion is based on media.  Personal Selling (often referred to as “sales”) generally uses

4.  Place or Placement – This is about Delivering Value and focuses on distribution. It looks primarily at logistics, and channels of distribution and achieving convenience or accessibility value for the customer.  To satisfy consumers, products must be available at the right time and in a convenient location.  In dealing with the distribution variable, (also known as Place or Placement) a marketing manager seeks to make products available in the quantities desired to as many customers as possible and to keep the total inventory, transport, and storage costs as low as possible.  A marketing manager may become involved in selecting and motivating intermediaries (wholesalers and retailers), establishing and maintaining inventory control procedures, and developing and managing transport and storage systems.

The strange cult of wanting to add more P’s

A number of writers have accepted a marketing Mix of P’s and suggest the possible extension of the well-known 4 P’s.  This concept of extension seems not to understand that a good model is good because it is elegant in concept – not the biggest – can cover all eventualities, without growing bigger. A common example, thought to better reflect Services Marketing by adding an extra 3 P’s is the  7 P model

The 7 P’s

5. People: – Particularly in service centre value offerings, people (Employees, Management) as well as the participating consumers often add significant value to the total offering.

6. Process: Procedure, mechanisms and flow of activities by which services are consumed (customer management processes) are an essential element of the marketing strategy.

7. Physical Evidence: The tangible elements of the environment in which the value offer is delivered.  It is about the tangible aspects (things you can see and touch) that communicate and deliver the intangible value (the service experience of customers).

But wait – there is even more

If 7 P’s are not enough some have suggested even more, including

  • Packaging
  • Positioning
  • Practical market experience
  • Purpose
  • Physical Evidence
  • Privacy
  • Personal Interests
  • Personal [social] Networks
  • Public Commentary
  • Personalisation

There have even been suggestions of a 17 P model and the Jefkins model had 20 elements: (Jefkins F “Modern Marketing” ISBN 0 7121 0853 X).  Somewhere I have a model with 25 P’s I think.

Developing Good Marketing Mixes.

A marketing mix needs to be specific to each target segment.  That is, since each segment is different to the others it will need a Value Offer strategy (Marketing Mix)that is different for each segment.  If you believe it is possible to use exactly the same mix for two segments, the likelihood is that you have either got the segmentation confused or that they are in fact not separate segments.

Your marketing mix is the combination of elements that make up the entire marketing process. It requires the right combination, so be careful when putting it together.

Product Decisions

Product (remember it refers to all forms – tangible, physical products (goods) as well as intangible services) decisions to be made include:

  • Who is the product aimed at?
  • What benefit will they expect?
  • How do they plan to Position the product within the market?
  • What differential advantage will the product offer over competitive offers?
  • Brand name?
  • Functionality?
  • Packaging?
  • Human elements in providing the value (People)?
  • Level of previous customer experience with the Product?
  • Physical Evidence?
  • Personalisation?
  • Styling?
  • Quality?
  • Safety?
  • Repairs and Support?
  • Warranty?
  • Accessories and services?

Price Decisions

Pricing decisions may include:

  • Pricing strategy (skim, penetration, etc.)?
  • Customer perception of what represents value?
  • Other elements customers consider in their Payment (eg risk, time,)
  • Personal Interests?
  • Suggested retail price?
  • Volume discounts and wholesale pricing?
  • Discounts?
  • Bundling?
  • Price flexibility?
  • Fixed and variable costs?
  • Competitive Pricing?
  • Organisation objectives?
  • Positioning strategies?
  • Target group and concepts of value?

Distribution (Place/Placement) Decisions

Distribution decisions include:

  • Distribution channels – Intermediaries?
  • Facilitators?
  • Market coverage (inclusive, selective, or exclusive distribution)?
  • Inventory management?
  • Warehousing?
  • Order processing?
  • Transportation?
  • Packaging?
  • Positioning and Imaging
  • Physical Evidence related to intangibles?
  • Customer service?
  • Privacy
  • Personal Interests
  • Personal [social] Networks
  • Personalisation

Promotion Decisions

Marketing communication decisions include:

  • Promotional strategy (push, pull, etc.)?
  • Advertising?
  • Personal selling?
  • Sales promotion?
  • Publicity/Marketing Public Relations?
  • Media?
  • Budget?
  • Packaging
  • Physical Evidence
  • Privacy
  • Personal Interests
  • Personal [social] Networks
  • Personalisation

Please share your comments with us?

Dr. Brian Monger

CEO MAANZ International

Contact me info@marketing.org.au

For more marketing articles; individual digital short courses and details of Marketing Events, Visit us at MAANZ International – http://www.marketing.org.au and stay in touch with more marketing ideas and specials by connecting to us via Twitter @smartamarketing

5 thoughts on “Time to Revisit the Marketing Mix?

  1. Really should be careful about spelling errors. I found it an enjoyable read other than those. I do think however that well before the marketing mix is considered you must model your ideal customer segment(s). All of this is pointless unless you understand the potential buyer. Unfortunately it is one of the more tedious parts of marketing and therefore doesn’t get into “magic bullet” articles often.

    Once you KNOW your audience…deciding on which “P”(s) to use is far easier and frankly tends to lead to more successful marketing efforts.

    • Good you found it an enjoyable read Mark. Apart from some hyphenated words, I really couldn’t see much wrong with the spelling though. Please give me some examples and I will fix them. Since it clearly states that a marketing mix is meant for a specific target market I find your observation “..unless you understand the potential buyer.” strange. If you perhaps looked at other articles here, on segmentation and targeting, you would soon see that this is something I have focused on before.

      I think suggesting this article is meant to be a “magic bullet article” is not correct. But thank you for sharing your view

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