We all know that good or bad marketing decides the success of a product, but have you ever wondered what is the best definition of marketing and what are the essential elements for a strategy to be successful?
Today I want to help you refresh these basic concepts by telling you everything you did not know (and now do) about the marketing mix and the 4Ps of marketing.
Let’s get started!
What is the marketing mix?
One definition of marketing that I like is “putting the right product in the right place at the right price and at the perfect time. “Each of these points seems simple but hides a lot of work behind it. And for the product to work, you need all of them to be ready: a single element out of place can be a disaster for your brand.
The marketing mix is a concept that we use to refer to the entire set of decisions that organizations must make to bring a product or service to market.
There are different ways to classify these decisions. The one with the 4 Ps is probably the best known and most useful, but there is also talk of the 7Ps (an expanded version of them) or even the 4Cs (from the consumer’s point of view).
History and evolution of the concept
The concept of “marketing mix” originated in the article “The Concept of Marketing Mix,” published by Neil Borden in 1964. Using this concept, Borden wanted to systematize and describe all the marketing tools needed to create a marketing plan to develop a company’s product.
Borden’s partner James Culliton pushed him to make a convenient tool for developing a marketing strategy. James in 1948 unusually described the company’s marketer, comparing him to “a mixer of the necessary ingredients.”
Borden’s original marketing mix consisted of many “ingredients”: pricing, branding, distribution, personal sales, advertising, promotions, packaging, service, product development, and more.
Only later did E. Jerome McCarthy group all the “ingredients” into the 4P’s marketing mix, making them easy to remember and work quickly.
It is believed that the marketing mix model includes all the necessary product parameters that a marketer can control and develop for effective product promotion on the market.
The marketing mix aims to create a strategy that will increase the perceived value of the product and help maximize the company’s long-term profit in the market.
The 4Ps of Marketing
As we’ve just seen, the 4Ps are a simple formula for identifying and working on the core elements of the marketing mix.
Although it is not new at all (it was first proposed by EJ McCarthy back in the 1960s), it is still a very advisable classification to quickly clarify the central points of your marketing strategy. It is based on four different elements (whose names begin with pe in English):
1 # Product or service (Product)
The product or service is at the root of any marketing strategy since it is the means through which the target audience’s needs are met: what can we offer them?
From the point of view of modern marketing, it is preferable to define the product from the needs and motivations of the customer and the benefits it brings, rather than from the “objective” characteristics or attributes.
Within this P of marketing, we must define the company’s product portfolio, its life cycle, and how they differ from the competition. The image, the brand, the packaging, or the after-sales services also fall within this crucial element.
2 # Point of sale or distribution (Place)
Distribution deals with defining and managing the channels for a product to reach consumers. The strategic points of commercialization can range from an eCommerce to a distribution chain with physical stores in several countries.
The purpose of the distribution strategy is to facilitate customer access to the product or service and help sales by providing a good brand experience.
Within this P, we have all kinds of decisions regarding storage, inventory management, transportation, location of the point of sale, off and online ordering processes.
3 # Price (Price)
The final price of our product or service is one of the most complex marketing decisions since it involves a lot of factors:
- Product manufacturing costs
- The commercial margin that we expect to obtain
- The economic objectives of the company
- The demand for our product or service in the market
- Competitor prices and possible substitutes
- The purchasing power of consumers
- Trends and tastes
- Product positioning: sometimes, it is interesting to raise the price to give a higher quality image
When setting the price, we must also consider factors such as payment methods or discounts. In the end, only customers can decide if the cost of the product seems appropriate or not.
4 # Promotion (Promotion)
And last but not least, we find promotion: all the communication actions that we carry out to publicize the characteristics and benefits of our products and services to increase sales.
This P is an actual “mixed bag” in which many different forms of communication fit: advertising, public relations, personal selling, direct marketing.
Today, digital marketing influences all of them. No matter how “traditional” your product or service is, you need to keep updated with trends, news, and marketing news.
A 4P marketing mix is a primary option that any organization can use. An extended marketing mix was created for B2B companies.
At first, it existed in the 5P model, then the 6P and 7P models appeared. The new components are more socially oriented.
People – people
This element is responsible for the development of company relations expansion of services. These are the people who can influence the perception of the product by consumers:
- employees who are in direct contact with the consumer;
- buyers who have already tried the product and can leave a review about it;
- manufacturers on whom the quality of the product depends.
Employees need to be trained so that they can fully represent the product’s benefits. People in contact with the consumer must understand human psychology to identify the basic needs of the target audience.
Working with regular customers and VIP clients is of no minor importance. Providing them with discounts special loyalty programs make it possible to get good reviews and feedback.
Process – process
The term describes the mechanism of interaction between the consumer and the organization. The process is essential for forming customer loyalty affects the likelihood of purchasing goods. The goal of this element of the marketing mix is to make the purchase feel suitable for the customer.
This is the customer’s environment at the time of the purchase. A well-formed environment enhances the company’s image and credibility.
The physical environment is the decoration of the premises, the uniform of the workers, the licenses and certificates of the enterprise. Careful attention should be paid to each element.
Using the model in practice
The purpose of using 4P marketing is to improve consumer perception of the product. Ultimately, this leads to the establishment of the company’s long-term profit.
Practical use of 4P marketing includes the following steps:
- drawing up critical questions for each item;
- collection of information;
- solving issues with the help of the obtained data;
- elaboration of the ideal scenario for the development of events;
- comparing it with the actual situation;
- correction of the promotion strategy.
In 1990, an alternative model appeared, which was called 4C marketing. It includes the following items:
- customer needs – the client’s wishes;
- cost – cost;
- communication – the exchange of information between the enterprise and the client;
- convenience – convenience for the client.
These are the same points as in the 4P concept.
Marketing 5P, 7P
The 5P model in marketing is an extended version of the basic concept. An additional element here is people. The human factor plays an important role in product promotion. You cannot leave him unattended.
The 7P marketing concept is a broader option. In addition to the people element, this includes process and physical evidence – the process and the physical environment.
Initially, the marketing model was applied only to the service sector, but with the development of online commerce, 7Ps began to be used to sell physical goods.
Advanced marketing concepts take precedence over the four-piece model. Analysis of sales of different companies shows that those organizations that paid attention to working with employees, decorating premises, or a website had a high promotion of products.
Is there marketing 8P, 9P, 12P
There is an 8P marketing model. Its author is Christopher Lovelock. The model was formed in the context of increasing competition in the market. The eighth element here is responsible for product quality.
The 9P marketing model is all about public relations and personal selling. Motivating each employee increases the bottom line for the entire organization.
The 12P concept is the newest in marketing. It contains elements such as:
- consumer involvement;
- loyalty programs;
- social responsibility policy.
Customer engagement refers to the introduction of ongoing feedback. Customer feedback helps to improve product quality and functionality.
Loyalty programs are used to retain regular customers. These are various discounts, bonuses, congratulations on the holidays.
The social responsibility policy is the organization’s focus not only on individual clients but also on the population as a whole. These brands are well placed to be trusted by their customers.
4P is the base of the marketing mix on which advanced concepts are created. The 4P model helps draw customers’ attention to products. The choice of a specific marketing model depends on the specifics of the company’s work.
How have the 4 Ps evolved?
The 7 P
In the service industry, the 4 Ps model has evolved to the 7 Ps model to take into account these three additional factors:
- Personnel: services are inevitably tied to the people who run them. Employee behavior, therefore, is a fundamental factor in perceived quality, and this must be taken into account when hiring and training them.
- Processes: Processes are the mechanisms through which a service is provided and influence its perceived quality. Having streamlined processes improves the customer experience and reduces costs.
- Physical evidence or evidence: These are the “physical” elements of a service, such as premises, brand colors, accessories, or advertising material. All this influences the perception of the brand by users.
The 4 C
The 4C model updates the 4Ps to suit the needs of more modern marketing. Thus, we would talk about:
- Consumer: the focus is on the customer rather than the product. This C translates into carrying out a good study of the client’s needs and developing a buyer persona at a strategic level.
- Cost: the cost factor replaces the price since it is necessary to consider all the expenses incurred by the manufacturer until the product reaches the final consumer.
- Convenience: It is no longer important where the product is sold, but how it fits into the customer’s buying habits provides a frictionless experience.
- Communication: We see a trend to place less emphasis on outright promotion and more on creating a coherent communicative environment around the brand.
The 4 E
And finally, the new trend is to replace the 4 C model with the 4 E model, which reflects the current marketing situation:
- Experience and emotion: it is no longer simply seeking to satisfy a need with a product or service but to create experiences around the brand that generate emotional responses.
- Exchange: the price of a product or service may not be an economic payment but through data, attention or time.
- Anywhere: physical points of sale have been replaced by interactions anywhere and through any channel.
- Evangelization: the last step of a modern marketing strategy is to get the customer to become an advertise or recommender of the brand.
What questions to ask yourself with the 4Ps
As you can see, each of the 4Ps has a lot of factors to consider, so you may feel overwhelmed when making decisions. To make your task easier, I have created this macro list of questions that you have to ask yourself to clarify each of the 4Ps.
1 # Questions about the product or service:
- What does the consumer want from my product or service?
- What are the benefits it offers?
- What needs does it satisfy?
- Are there other ways to meet the same needs? If so, what advantages and disadvantages do you have over them?
- What are the characteristics of the product or service? Is it possible that something is missing that can improve my offer? Am I including one that is expensive but does not provide enough value?
- How and where will my product be used? Are there several different usage scenarios?
- What is its appearance? Are there different sizes, colors, etc.?
- How does it complement other products or services from my company or others?
- What will the consumer experience be like when using it?
- As it is called? What will the brand be?
- What is it that will make it different from the competition?
2 # Questions about the point of sale or distribution:
- Where do customers go to find my product or service? Some ideas: specialized stores, supermarkets, online, through catalogs …
- How can I access the proper distribution channels?
- Do I need to have a sales force? Go to fairs in my sector? Send samples to catalog companies? Being in contact with online sellers? Set up my online distribution site?
- What is my competition doing, and how can I learn or differentiate myself from them?
3 # Questions about the price:
- What is the manufacturing cost of my product or service?
- What trade margin do I need to obtain?
- What is the value of my product or service to the consumer?
- What are the usual prices for products and services similar to mine?
- How price sensitive is my typical customer? Is it possible that a slight decrease will win me many clients or that a small increase will go unnoticed?
- Can I offer discounts and promotions at specific times or for certain customers?
- How is my price compared to the competition?
4 # Questions about the promotion:
- Where and when can I get my message across to the right audience?
- Which of these options suit me: banners, search engine advertising, social media marketing, radio, press, television, billboards, direct marketing, public relations, email marketing…?
- When is the best time to promote? Does my product or service have a seasonal component?
- What are my competitors doing, and how should that influence my decisions?
- What KPIs will be used to measure the result of my actions to promote?
How to apply the 4 p’s of marketing in a product or service
Applying these 4 p’s in a product or service is relatively simple.
- You must start by defining it in detail and clarifying what you are selling, what needs it covers, what benefits it brings and what its added value is.
- Second, you must define the price considering that it is within what your ideal client can (and will be willing to) pay and that it brings you an economic benefit.
- Third, you must choose the most profitable logistics for your product. If you have opted for a service, you must define in detail how the client will enjoy it.
- Finally, you only have to promote it. Choose the most appropriate channel for your financial possibilities and the one you know will reach your target audience.
Use the 4Ps of Marketing.
I hope that all this information has helped you organize your ideas, but do not forget that the most critical step is to get going! Whether you’re looking to launch a new product or rethink your current marketing strategy, the 4Ps have a lot to offer you.
This step-by-step plan will help you get the most out of this classic marketing formula:
- Identify the product or service that you need to analyze.
- Answer the questions on the list in the previous section. As much as possible, try to base yourself on objective facts. If you have doubts or feel that you do not have the appropriate information, it is time to invest in a good market study.
- Once you’ve defined your marketing mix with these questions, it’s also a good idea to take a look at it from your consumer’s point of view :
- Does it meet all your needs? (Product or service)
- Will you find it at the points of sale you usually go to? (Distribution)
- Does the price seem right to you? (Price)
- Will the brand messages reach you to motivate you to buy? (Promotion)
- Create hypotheses by turning your answers around with “why?” and “what if …?” For example, “what would happen if I raise the price by 5%?” “What if I put more sizes on sale?” “Could I benefit from selling through my eCommerce?” “What happens if I move 25% of the investment from Facebook Ads to Twitter Ads ?”
- Time to take action! Test the hypotheses in the previous section, measure the results and incorporate the changes that prove worthwhile into your strategy. Finally, don’t forget to establish regular checks on your entire marketing mix strategy as market circumstances change faster and faster. Good luck!
It is an example of a brand that has among its virtues great flexibility and speed when it comes to moving in a market as competitive as fashion with brands that, like her, move all over the world.
Its value proposition is to offer fashion that imitates the great fashion brands at a much lower price, thanks to having an enviable business structure that allows it to be very efficient.
The price varies depending on the market where you are and your position in it. For example, in Spain and Japan, prices go from being relatively cheap to expensive in this Asian country.
Point of sale
Born in Galicia, they have made an international expansion that leads them to be present in all the world’s great cities, such as Paris, New York, London, or Rio de Janeiro.
The tents are the great jewel in the crown and are spacious, well lit, modern, predominantly white, and with mirrored walls.
The stores are its great claim. They seek to be in the best streets or shopping centers in the markets it operates. By cons, do not invest in marketing campaigns such as television or radio. They seek to highlight exclusivity, experience, differentiation and be affordable.
Founded in 2009, it is one of the companies that has been on everyone’s lips in recent years due to its rapid and daring growth as a new business model.
Product and point of sale
Born as an alternative to the traditional taxi, with new, elegant cars and neatly dressed drivers.
They are very aggressive when it comes to giving prices for journeys compared to conventional taxis. Before starting the trip, you already know what you will pay.
Its status as a startup makes it aggressive to get an extensive customer database. It offers free rides, with discounts, teams up with other great applications, such as Google Maps, to gain visibility or appears in many television series.
The German sportswear brand is a world reference; they have footwear, clothing, and accessories. They seek to combine the technology that improves the athlete’s performance with the most attractive design.
Considering your tough competition with brands like Reebok, Under Armor, or Puma, try to offer competitive prices. Still, they try to keep costs high not to lose the perception of quality products.
Point of sale
To get their products to consumers, they have several channels:
- Own stores where they can deepen the customer experience
- Multi-brand stores
- Online, whether owned or from third parties
Adidas uses many options to achieve visibility in front of its public. From influencers like Messi, television commercials or sponsoring the Olympics and football teams are some of the ways they use.
The reference and most famous brand in the fast-food sector also has excellent competition with Burger King or KFC brands.
Its products are hamburgers or salads and sugary drinks or coffee.
The hamburger is the queen of the brand with which there is a tremendous mental association on the part of the consumer. Although lately, it is looking to open up more promoting the McCafé or salads to better adjust to new eating habits
They use two strategies very effectively:
- Offer food menus, such as the classic Happy Meal, where there is a discount on what each item would cost separately.
- Use prices from a psychological point of view, such as 99 finishes, € 3.99, to be more affordable and increase the desire to buy more.
Point of sale
Restaurants are essential in McDonald’s strategy; they are usually very central and with a very recognizable aesthetic, which has been changing, seeking to highlight more “green products” in an attempt to appear healthier.
You can also interact with the company online, either with its website or applications for iOS and Android.
To communicate with customers using a variety of tactics:
- Advertising through countless channels: television, outdoor
- Sales promotions such as discount coupons or gifts
- Public relations, influencers
- Direct marketing
Clearly defining the product, price, place, and time is a must when developing a marketing strategy for any product or brand.
Whether it is a new company or an established business, balancing these four elements is essential. It is something that marketers must consider when positioning a product or a brand in the market.
The 4 p’s of marketing, in addition to offering a panoramic vision of what it is intended to cover, are very practical for preparing studies, actions, and fundamental analyzes before launching a new service or product.