What is a “Marketing Mix”?

by smartamarketing

The Variables of a Marketing Mix

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 us to create the right balance of the different elements that will be used.

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.  The marketing mix decision variables – product, distribution, promotion, and price-are factors over which an organisation has control.

The four P’s of the traditional marketing mix

1. Product – A product can be 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 – 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. Deciding on a pricing strategy a more useful 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.

3. Promotion – Promotion is usually composed of a “promotional mix, which includes Advertising Personal Selling Sales Promotion and Publicity (Marketing Public Relations).  Sometime Direct marketing is also singled out as a separate element.  The modern approach to promotion is to see it 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.

 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.

Perhaps we need more P’s?  

(Not likely.  This model has stood the test of time and withstood numerous attacks)

A number of writers have suggested the possible extension of the 4 P’s.  For example the fairly common 7 P’s approach which includes:

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

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

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

While acknowledging that these additional 3 elements can be useful concepts, they are in fact already accommodated in the existing, simpler 4 P’s marketing mix model.  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).

Another approach – the 4 Cs

Not a singing group from the 60’s

Place becomes Convenience

Price becomes Cost to the user

Promotion becomes Communication

Product becomes Customer motivation

These C’s perhaps reflect a more client-oriented marketing philosophy. The C’s are also not nearly as memorable as the P-words.