Lets See What A Marketing Mix In The Present Context Is
Marketing is a continually growing field and as such, companies who do not keep updated with the changing trends are bound to be left behind and struggling to survive. An example of this growth has been the changes to the basic marketing mix. Where once there were 4 Ps, now we have 7 Ps to explain the mix with some academicians going further into the 8th P.
In simple terms, a marketing mix is putting a right product, at a right price, in a right place at the right time. It is a way to make important decisions about how to execute a marketing plan successfully.
The marketing mix is . . . The set of controllable tactical marketing tools – product, price, place, and promotion – that the firm blends to produce the response it wants in the target market.
Kotler and Armstrong (2010).
The term “marketing mix” was coined in 1953 by American Marketing Association president, Neil Borden, and has been used from then on with changes being made to account for modern technology and other aspects of marketing that have changed over time.
The 4 Ps viz: Product, Price, Place, Promotion are the foundation of the marketing mix. As stated earlier, this 4 P concept was developed in the 1950’s and in the 1980’s it was felt that this concept should be further extended to 7 Ps ( mainly in the services industry) the additional being, People, Process and Physical Environment. Some academicians talk of the 8th P which is Productivity and Quality. Let us now understand these 8 Ps one by one:
Product means the goods-and-services combination the company offers to the target market.
Kotler and Armstrong (2010).
Product is an item that is meant to fulfill or satisfy the need or want of a certain group of people.The marketer should see that the product developed is in demand in the market. The marketer should also look at the life cycle of the product which is akin to the human life cycle i.e. introduction, growth, maturity and decline. The marketer should be able to reinvent the product during its decline phase. The marketer should also be able to handle any challenge that may come at a certain stage of the product life cycle.
The marketer should understand the Customer Life Cycle ( which is similar to the Product Life Cycle) and should focus upon the development and delivery of lifetime value to the customer i.e. plan the products or services that customers need throughout their lives.
The marketer should know why his product is consumed by the market, how his offering is as compared to his competitors and what would the consumers want more in the product. He should also see whether there are some unnecessary features in his product or whether some more functional and physical features are to be added to the product.
The price of the product is the amount that a customer pays for to consume it. It is a very important component of a marketing plan as it determines the company’s profit and survival. The entire marketing strategy is dependent on the price of the product as is the sales and demand.
A new company cannot extract a higher price from the market. It is only with time and consistent efforts that a company can make its name in the market and get a higher price.
Keeping a low price is also not done because consumers relate a low price to inferior quality. So, the pricing has to be done very judiciously keeping in view the company’s cost of production and its competitors’ pricing. While freezing the price, the company should also look at the perceived value of their product. One interesting thing is that customers are willing to pay some extra price if the product works for them really well.
Place includes company activities that make the product available to target consumers.
Kotler and Armstrong (2010).
The company has to distribute the product in a place that is accessible to potential buyers. It depends on the buyers too whether they prefer shopping at the malls or at a supermarket or online. With time when a company starts understanding its target audience deeply, it knows where all, the consumers look for the company’s product and thus develops effective distribution channels for the product.
Place also means ways of displaying the product to customers. This could be in a shop window or online.
Promotion comprises advertising, public relations and sales promotion.
Advertising comprises television advertisements, radio commercials, print media, and internet advertisements. In today’s world there is a marked shift from traditional advertising to digital advertising.
Public relations includes press releases, exhibitions, sponsorship deals, seminars, conferences, and events.
Word of mouth is also a strong component in promotion. Satisfied customers connect on the online social media and give their views about the company and its products.
The company should be aware as to what types of communication happen with the potential buyers, what media vehicles to adopt to reach them, and what the promotional strategies of its competitors are.
One thing that has to be noted is that getting close to the customer has become more important than ever as digital and mobile technology has made inroads into mainstream marketing. It has also provided us new tools to plan the marketing in a more targeted, relevant and effective way.
This includes the people in the company who come in direct touch with the customers and the people present in the target market. The company has to ensure that all the front office people and sales people they have hired are well versed in the product attributes as compared to its competitors, are polite and of good conduct and can deliver superior service to the customer. Employees who identify with company and its offerings remain motivated to perform their best.
Moreover, the number of people in the target market must be sufficient enough to have demand for the company’s products.
The systems and processes the company has affects the execution of the service. So, the company should have its processes run smoothly for it to deliver a superior product and service to its customers.
In reality, it is more about the interface between the company and the consumer and how they effect the marketing to purchase process in a series of steps.
In the industry, there should be physical evidence that the product or service was delivered. Physical evidence involves anything that indicates that a service took place whether it is an airway bill or an invoice or a voucher. It may also be a receipt showing the price of an intangible offering, say, massage.
In addition, physical evidence also pertains to how a business and it’s products are perceived in the marketplace. For example, what comes in your mind when we talk of sports? I am sure it must be Nike and Adidas at the top of your mind.
8.PRODUCTIVITY AND QUALITY, THE 8th P
This P concerns whether the company is offering a good deal to its customers. It is less about the company improving its own productivity for managing its costs and more about how the company passes this cost advantage onto its customers.
IDENTIFYING THE MARKETING MIX
Just as a painter uses the right combination and proportion of the paints to make his painting, astute marketers use the right combination and proportion of the 8 Ps to address their target market. The process of mixing the 8 Ps together in the right proportions to form a cohesive strategy is called marketing planning.Once the right marketing mix is identified and monitored from time to time, the company will keep on getting customers and shall operate profitably.