Monday, November 8, 2010

The Marketing Mix (The 4 P's of Marketing)


Marketing decisions generally fall into the following four controllable categories:
  • Product
  • Price
  • Place (distribution)
  • Promotion
The term "marketing mix" became popularized 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. E. Jerome McCarthy later grouped these ingredients into the four categories that today are known as the 4 P's of marketing, depicted below:
These four P's are the parameters that the marketing manager can control, subject to the internal and external constraints of the marketing environment. The goal is to make decisions that center the four P's on the customers in the target market in order to create perceived value and generate a positive response.

Product Decisions

The term "product" refers to tangible, physical products as well as services. Here are some examples of the product decisions to be made:
  • Brand name
  • Functionality
  • Styling
  • Quality
  • Safety
  • Packaging
  • Repairs and Support
  • Warranty
  • Accessories and services

Price Decisions

Some examples of pricing decisions to be made include:
  • Pricing strategy (skim, penetration, etc.)
  • Suggested retail price
  • Volume discounts and wholesale pricing
  • Cash and early payment discounts
  • Seasonal pricing
  • Bundling
  • Price flexibility
  • Price discrimination

Distribution (Place) Decisions

Distribution is about getting the products to the customer. Some examples of distribution decisions include:
  • Distribution channels
  • Market coverage (inclusive, selective, or exclusive distribution)
  • Specific channel members
  • Inventory management
  • Warehousing
  • Distribution centers
  • Order processing
  • Transportation
  • Reverse logistics

Promotion Decisions

In the context of the marketing mix, promotion represents the various aspects of marketing communication, that is, the communication of information about the product with the goal of generating a positive customer response. Marketing communication decisions include:
  • Promotional strategy (push, pull, etc.)
  • Advertising
  • Personal selling & sales force
  • Sales promotions
  • Public relations & publicity
  • Marketing communications budget

Limitations of the Marketing Mix Framework

The marketing mix framework was particularly useful in the early days of the marketing concept when physical products represented a larger portion of the economy. Today, with marketing more integrated into organizations and with a wider variety of products and markets, some authors have attempted to extend its usefulness by proposing a fifth P, such as packaging, people, process, etc. Today however, the marketing mix most commonly remains based on the 4 P's. Despite its limitations and perhaps because of its simplicity, the use of this framework remains strong and many marketing textbooks have been organized around it.

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