What is the Marketing Mix and How Can You Use It?

The marketing mix refers to the combination of factors used by brands to get the right response from the people they’re targeting.

A number of principles surround the choice of marketing mix for any brand, including the 4P’s: Product, Place, Price and Promotion.

The explosion of digital, along with rapidly changing consumer trends, has changed the face of marketing, resulting in the development of a new theory: the 7P’s. This is where the importance of physical evidence, people and process come into full view.

But why is there a need to understand this mix in the first place?

Why You Need to Understand the Marketing Mix

Understanding the marketing mix is rooted in understanding your audience – who they are, what they need and where you can find them.

By applying the 4P’s or 7P’s model, brands can break their marketing strategy down by component, and focus on putting the right message in the right place at the right time. The nature of the brand, its offering and its audience will dictate how this mix is used.

The 4P’s Model

The 4Ps model, developed in the 1960s, helps companies take products to market in a more structured way. The theory cites four key components:

Product: The product must do what consumers want it to do, work well and meet consumer demands.

Place: The product should be easily available through a convenient channel, whether on the high street or online, for example.

Price: The product should be seen to represent good value for money, pitched at the right level but still turning a profit. This will depend on factors including market share and competition.

Promotion: A combination of advertising, marketing, PR and sales promotion – whether online and/or offline – must be deployed to reach the right audience with the right message.

The 4P’s Model in Action

A good example of how the 4P’s can be applied is in the case of a CPG/FMCG company that develops new breakfast cereals. For example:

  • The product is the cereal.
  • Finding the right price point means examining customer perceptions and competitor products as well as taking into account manufacturing and distribution costs.
  • Promotion involves engaging in a range of promotional activities, including competitions, celebrity endorsement and product tastings.
  • Place involves identifying the optimum channels of distribution, such as leading supermarket chains.

The 7P’s model adds three more components, taking into account the impact of digital (and increasingly mobile) on consumer behaviors, and the rise of consumer power. These are more relevant to brands involved in delivering a service rather than a product, proving useful for multichannel businesses. The three additional components are:

People: Employees are a company’s most important asset, responsible for delivering the product or service to the consumer. Having the right people is an essential part of a successful brand.

Processes: The way in which a company’s service is delivered forms a key part of the customer experience. Is it easy, intuitive and useful, for example?

Physical Evidence: Almost every service involves a tangible component, from the building in which the service is delivered to logos, marketing materials and the brand website.

How British Airways Embraced the 7P’s

In response to increasing shift to mobile, British Airways (BA) created a mobile application for its Executive Club Program. This enabled its customers to collect frequent flyer miles, make reservations, and manage flight schedules on the go. The airline applied the 7P’s in the following way:

Product: BA focused on enabling members to access Executive Club benefits on their mobiles.

Price: It’s free.

Place: BA made the app available on its website and across mobile app stores.

Promotion: BA focused on mobile email promotions, segmenting the campaign into four mobile platforms: iPhones, Androids, BlackBerrys, and desktop computers. This made it easy for people to download the right application for the right mobile device.

People: The app acted as an extra support for BA customers, with dedicated teams on standby to answer club members’ queries at a moment’s notice.

Process: The app is an intuitive process, allowing members to access information on the go.

Physical Evidence: the app’s physical evidence comes in the form of online customer reviews.

The Development of the 4C’s

The 4P’s marketing model has also given rise to the 4C’s theory, which looks at the key elements of the marketing mix from the buyer’s point of view, as opposed to the seller’s. It comprises:

Cost: Consider how much your customers are willing to pay for the value of your product or service, and what type of market you’re targeting.

Consumer wants and needs: The product or service should be carefully designed to address consumer demand.

Communication: Promotion can be seen as manipulative, whereas communication is ‘co-operative’. Marketers should aim to foster a dialogue with the customer, not a monologue.

Convenience: Products should be easily available in a choice of visible distribution points.

Today’s consumers are more empowered than ever. This has enabled greater speed and convenience, ready access to information and increased transparency. It means taking an audience-centric view is essential for any brand looking to generate the best return on investment.

Mind Your P’s and C’s

Don’t be put off by theories and acronyms. Understanding the marketing mix and applying this to your brand can help you achieve more targeted marketing in an increasingly fragmented world.

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