Considered to be one of the most effective elements of marketing, the 4 Ps form an inevitable part of any business strategy. They constitute product, price, place, and promotion.
When implemented successfully within the marketing processes, the 4 Ps, also referred to as the marketing mix can be used by businesses to successfully influence buyers to transact and buy their products.
They help businesses dissect the needs of customers, understand the product perception, and analyse the competitive advantage in addition to other factors.
This article explores the elements of the marketing mix, the importance of the 4 Ps and throws light on how a company can benefit from them.
What are the 4 Ps of marketing?
Marketing mix as a term was first coined by the American academic Neil Borden in 1949. It was centred around simultaneously working on multiple areas to achieve a comprehensive marketing plan.
A few years later, in 1960 E. Jerome McCarthy, an American marketing professor and author through his popular work titled Basic Marketing, A Managerial Approach suggested the 4 Ps which establish a framework for marketing mix.
Over the years there have been several interpretations and approaches to this marketing concept in addition to instances where more variables have been added to the initial 4 pillars.
Nevertheless, the 4 Ps are very much relevant and applicable in today’s business scenarios and are executed by firms all across the world.
The marketing mix definition encompasses the following components.
Product: The goods, services or any other offering that you sell to your consumer base
Price: What the customers have to pay to purchase your product as well as the impact it has on their buying decision and overall brand image
Place: The locations where your target audience discovers your brand and all the other information related to it
Promotion: The strategies used by your business to draw consumers towards your brand and their efficacies
Implementing the 4 Ps for your business
Here’s a look at each one of them in detail to understand how they can influence and improve your marketing approach.
In addition to what you sell, a Product in the context of marketing also includes how you make it significant enough for the audience to find it useful.
|When working on a marketing campaign with a product at the core, the following questions need to be addressed first|
Answering the above questions will help you align your marketing goals better, as well as work on the other Ps more effectively.
It is also important to remember that any industry is dynamic and in response to that should be your product. Hence the answers and approach may change at different stages of the product.
To understand the concept of Product marketing better, let’s take an example of Paytm Payment Gateway – a payment service used by hundreds of small enterprises as well as leading unicorns in the country.
What makes this product different from the rest? Apart from industry-best success rates and unmatched scale, Paytm Payment Gateway is the only service provider to offer T+1 settlements to its merchants throughout the year.
It is thus a useful product for every business that wants to sell through their website without having to face any liquidity crunch. Paytm Payment Gateway offers seamless transactions through a robust and reliable solution.
A marketing plan built on these critical features helps the user recognise Paytm Payment Gateway better as a product and the impact it can have on their business.
The Price of a product is a crucial determinant of its perception in the market. Changes in the price increase or decrease the demand for a particular product, and impact the sales as well.
Oftentimes, price determines the category of a product in terms of its luxury or exclusivity. Expensive products cater to a niche audience and restrict their access to the masses. Heavily discounted products, on the other hand, may draw more buyers but the reduced price points can make them seem less worthy or beneficial.
|When deciding a price for your product and building a marketing plan around it, the following points become crucial|
A couple of cardinal rules for pricing are that if you are a new entrant in the industry and want to build your audience, the prices for your products should be relatively cheaper.
However, once you have established yourself, improvised the product and created a strong brand image in the mind of your audience, the prices can be relooked to charge a premium amount.
For instance, India’s top watch brand Titan has been a household name for years appealing to the masses for its range of affordable watches. In recent years it has also tried to introduce premium labels while revealing some of its costliest watches.
Titan has a loyal customer base that trusts the brand for its quality and is willing to pay a higher price for the product.
The Place encompasses the locations where you make your product available to the customers. In other words, it is where your ideal audience base is.
Broadly there are physical and virtual locations that help you reach your customers. Within the online space, different ‘places’ may be dominated by different sets of audiences. Hence being in the right place is very essential to target potential customers.
|Here are some of the factors to consider when researching the right place to sell your products|
A place is also capable of determining the perception of products. For instance, a clothing brand that uses the social platform TikTok to promote its products is more likely to be styled keeping the younger audience in mind.
Or in the offline space, a luxury handbag shall have its independent store rather than selling alongside multiple brands in a mall to maintain its brand image and exclusivity.
It’s always a good practice to be at places where your target customers can easily find you rather than your buyers having to scout you at locations that are new or unfamiliar to them.
Promotion is the most interesting part of the marketing mix and offers many different creative ways to reach out and advertise to your audience. The objective of Promotion is to largely convince the audience about the two Ps – the Product and Price, apart from other aspects.
Brands can leverage both the traditional (hoardings, print ads, television, etc) as well as the digital methods (email marketing, social media campaigns, online ads, etc) for various campaigns, however, the latter extends a better scope for qualitative and quantitative analysis of the promotional efforts.
|Here are some questions to ask when building a promotional strategy|
Promotion need not be only in the form of ads but can also include collaborations, PR, sponsorships, awareness campaigns and so on. Promotions are also dependent on and dictated by the company’s marketing budgets.
Promotion and Place are closely interlinked – for instance, an advertisement through a street hoarding is the best place to promote car insurance since it effectively reaches all the drivers who are the target audience.
Most successful businesses employ brilliant promotional tactics that define their brand to the customers to create a strong and positive perception.
The seven Ps of marketing mix
In addition to Product, Price, Promotions and Place, marketers have started recognising 3 more Ps to further detail the marketing process. They include People, Processes, and Physical Evidence.
People centres around the experience offered to your customers to improve their interactions as well as increase sales.
Processes include streamlining the delivery of the product by optimising all the steps involved after a customer transacts on the website.
Physical evidence offers proof of your brand and business in the form of offline stores, printed resources such as brochures and business cards as well as the receipts and invoices as a confirmation of purchase.
Are 4 Ps still relevant today?
A Forbes article describes the 4 Ps as dead, calling it “an academic framework for marketing that is not practical or actionable.”
The answer to the above question is a yes and no.
Seven decades back no expert could have imagined the evolution of marketing as we experience it today. Everything we consume has an element of marketing tied to it either subtly or in an obvious manner. Which means that it cannot be addressed solely through the lens of the 4 Ps.
The modern marketing phenomenon is constantly changing and engages several elements to influence the audience. Especially in the digital space, the 4 Ps are clouded by new terms and components that add complexity to the concept of marketing.
Nevertheless, Product, Price, Promotions and Place are an intrinsic part of every marketer’s strategy but in a new data-dominated, time-sensitive and a performance-oriented universe.
Building a marketing plan with a detailed analysis and implementation of the four Ps offers businesses a clarity in approach while taking their brand to the consumer.
All components of the marketing mix are very much interlinked and every element contributes significantly to the final marketing plan.
Whether you are just starting out as an entrepreneur or have built your business for a while, it’s always a recommended practice to check if your marketing strategy is well aligned with the marketing mix.