What is the Marketing Mix? Definitions and examples
Have you ever heard of the Marketing Mix? It is a particular marketing approach, theorized as far back as 1960 but which even today, with the proper adjustments, can prove to be very very useful for you.
You will need to focus on a few factors in particular, which we will explore in detail in the next few lines. First, however, it is important for you to reflect on one thing: the success of the product or service you plan to market, no matter how brilliant or revolutionary it may be, depends on the sales you will be able to bring in. The goal of marketing, after all, as theorized by Peter Drucker, is to
“know and understand the customer so effectively that the product or service sells itself”.
For your product or service to get to sell itself, however, it needs not only a winning business model but also your decisive push. A push called precisely the Marketing Mix.
Marketing Mix: definition
To trace the definition of the Marketing Mix we have to go back many years. It dates back to 1960, in fact, to the text “Basic Marketing: A Managerial Approach” by Edmund Jerome McCarthy, which laid the foundation for the development of this particular marketing approach.
By Marketing Mix, specifically, we refer to the set of marketing levers that the company defines and uses for the purpose of satisfying its consumers and thus achieving the market goals it has set.
Associated with this concept is that of the so-called 4Ps, which originally identified precisely the aforementioned levers on which to go about influencing consumer behavior and, therefore, sales performance. It was Edmund Jerome McCarthy himself who first described them in the aforementioned volume; the one, however, who made them known to the general public was Philip Kotler, and, for this reason, you may happen to find references to them with the formula “Kotler’s 4Ps“. Not only that: you may also happen to hear about 7Ps: as the years passed, in fact, it became necessary to supplement the Marketing Mix model to keep it effective, with “brand new” 3Ps introduced by Booms and Bitner in 1981.
The 7Ps (4+3) of the Marketing Mix
The time has come to analyze, one by one, the 7Ps of the Marketing Mix. As just mentioned, 3 more have been added to the traditional 4Ps over time to address the evolution of marketing in light of the advent of digitization (but not only).
The first, fundamental factor you need to consider is the product (or service) itself, which is an integral part of marketing: in particular, you need to analyze its features and related services (from packaging to after-sales customer service), the elements that distinguish it from the solutions offered by competitors, and the benefits it offers to those who buy it.
Not only that: it is also necessary to keep well in mind that the product (or service) will have to change or, at the very least, undergo changes over time, because it is subject to obsolescence, because consumer needs change, and/or because its profitability and margins vary.
Price is also a crucial factor in the successful sale of a product or service. Setting the price at which to sell your product or service is, therefore, a very delicate operation, linked to several elements: in addition to the more “technical” constraints, such as the production costs to be incurred and the marginality that makes the business sustainable, the price also depends on the amount that consumers are willing to spend to buy that product or service, the selling price of similar products or services already on the market, and the effects that price fluctuations determine on the company’s sales and profits.
Knowing how to best promote your product or service makes the difference between failure and success, especially in markets with high competition. Promoting a product or service means sending the right messages outward to enhance the offering, making consumers aware of the benefits they can enjoy from buying it, and correcting any misperceptions they have about the product or service. To do this best, it is necessary to focus on the type of promotion preferred by consumers and how they tend to respond to various invitations to purchase.
Placement, i.e., distribution or point of sale, is another key factor: it is indeed crucial to be clear about where consumers prefer to buy products or services similar to yours and their preferred distribution channels. Not only that, you also need to consider how your company is able to differentiate itself from competing products available in the same target market and consider using intermediaries for sales.
The first of the 3Ps added later to the traditional model is related to the growing importance of relationship marketing and refers to people, that is, to the increasingly important role that the human component has in the sales process and for the very success of the company. Fundamental, then, is to choose a team that can offer excellent service such that it meets and (why not?) exceeds consumer expectations.
Process is another new feature of Marketing Mix 2.0: the focus here is on the entire business process, from production to sales. Organizing it in the best possible way in every single part is crucial because the perception of the quality of what is offered to the consumer now takes into consideration every little aspect. We mention some of them, to which to pay special attention: nowadays it is crucial to take care of such aspects as the management of orders and purchases from suppliers or the system of processing complaints submitted by customers.
Last but not least is the physical environment (hence the seventh P, which in some cases is referred to with the concept of Physical Evidence).
Whether it is understood as the physical environment or physical evidence, the gist does not change: attention, today, must also be paid to all the (more or less) tangible elements that the consumer comes into contact with when purchasing the product or service. It can refer to a particular aspect of the store, the items inside it or the employees working there, but also (and, with increasing digitization, now especially) to the reviews left by other customers.
The 4Cs of the Marketing Mix (+3)
The traditional 4Ps approach of the Marketing Mix, later supplemented with the additional 3Ps, is more business-oriented than consumer-oriented, since it puts the brand and not the customer at the center of consideration. A change in perspective was realized in 1990 by Robert F. Lauterborn, introducing the so-called 4Cs of the Marketing Mix, which emphasize the importance of taking consumers and their buying experience into consideration, around which all business activities should be organized. This new approach, moreover, pushes companies toward the pursuit of niche, rather than mass, markets.
The first C refers to the word consumer and focuses on creating value for customers (which is why the term customer value is also often used): the goal is to fill the void in a customer’s life rather than focusing on product, because most people are not just looking to buy goods but solutions to their problems. Once you understand customers, you have to attract them one by one with an irresistible offer. The product must be what the consumer wants and must be unique to eliminate the competition.
The second pillar of the 4C model of the marketing mix is the customer cost, not to be confused with the price of the product itself; in fact, price is only a part of the purchase cost, which in addition to the product price, the so-called monetary cost, also includes the nonmonetary cost. Aspects such as the time required to purchase the product or costs related to customer benefits and disadvantages fall into the category of nonmonetary cost. Opportunity costs also fall into this category and refer to the benefits that a customer could have had by purchasing a particular product, even if he or she decided to opt for a different product.
Convenience is the third C: This point in particular invites reflection on how the consumer’s path to purchase can be made as simple, streamlined, and fast as possible through the choice of the most convenient modes of distribution for customers.
Reflection on communication focuses on the marketing information that most interests consumers, the messages that generate the right reactions, and their preferred mode of receiving promotional communications. The focus here is not just on advertising or merchandising, but on building a solid and recognizable brand in a two-way conversation between company and consumer.
As in the case of the “P’s”, the “C’s” of the Marketing Mix have been supplemented with additional factors. The first relates to credibility and, more specifically, the trust of consumers, who need to be confident in the business before they buy, regardless of how advantageous the offers related to the products and services are.
The term connection refers to the need to communicate one’s corporate identity in a coherent and interconnected way company content across all communication channels to increase consumer satisfaction, loyalty, and especially retention.
The importance of putting the consumer at the center is made explicit in the last C of the Marketing Mix, customer service, which is the set of all services provided to customers before, during, and after the purchase of a product or service. Clarification, information, complaints and warranty on products in the catalog support loyalty and increased customer satisfaction.
Marketing Mix: example
We have dissected every single aspect of the Marketing Mix, but to understand how to put all these theoretical notions into practice, it is necessary to consider a concrete example: that of Nivea and the 2005 launch of its new (for the time) product Nivea Visage Young (later relaunched in 2007).
At that time, the famous beauty and body care products company sensed the need to reach a younger target market and decided, therefore, to launch a new product specifically dedicated to girls between the ages of 13 and 19. He did this by adopting the principles of the Marketing Mix on product, price, promotion and placement. For example, with regard to the latter two aspects, Nivea decided to adopt traditional distribution methods that complemented innovative promotional strategies for the time. In this way, it managed to reach the right people at the right time and in the best way, and in doing so, thanks in part to the Marketing Mix strategies adopted, Nivea Visage Young became a strong and recognizable product in its target market.
Nivea’s example also reiterates an important concept: it is critical to consider all individual aspects of the Marketing Mix simultaneously and to maintain as flexible an approach as possible, so that you can shift resources and refine your plan as you go along.