marketing mixDoes a 6-P marketing mix tell you anything? « Hey, I thought there were only 4 Ps! », you says. Well, what about 7 Ps, or even 9! Or this: the 4 Ps are dead, viva el 4-C marketing mix!

The science –or the art as you see it– of marketing management seems to evolve. But in this case, do we really have anything new to bite into?

Read on…

A Classic Marketing Mix
McCarthy, Kotler et al. taught us some five decades ago that the « marketing mix » was composed of 4 Ps.

  • First for PRODUCT decisions,
  • Then for PRICING,
  • PROMOTIONS, and finally,
  • Those that comprise all about PLACE.

Who never heard about these when on a school bench or at a training seminar? As there is always one to question commonly accepted knowledge, we are seeing a plethora of new models about ways to think, plan and make decisions on marketing issues. The masters are challenged! Some of them are worth looking into. Others, well…

Enough letters?
Models are often presented with an acronym to help remember them. The 4 Ps are like that. Many now propose to add Ps to the equation. Here’s a quick review.

Boom and Bitner add 3 Ps to the original 4-P marketing mix:

  • People: all staff and consumers concerned by marketing decisions;
  • Process: all mechanisms and procedures by which products and services are consumed;
  • Physical environment: the context in which products and services are purchased.

Weingand add these two to McCarthy & Kotler’s mix:

  • Prelude: to underscore the necessary effort to plan things well ahead of actions;
  • Postlude: to highlight the need to measure and analyze results after the fact.

The list of other « P » variables goes on with suggestions such a:

  • Positioning: the decision to contextualize one’s offer within its competitive landscape and present it in a truly differentiated manner;
  • Packaging: covers all decisions about a product’s physical appearance;
  • Predictions: the importance to quantify objectives, and results measurements.

If a number of detractors of the original marketing mix model are serious and do add valid points to think about, others propose complex, twisted –almost burlesque– models, like Woolf who proposed a 10-P model:

  • Price, Purchases, Points, Partners, Prizes, Pro Bono, Privileges, Personalization, Participation… and Presto. Han?

Feels a tad too much, doesn’t it? McCarthy & Kotler’s 4-P marketing mix model is still a sure seller. Some unfortunately try a little too hard to piggy-back on its awareness and brand equity…

From Ps to Cs
50 years later, there are academias who believe that the original 4-P marketing mix model needs an upgrade. Lauterborn, amongst others, suggests that the approach is all wrong and that marketing decision makers should view their work from the market point of view first (instead of taking on an operational point of view). He came up with the four Cs of marketing.

  • CLIENTS: focus your offer precisely to satisfy clients’ needs;
  • COSTS : consider all costs involved in satisfying your clients, including costs that clients themselves will have to incur to satisfy their needs;
  • CONVENIENCE: all things related to the mechanisms and activities of purchasing the product or service;
  • COMMUNICATIONS: all interactions between your organization and clients.

It is an interesting approach that has the value of forcing decision makers to consider everything from the client’s perspective. It does propose a different approach yet I believe that both models are complementary.

Nothing really new
All –most of– these proposals are sound and valid. They force us to question our ways of making decisions. They cue our mind to stop for a minute and be vigilant about deciding just out of (old) habits. Putting our usual ways of doing things on the exam table is always a good thing, especially if it does help us become better afterwards.

Although the essence of marketing has not changed over the years…

Clients continue to buy at the time of their choice a product that is offered to them at a stated price, at a controlled location, because this product satisfies a need or a desire and brings them the expected real or perceived value.

… I believe that the original McCarthy & Kotler marketing mix model still holds and holds well. No need to re-invent it.

Using some of the new ways expressed above to plan and make marketing decisions within a thorough and disciplined planning effort will cover all the necessary variables and angles that a modern business context is bringing on. My mantra:

  • Evaluate thoroughly to better decide
  • Act and measure precisely to better evaluate.