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What is the marketing mix?

Learn what the marketing mix is and about its key elements including product, price, placement and promotion
Editorial team

/ Last updated on 30th October 2017

Marketing mix refers to the concept of taking into consideration all the relevant and essential factors that are to contribute towards the success of your marketing endeavours. A marketing mix is described as a suitable amalgamation of ‘4 Ps of marketing’, which are elaborated as:

Related: What is marketing?

Marketing mix 4 p’s defined

A marketing mix is described as a suitable amalgamation of ‘4 Ps of marketing’, which are elaborated as:

Product (or Service)

When marketing, you need to identify, select and deliver the right product or service to your target consumers in the right segment of the market. This aspect concerns the testing of the feasibility of a product or a service in regards to the preferences and requirements of your target consumers, identification and incorporation of necessary product features, its usability for the consumers, differentiation values, branding methodologies, product packaging and manufacturing costs.

Price

A marketing mix also includes the allocation of a suitable price for your product, considering the limitations and preferences of your target consumers. When pricing your product or service, you need to be able to accurately define the value of the offered product or services for the target consumers. You also need to take into consideration any established price points for the provided service or product, price sensitivity of your consumer base and the range and placement of discounts. But most importantly, you need to conduct a comparative analysis of your suggested price and your competitors’ prices before you set a definitive price for your product or service.

Placement

Proper marketing requires that you deliver your products or services to your consumers at the right time and in the right place. Placement operations need that you correctly identify where your consumers are most likely to look for the services and products that you have to offer. Identify various selling and buying platforms before you shortlist a few that are likely to be visited by your target consumers. Furthermore, placement also deals with the selection of appropriate distribution channels as well as a comparative appraisal of your competitors’ placement strategies and practices.

Promotion

Lastly, for effective marketing, you need to select the most suitable media for promoting and advertising your product or service. There are numerous communicative media available today, and you need to select the most effective one to interact with your target consumers. Also identify the best time to promote your products and services for ensuring increased engagement of your consumers, while also giving due consideration to promotional activities of your competitors.

Emergence and evolution of marketing mix

The popularity of the term marketing mix is attributed to Neil H. Borden’s publication, ‘The Concepts of the Marketing Mix’, in the year 1964. It was for the first time that marketing mix was predominantly used in a widely circulated publication and its concept was made the crux of the subject matter. In his article, Borden reflected on the origin of the phrase, narrating the tale about how he was inspired to come up with the term marketing mix. He referred to James Culliton’s description of marketing managers as a ‘mix of ingredients’, which led him to coin the term marketing mix, to explain the concept of the combination of all the essential factors that contribute towards successful marketing endeavours.

These ‘ingredients’, as stated by Culliton and further elaborated by Borden are today known as the 4 Ps of marketing, which constitute the marketing mix. However, initially, the list of these marketing ingredients was not as concise, and Borden listed these as fact-finding analysis, product, physical handling, planning, display servicing, price, packaging, branding, promotions, distribution channels, advertising and personal selling.

Later, this long list of the marketing ingredients was made more precise by E. Jerome McCarthy, comprising of only product, pricing, placement and promotion. Today marketing mix has emerged out as one of the most popular marketing concepts and is an important and major element of any marketing strategy.

How important is marketing mix?

Marketing approach

The use and importance of marketing mix lie in its contribution towards the formation of an effective marketing strategy and its practical implementation. Integrating all the essentials of effective marketing, marketing mix allows you to analyse and assess the feasibility and role of the product or service that you have to offer, identify appropriate distribution channel for the proper placement of your product, set a suitable price for the value that you are offering to your consumers and identify and employ suitable promotional media. Consequently, marketing mix provides you with an all-inclusive and holistic marketing approach and gives direction.

Effective communication

One of the most significant aspects of marketing is concerned with effectively conveying to your consumers the value that you have to offer to them through the offered goods or services and highlighting the distinctive features of your offered services and products in comparison to that of your competitors. You are required to convey convincing information to your target consumers so that they choose your brand over others’. Marketing mix includes and combines various factors that help you identify and assess various factors, which will enable you to communicate effectively with your target consumers.

Value creation

Marketing mix guides you towards identifying and assessing the diverse aspects of your products or services in relation to their utility for your consumers and their relevance to consumer preferences. Furthermore, marketing mix also provides direction for the selection of a suitable distribution channel, where you target consumer are more likely to look around for your offered services or products. It may be any platform, ranging from a retail store to an online shop.

Marketing mix also includes directives for the allocation of a suitable price, which confers with priorities and limitations of your target consumers. It helps you promote and advertise your products and services effectively, so that you may be able to proficiently deliver value to your consumers.

Modifying the 4 Ps model

The marketing mix is conventionally elaborated as 4 Ps of marketing, but with the evolving business and market trends, this traditional definition of marketing mix no more seems to be sufficient. Product, placement, pricing and promotion, though are still significant components of the marketing mix, but with growing business and marketing needs, these are now believed to present a very limited perspective for a marketing approach.

Evolution of marketing mix

From the era of Industrial Age to present times, the concept of marketing mix has undergone significant transformation and has extended by a considerable range. It has evolved to show more conformity to the sales and marketing needs of the modern age.

Present day marketing is much more complex and complicated than what was practised in the earlier times. Resultantly, marketing mix has extended to encompass all the relevant factors that necessitate the success of today’s marketing endeavours.

Shortcomings of the 4 Ps model

The traditional definition of marketing mix is more coherent with the concepts and objectives of manufacturing, which dominated the business arena during the 1960s. Since then, the focus has shifted from manufacturing to sales and promotion, the conventional explanation of marketing mix seems to be moving towards redundancy.

The conventional 4 Ps model of the marketing mix focused on the development of a useful product to ensure marketing success. The present day consumer can no longer be satisfied with the mere availability of a useful product. In fact, today’s consumer needs run parallel to the principles of effective communication, increased availability of diverse choices and now consumers make decisions on the basis of their experiences.

7 Ps model

To confer with and meet all the consumer and market requirements, the 4 Ps model has been modified to be explained as the 7 Ps model. This is the new and modern approach is adopted for the formation of a viable marketing plan. This modern definition of marketing mix now explains the concept regarding product, price, placement, promotion, people, process and physical evidence.

The new definition of marketing mix is aimed at broadening the vision of marketers so that they are able to effectively employ all the factors and tools of marketing, to satisfy present day marketing needs and demands.

Criticism on 4 Ps model

Business-focused approach

The conventional concept of marketing mix is greatly criticised for employing a business-focused approach. According to critics, marketing mix needs to be redefined to give more preference to consumer needs and requirements than concentrating on business requirements.

No defined objectives

Moreover, marketing mix is also criticised for lacking direction towards the establishment of a definitive marketing objective or goal. It does not elaborate on the aspects of goals and profits. Hence, many fail to understand that how a business is supposed to assess the feasibility of a marketing mix without any clear goal or objective.

Lacking focus on industrial marketing

Another argument that is presented against the concept of marketing mix concerns its inclination towards consumer marketing, focusing only marginally on industrial marketing. In other words, it is suggested that marketing mix provides a very limited perspective when it comes to fulfilling industrial demands and requirements.

One-way communication

Lastly, marketing mix is also subjected to criticism as it is considered as a means of one-way communication, not considering the feedback of the consumers. This may lead to decreased consumer interest. Considering wide scale criticism that the conventional model of marketing mix faced, in order to meet various challenges and needs of the present times, it was redefined as a model base comprising of 7 Ps of marketing.

Related: What is market segmentation?

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