What is marketing mix?
Marketing mix is a tool which consists of 7 elements. These elements represents the aspects that needs to be taken care of to reach the target market. Marketing Mix is a tool used by businesses and marketers to help determine a product or brands offering. The offering a brand makes decides the success of the companies product. Offering is the tangible product combined with other products which may be intangible in nature such as after sale service, content delivery; which makes the product more valuable for the customer.
For instance; we would prefer to buy a product which gives better after sales service than one which is not having good after sale service. The Maruti Suzuki brand has become very popular in India due to the excellent after sale service network.
All the elements of the marketing mix influence each other. They make up the business plan for a company and handled right, can give it great success. But handled wrong and the business could take years to recover. The marketing mix needs a lot of understanding, market research and consultation with several people, from users to trade to manufacturing and several others.
Hence, understanding the marketing mix is very important for a marketer in successfully influencing the customers of the target market. The 4 Ps have been associated with the Marketing Mix since their creation by E. Jerome McCarthy in 1960. In the late 70’s in 1981, 3 more elements were added to the Marketing Mix by Bernard H. Booms & Mary Jo Bitner. Thus, today there are 7 P’s of Marketing.
Why the 4 P’s Evolved to 7 P’s?
In 1960 there was not much focus on the service aspects of a product. After 20 years marketers identified the need to address the service aspect of the product to be successful in business. The 4 P’s are product, price, place & promotion, these elements focused on selling of the goods (tangible products) more that the services (intangible products). However, later three more elements were identified which focused on the factors that are responsible for creation and delivery of the services (intangible product); These elements are people, process & physical evidence.
Thus in the sphere of service marketing the 7 P’s of marketing is applicable than the traditional 4 P’s of marketing. When we make business plan for hotel and tourism industry we should consider all the seven elements to successfully market the product!
This element is the product that has to be marketed. The product should fulfill the needs and wants of the target market; so that a demand is created. The product may be goods (tangible) or service (intangible) or both. Let’s take an instance of a guest having a cup of cappuccino in cafe coffee day; he can sit there and enjoy the cup of coffee while he surfs the internet, or watch a match in the TV, or read book, or have a casual meeting with people; since the product that cafe coffee day offers is not just coffee (Tangible) but the services (Intangible) Wifi, service personnel, Sports channel.
The key consideration of the element – Product
- Product design – features, quality
- Product assortment – product range, product mix, product lines
- Packaging and labeling
- Services (complementary service, after-sales service, service level)
- Guarantees and warranties
- Managing product life-cycle
This element looks at the pricing that will be most appealing to the target market. The product should always be seen as representing good value for money. This does not necessarily mean it should be the cheapest available. Customers are usually happy to pay a little more for something that works really well for them. Ultimately the value perception of the customer decides the price of the product. If the customer perceives high value for a product then it can be sold for a high price. If we go by the previous example, we can see that, cafe coffee day coffee is at least 10 times more expensive than regular shops cappuccino; however there are people who would buy the coffee at the higher price, since they see value in the services provided apart from the coffee.
The key consideration of the element – Price
- Price strategy
- Price tactics
- Allowances – e.g. rebates for distributors
- Discounts – for customers
- Payment terms – credit, payment methods
The place where the sale is happening can affect the marketing of the product. This element can refer to both physical place such as a supermarket or a hotel or it can refer to a virtual place/ space such as e commerce, online sites, online reservation space and so forth. For example, cafe coffee day will be successful in a city or in a place where lot of city dwellers are living; However, in a village people may not see any value in having coffee in cafe coffee day.
The key consideration of the element – Place
- Strategies such as intensive distribution, selective distribution, exclusive distribution
- Market coverage
- Channel member selection and channel member relationships
- Location decisions
- Transport, warehousing and logistics
Various activities taken up for promoting and giving publicity is considered under this element. The main aim is to put across a message to the correct audience in the manner that they would most like to hear. The message may be informational, emotional as per the characteristics of the target market. Advertising, public relations, sales promotion, etc comes under its purview.
The key consideration of the element – Promotion
- Promotional mix – appropriate balance of advertising, PR, direct marketing and sales promotion
- Message strategy – what is to be communicated
- Channel/ media strategy – how to reach the target audience
- Message Frequency – how often to communicate
There are lot of people involved in successfully marketing a product. This element looks at all the people involved in marketing the product. The front line staff to the managers all have their own distinct role in making effective marketing. Having the right people, is a prerequisite for the marketing to be successful especially in the case of service marketing. There is a need for professionally trained manpower for the marketing to be effective.
The key consideration of the element – People
- Staff recruitment and training
- Queuing systems, managing waits
- Handling complaints, service failures
- Managing social interactions
The process of delivering service, might make or break the deal. How the service is delivered by the service personnel is the aspect that is considered under this element. If we consider the example of a branded hotel, every time a customer comes to a branded hotel they expect same level of service from all the staff. Here, human beings are highly variable, however certain uniformity can be achieved amongst them so that there is a uniformity in the way a customer is treated when they avail the services of the hotel. Here, hotel have standard operating procedures; which are codes of conduct for greeting the guest, how to handle a particular situation that might arise and so forth.
The key consideration of the element – Process
- Process design
- Blueprinting (i.e. flowcharting) service processes
- Standardization vs customization decisions
- Diagnosing fail-points, critical incidents and system failures
- Monitoring and tracking service performance
- Analysis of resource requirements and allocation
- Creation and measurement of key performance indicators (KPIs)
- Alignment with Best Practices
- Preparation of operations manuals
Physical evidence is the element that focuses on making the service tangible. A customer who enjoyed an intangible product should be given something physical as evidence for the same. For instance; At a fine dine restaurant, the customer pays for the quality of service as well; The product is made tangible with the payment receipt (Physical evidence). Even if the material is not physically printed (in the case of PDFs) they are still receiving a “physical product” by this definition. Moreover, a service may not be complete without physical evidence. For example; If a hotel is trying to create an experience of mughlai cuisine; it is not enough that the mughlai food is prepared, there is a need for creating the ambience within the premise, the service staff may have to wear a dress that matches the theme; the guest might take a picture to treasure the memory of the service they received. The picture becomes physical evidence in this instance. Thus, physical evidence is the element of marketing that focus on making an intangible product tangible.
The key consideration of the element – Physical evidence
- Facilities (e.g. furniture, equipment, access)
- Spatial layout (e.g. functionality, efficiency)
- Signage (e.g. directional signage, symbols, other signage)
- Interior design (e.g. furniture, color schemes)
- Ambient conditions (e.g. noise, air, temperature)
- Design of livery (e.g. stationery, brochures, menus, etc.)
- Artifacts: (e.g. souvenirs, mementos, etc.)