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The Marketing Mix

marketi, marketing, product, price, place, promotion

The ‘marketing mix’ which is commonly referred to as the ‘four Ps, is a term developed originally by Neil H. Borden. It is usually used to describe the appropriate combination, in a particular set of circumstances, of the four key elements that are at the heart of a company’s marketing program. It is easy to see why, if any one of these elements is wrong, the marketing program will fail and the company will not profit from the operation as it should.


If the product or service offered does not perform in the required way, customers will not buy a second time, and the word will get round to prospective customers so that they will not buy even one. A car with poor performance or excessive breakdowns, a ‘tasty snack’ that does not seem very tasty to its consumers, a magazine that does not interest its readers, or a video rental shop that is never open when customers want to use it, are all examples of faulty products. To some extent, other items in the marketing mix can act to compensate for shortcomings in this area. I may decide to accept more breakdowns in a car if it is cheap enough, or buy the snack I do not like too well if my usual shops stock is finished.


No matter how good the product, some people will be unable to pay more than certain price. Others may be able to afford it but believe that another way of spending that sum of money would give them greater satisfaction. In contrast, as we have just seen, simply being cheap is not enough because the product must come up to some level of expected performance. In some situations (luxury goods, etc) a high price may even make the product more desirable than a lower one. The likely response of demand to a change in price (elasticity in economic terms) will affect decisions of customers on pricing policy.


We must not expect customers to shop around too much in order to find our particular product. It should be available at the place convenient to them. In some cases their attachment (brand loyalty) to a particular manufacturer’s product may be so strong that they will go miles to find it and refuse to accept alternatives, but this is unusual. If one type of beer is not available, many people will take another, or if one newspaper is sold out, they will buy its rival. The biggest single factor in deciding which brand of gasoline people buy is which garage is most convenient for them to stop at. Coca-cola is the world’s best – selling soft drink largely because it is readily available virtually everywhere. Sometimes the best way of making the product easily available is to give people easy access direct to the product (mail-order, free phone ordering using credit cards, TV shopping, etc.)

The potentially negative factors must be avoided. For instance, not may people will ‘shop around’ to find a product that few stores have in stock. They will be reluctant to do business with a company whose telephones are not answered promptly, efficiently and courteously. Some once defined marketing as ‘making it easy for people to buy’. There is some truth in this observation, yet many organizations seem to go out of their way to make life difficult for their customers. This can be illustrated by complicated forms or administration, inadequate telecommunications systems, and unhelpful staff, etc.


The term is used here to include personal selling as well as all forms of advertising and sales promotion, packaging and display.
A well presented product will score over one that is badly presented. Men would be unlikely to buy as a present for their partners a perfume, however good, which was offered in a cheap plastic bottle inside an ugly brown box. In the case of gifts, presentation can be all- important. Easter-egg packaging may well cost more than the chocolate it contains. They way some kinds of consumer products are spoken of by salesmen or in advertising may give them the aura customers seek, whereas an oil rig or a machine tool must above all else carry out its function, and its presentation is relatively unimportant because even in the extreme case it is likely that promotion will have some part to play.

So far the point is that a failure in any one of these four factors may damage the chances of success in the market place no matter how good the others are. The opposite point needs to be made also. Getting any one of them right adds to the total chances of success. Getting them all right will have a synergistic effect. In other words, the total combined effect will be greater than we might expect by adding up the individual effects. In the end the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

There is, however, a complication. What we do to one element in the marketing mix can have an effect on one or more of the others, especially the price. Thus, if we want to improve the product’s performance, we may have to build in features that will add to its price. On the other hand, the fact that the product performs better may make it more acceptable to more people. This, in turn, will lead to higher sales, bigger production runs and lower unit costs and prices.

Price and promotion are linked in this way also. Promotion can cost a great deal of money. Heavy advertising expenditure can be justified only if the advertising convinces customers that the higher price (necessary to cover advertising costs) is justified by the benefits the product offers them. Another justification is that advertising leads to higher sales and therefore lower unit costs. The savings thus achieved pay for the advertising without an increase in price. Both these situations can apply at the same time of course.
Published: 2007-04-14
Author: Martin Hahn

About the author or the publisher
Martin Hahn PhD has received his education and degrees in Europe in organizational/industrial sociology. He grew up in South-East Asia and moved to Europe to get his tertiary education and gain experience in the fields of scientific research, radio journalism, and management consulting.

After living in Europe for 12 years, he moved to South-East again and has worked for the last 12 years as a management consultant, university lecturer, corporate trainer, and international school administrator

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