Marketing is almost always defined as the activities that a company conducts to promote the purchase of a product (good or service) by consumers. While marketing may seem simple and easy, a lot of work actually goes into ensuring that this is successful. For instance, a product may be excellent, but advertisements that fail to reach the target consumers will likely result in lack of interest in the product. In order to ensure the success of a product, companies use a model known as the marketing mix. The marketing mix can be described as a set of tools that companies use to ensure that the objectives of bringing a product to the target market are attained. In other words, the marketing mix helps a company formulate the right strategy when bringing a product to a market.
The original marketing mix was composed of 4 Ps, namely Product, Price, Promotion, and Place).
Product. The first component of the marketing mix is the product, which is a good or service that satisfies a need. The product can be tangible (i.e. a good such as food or clothing) or intangible (i.e. a service such as haircut or plumbing). While product directly refers to the actual good or service, it also involves other features such as quality, packaging, design, branding, warranties, and guarantees among others. For this post, we will use haircut as the product and young professionals as the target market.
Price. Price refers to the amount of money a consumer pays for the good or service. The price of a product is determined by numerous factors including the cost of production, supply and demand, pricing strategy chosen, and willingness/ability of the consumer to pay among others. Determining the correct price is important, since a price that is too low or too high might fail in persuading a consumer to purchase. In the example provided, the price of the haircut may be set at above average prices, since young professionals are likely more able and willing to pay higher fees for excellent service. Furthermore, price has often been associated with quality, and thus having a higher price can be enticing to young professionals who value good service. That said, the quality of the service should reflect the price.
Place. Place refers to the methods of distribution of the product. For instance, more traditional methods of distribution include retail locations, storefronts, and delivery. On the other hand, the rise of digital media has yielded new distribution methods, such as downloading and streaming for digital products (e.g. music and videos). When determining the place, it is necessary to identify where your target market can easily access your product. For example, your salon should be located in a place where young professionals gather such as in central business districts, trendy malls, or downtown mixed-use developments.
Promotion. Promotion pertains to the range of activities a company employs to promote a product to the target market—that is, to get the message across to the intended audience. These include advertisements, press releases, email marketing, word-of-mouth, and more recently, social media marketing. Promotion also includes sales promotion, which are offerings intended to entice target consumers. Examples include coupons, rebates, freebies, and product bundling. Going back to the example, promotion for your salon may include local advertisements, social media marketing, and word-of-mouth. Furthermore, a sample sales promotion would be giving discounts for bundled services.
The marketing mix was later expanded to become the 7 Ps by adding People, Process, and Physical Evidence. The modified marketing mix was specifically adapted for service industries, since the additional components are essential features of services.
People. This component refers to people directly related to the business such as those who manufacture the goods, those who render the services, and those who manage the daily operations. The success of a business greatly relies on the competence of the people behind it. Personnel should have the knowledge, skills, and experience necessary for carrying out their duties and responsibilities. People who believe in the business and its product are especially important in optimizing operations. In the example provided, key people include receptionists, managers, assistants, makeup artists, and skilled hairstylists among others.
Process. Process involves the set of activities that facilitate the delivery of the product to the customer. The number, duration, and complexity of these activities vary depending on the industry, and these may be performed by one or more individuals. Streamlining processes also helps in keeping costs low. For instance, setting up a well-designed workflow, a queuing system, an appointment system, and a computerized point of sale system can help a salon enhance the quality and delivery of service and thereby cultivate customer satisfaction.
Physical Evidence. Physical evidence refers to the physical elements that are part of or result from providing the product. Even if the product is intangible such as in the case of a service, there still are physical evidence involved such as the place where the service is rendered, materials used, facilities, furniture, and even invoices and receipts. However, physical evidence may also involve less concrete aspects such as interior design, layout, and aesthetics. For example, a hair salon primarily provides services, but its physical evidence include the completed haircut, the tools and equipment used by its personnel, and the salon itself. Physical evidence can also be used to win over consumers, such as in the case of creating an environment that appeals to the target market. For example, a sleek, modern, comfortable, and luxurious design for a salon perfectly fits with the expectations of young professionals.
The marketing mix is an excellent tool for developing strategies. However, it is important to note that what goes into each component of the marketing mix depends on the product and the target market. Therefore, knowing what your product is and who your customers are is essential for developing the full marketing mix.