Importance of the Marketing Mix

6 June 2016

Introduction The term “marketing mix” was introduced by Neil Borden in his 1964 article “The Concept of the Marketing Mix”. Borden’s (1964) original marketing mix was a list of 12 elements that make up a marketing programme. McCarthy (1964) refined Borden’s list and reduced Borden’s 12 elements to four Ps: product, price, place and promotion. In addition, McCarthy (1964) defined the marketing mix as “a combination of all the factors at a marketing manager’s command to satisfy the target market” (Groucutt, Leadly and Forsyth, 2004: 17). For Grönroos (1994), the four Ps has become “the universal marketing model or even theory and an almost totally dominating paradigm for most academics”. In recent years, the concept of the four Ps has been faced with a lot of criticism due to its oversimplification (Lauterborn, 1990; Waterschoot & van der Bulte, 1992; Kotler, 1984; Gummesson, 1997). The purpose of this essay will be to analyse critically the four Ps of the marketing framework in view of its usefulness. 1. The marketing mix framework

Marketing is a broad and complex subject (Brassington and Pettitt, 2006). Therefore a model is needed which reflects the complex subject in a simplified form by mapping the essential elements and their relationships to each other, thus used for description, explanation and design in practice. This is achieved by the four Ps of the marketing concept. One of the main reasons why the framework has been extremely influential in marketing theory and practice is because of its simplicity and easy understanding (Grönroos, 1994). Nowadays, successful companies like “Diesel” rely on the marketing concept and underpin its utility (The Times 100, 2010). 2. Criticism of the four Ps of Marketing

Importance of the Marketing Mix Essay Example

Borden’s (1964) intention was not to create a fixed framework. Quite the contrary, he assumed that others might build a different mix. But in fact, when comparing McCarthy’s (1964) four Ps with Borden’s (1964) 12 elements on theoretical base, it appears to be too limited. First of all it looks as if the concept of the four Ps focuses too much on product instead of customer. Dixon and Blois (1983, cited in Grönroos, 1994: 6) states: “The views implicit in the four P approach is that the customer is somebody to whom something is done!”. This suggests, that the marketing mix rather manipulate than identify and satisfy customer needs. For Grönroos (1994), due to increasing globalization and competition, customer relationship and retention are essential elements of 21st century marketing. Essentially, it appears that the four Ps contain no personalized relationships between seller and customer. That leads to another problem, particularly in the fields of industrial and service marketing.

The four Ps of the marketing concept seems to be orientated towards consumer goods and therefore it might fit well. But in industrial marketing, where the focus is on buyer-seller relationships and not products, the four Ps are not enough because of its lack of personal contacts (Webster, 1984 cited in Rafiq and Ahmed, 1995: 4). Industrial Marketing requires more coordination between buyer and seller due to its product and buying process complexity (Webster, 1984 cited in Rafiq and Ahmed, 1995: 4). Another sector, where the four Ps reaches its limits, is the growing service based economy. Services are quite different from consumer goods, because of their intangibility. Furthermore it is difficult to compare quality of related services and to set the right price. Thus, the four Ps appear inadequate and need to be modified for services and also extended (Booms & Bitner, 1981, cited in Rafiq and Ahmed, 1995:6) 3. The seven Ps of service marketing

Booms and Bitner (1981) developed a new framework, the seven Ps mix, by adding three elements to the traditional four Ps: participants, physical evidence and processes (Rafiq and Ahmed, 1995). Participants in the Booms and Bitner (1981) framework are all people who are involved in the consumption of a service. The staff for example, plays a major role to guarantee quality and gives a service additional value. Physical evidence covers the environment in which the service is delivered (Rafiq and Ahmed, 1995).

It is important that services are made tangible for customers to determine the quality. Process is important to ensure that the consumer understands getting a service (Rafiq and Ahmed, 1995). However, critics could argue that the additional three Ps are not necessary and could be assimilated into the four Ps of the marketing mix concept. But in fact it is essential to separate them from the basic four Ps, to highlight their importance (Bitner, 1990, cited in Rafiq and Ahmed, 1995: 7). Table 1 shows the strengths and weaknesses of the two frameworks, according to a survey by Rafiq and Ahmed (1995).

Table 1: Strengths and weaknesses of the 4Ps and 7Ps (Rafiq and Ahmed, 1995: 13) modified by David Boersig The figure shows that the seven Ps provide some advantages to the four Ps and it is a good extension that should kept in mind. The results of the survey by Rafiq and Ahmed (1995) suggest that there might be a need for change towards the seven Ps framework. In any case, it is important that the Ps are not being seen as individual categories. The whole marketing concept must be internally coherent and each company will have to develop their individual marketing mix that creates competitive edge (Brassington and Pettitt, 2006). Conclusion

The four Ps simplifies the complexity of marketing and has become influential in both theory and practice. However, it is important to remember that the marketing mix is a model and cannot include everything. The marketing mix should not be seen as a fix. Today, in a changing world, the marketing mix has to be flexible and up to date. A company that is too much product focused and ignore customer needs, will get left behind by competitors. Nevertheless, in service marketing, the four Ps of the marketing concept reach its limits. The seven Ps framework of Booms and Bitner (1981) provide an appropriate extension to them. Finally, regardless of what the critics think about the four Ps framework, there is one thing that marketing can never be: Perfect.

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