The marketing mix is arguably the most renowned marketing theory or all time (Eid 2002). The phrase “marketing mix” was coined by Borden (1964) in the early sixties after reading Culliton’s (1948) work in which he describes a business executive as a “mixer of ingredients” (Rafiq et al 1995). This formed a milestone in the development of marketing planning and the conversation of planning into practice.
When the phrase marketing mix was initially coined by Borden (1964) he suggested twelve fundamental principles that would make up the mix thus becoming the starting point of a marketing campaign, these were:
- Product planning,
- Channels of distribution,
- Personal selling,
- Physical handling,
- Fact-finding and analysis.
In 1964 McCarthy offered his own hybrid theory of the marketing mix, based on Borden’s (1964) framework, and called it the four P’s. This model became so popular and widely accepted amongst academics and practitioners alike that the whole marketing mix process was redefined and often even referred to as “the four P’s” in many circles (Bennett 1997). The four P’s model condensed Borden’s framework into the categories of product, price, promotion and place but each of these categories contained sub-mixes, for example the complete model contains the product mix and the price mix. The four P’s framework, while not as extensive as Borden’s (1964) twelve principles, formed the foundation for many other marketing theories that were about to transpire, mainly because of its academic weight and the fact that it was much easier to commit to memory than a twelve point framework.
Schewe et al (1998) highlights the importance of recognising the sub mixes within the overall four P’s model so as not to overlook any part of a marketing plan.
The Marketing Mix (2003)
The following table illustrates the different mixes within each aspect of the preceding model:
Due to the word count restriction in place within this report it is impossible to explore each of the above sub-mixes in detail, however, they will be looked at generally. Each of the sub-mixes contained within the table are relatively self-explanatory and covered in most basic marketing literature (Rafiq et al 1995).
The above table highlights the fact that each of the P’s at the forefront of the model [product, price, promotion and place] are not the simple rudimentary definitions they may appear to be.
The product contains a whole variety of factors that should be considered as a part of a marketing campaign as each and every aspect of the product that can be viewed in a positive light can be exploited to attempt to gain favour for the product in the marketplace. For example if a computer is being advertised and the package includes a two year warranty, then this is something that the promotions team should draw attention to in an attempt to gain favour for the product.
As with the product aspect of the model, price has several areas that can be exploited by marketers in an attempt to better promote the product. For example the consumer’s attention should be drawn to any discounts or leasing options that maybe available that could either rush people from within the target market into making a purchase [limited period special offers] or make the product more affordable to the target market [if the product is discounted].
The place aspect of the four P’s model can be exploited by showing people how easily the product can be made available to them or how efficient it will be to them in their present locations. For example the telecommunications company Orange market their service as the UK’s most reliable, with the highest percentage coverage in the UK (Coverage 2003).
Promotion is perhaps the most obvious of the four P’s and contains everything that can be done to endorse a product. The promotion aspect covers everything from the actual marketing message to how it is to be delivered.
1.2 The addition of a fifth P
For eleven years following McCarthy’s (1964) original four P’s suggestion, several academics saw fit to try to build a more comprehensive framework by adding a fifth P to the mix. However, the student would question the motives for the creation of some of these theories, which are shown below.
One fundamental flaw, in the opinion of the student, of all of the five P models is that they are an attempt to expand on, and therefore complicate, a theory which owes its success to its simplicity.
Nickel et al (1976) – Packaging
Packaging was one of the original sub-mixes within the four P’s theory. Packaging is undoubtedly an important part of marketing a product and directly influences a products image (Packaging 2003); however, it is unrealistic to assume it alone carries enough weight to put it on a level with the other P’s. As shown by the diagram in section 1.1 each of the four P’s has a sub-mix made up of at least five independent characteristics that are generic to most products. Anyone would be hard pressed to suggest this many useful characteristics of packaging that would be applicable to the majority of products. Promoting packaging from a sub-mix to a “main-mix” would therefore unbalance the model.
Mindak et al (1981) – Public relations
As with packaging, this was one of the original sub-mixes, this time of the promotion-mix. Unlike packaging it could be argued that public relations is a large enough field to necessitate a main-mix, however, the notion of developing a new theory simply by promoting a sub-mix of the old model is too easy and also unnecessary. The field is covered in the original model therefore all Mindak does is draw more attention to the field. In the author’s opinion all attempts to take credit for a new theory that span from the rearranging of an old one are lame.
Mindak’s theory, as an attempt to design a generic marketing framework, is also flawed as many smaller organisations do not designate resources to public relations as it is deemed unnecessary, making the original four P’s theory more viable in those instances.
Kotler (1986) – Power
While an interesting suggestion because of its uniqueness [it was not taken directly from the sub-mixes like many other suggested theories] the addition of power was a theory that was to be applied to specific organisational situations which therefore gives more weight to the argument put forward by Rafiq et al (1995) which is summarised at the end of this section.
Kotler (1986) – Public relations [in the instance of megamarketing]
Kotler has attempted the same sub-mix promotion tactic as Mindak, however, has made his theory more specific by designating it to megamarketing where it is undoubtedly more viable. The problem with this theory is similar to the preceding one regarding power. By gearing a theory towards a specific situation [megamarketing], while making the theory more accurate in the instance it is to be applied, the theory loses weight as a generic theory. Saying that is not critical of the theory, just the generalness of it.
Judd (1987) – People
People plays a weighted roll in the following stages of the development of the marketing mix as it comprises part of the next milestone model to be discussed, the seven P’s.
Judd’s reason for suggesting the addition of people was another attempt to create a theory that applied to a specific situation rather than develop a generic framework. Judd’s idea was to differentiate in industrial marketing which is an area that flourishes through personal relationships and personal selling. The fact that this mix was designed to be used in a specific market enforces the following argument originally presented by Rafiq et al (1995):
Each of the 5 P’s suggestions have come about in an attempt to provide a solution to a specific marketing problem which, by nature, limits the credibility of the theories to a generically acceptable mix as there authors are now claiming them to be.
Another significant factor in the development of the various five P variations seemingly ignored by Rafiq et al (1995) was the fact that they are all related to various environmental business trends. It is possible to identify in which epoch (Rohner 1996) each of the preceding theories came about by taking its date and applying it to the marketing timeline in section 2.3, each of the epochs are explored in section 1.4.
1.3 The seven P’s
The seven P’s (Booms et al 1981) was undoubtedly the most ground-breaking theory to come about since the original four P’s framework. Booms et al (1981) designed the theory because at the time of its conception, [see section 1.4 onwards for information regarding the time and economic conditions when each theory was devised] even though the service industry was thriving, there was no generic service orientated marketing model. The seven P’s met the demand for a generic services mix so well, by striking a counterbalance for the intangible service, that it was often referred to as “the service mix” (Booms et al 1981). The seven P’ are made up of the original four P’s with the addition of the following three P’s:
The addition of people was necessary in service marketing, primarily, as it is the people who develop and create a service (Chaffey et al 2000). There is also the case put forward by Smith et al (2002) that every person within an organisation is an ambassador for it.
“Processes refer to the internal and sometimes external processes, transactions and internal communications that are required to run a business” (Smith et al 2002)
Chaffey et al (2000) argue that process is the most important of the additional P’s with regard to service marketing, this is because the process of production is not behind closed doors as it would be with the manufacturing of a product. This means that the process is entirely visible to the person buying the service which in turn means they will be able to see any sub-standard processes that take place.
Physical evidence: –
The original reason for the inclusion of physical evidence within the model was to put people’s minds at ease when they were buying intangible goods. For example someone would be willing to pay more for a service that was delivered by what they would deem to be a professional [an image possibly portrayed by a large office building, uniforms and badges (Smith et al 2002)] than someone they deemed to be unofficial or unprofessional. Physical evidence accompanying a service is one way off adding value to it (Chernatony et al 2000).
In today’s ecommerce society physical evidence can be twisted to mean evidence that an organisation that exists online also exists offline [or at all] (Smith et al 2002). This is an increasingly important factor as one major concern people who order products online have is the credibility of the organisation who they are ordering from. Peoples concerns are eased if they are aware of some physical existence behind the online portal. This, however, was not Booms et al (1981) original “physical evidence” concept and is instead an adaptation of it to apply it to the current economic climate.
The three additional P’s are critical in the development of services (Smith et al 2002), however, their usefulness today as an ecommerce model can be easily overlooked (Chaffey et al 2000).
1.4 The effect of the world economy on the marketing mix
The marketing mix, and subsequently the four P’s, came about at a time when mass production was the focus of many industries especially growth industries [that were under increasing production demands such as the car industry]. These industries were, at the time, more focused on selling than the complex process of marketing (Galbraith 1958).
The different marketing eras are significant to the evolution of the marketing mix process and are defined by many authors. One of the most useful set of definitions are the “marketing epochs” suggested by Rohner (1996). Rohner defines the time period whereby the marketing mix came about as the second epoch and describes it as “mass production through industrialisation”. He highlights how, during this epoch the end customer [or the consumer] lost the power they previously held during the first epoch as they were no longer the centre figure in the marketing/selling process. The first two of the basic marketing epochs will now be explained so that they can later be placed side by side with the evolution of the marketing mix to show how the change in economic circumstances has coincided with the development of the marketing mix:
Epoch 1: –
Local uniqueness (Rohner 1996) is defined as the time in which there was no active marketing taking place and people traded through barter, while this time period had no active marketing it is likely that some form of promotion will have taken place either by word of mouth or people demonstrating their goods to others. Ultimately the power lay with the producer and the end customer [consumer]. The producer could decide upon which end user would be able to use the product, restricting access to it if so desired, while the consumer could choose from the entire range of products and decide which producer to trade with. At that time there were no middlemen involved as the majority of exchanges took place for mutual benefit and there was no mutual benefit at all in going through a middle man. The main reason for this was that products could not be mass-produced so trade tended to be more in the form of “one off” items.
Epoch 2: –
Mass production through industrialisation (Rohner 1996) is, as its name implies, the era of mass production which started off the twentieth century (Davies 2003) with the best example being Henry Ford’s Model-T. The Model-T was and still is the best example of a product that was designed from a seller’s point of view with no input at all from the customer’s perspective exemplified by Henry Ford’s famous quote:
“An American can have a Ford in any colour, so long as it’s black”
(Brainy Quote 2003)
This epoch represents a power shift in that the customer [consumer] lost power in not only the generation of the product but also its distribution; the producer maintained a high level of control. The reason for the shift in power was the increase in the use of middlemen [retailers] in product distribution. The producers were increasingly keen to sell their products to retailers as they were willing to buy in bulk which allowed for the faster product-to-cash conversions (Levitt 1960). The power held by the consumer in the first epoch was eroded by the ability of the retailer who could decide what products to stock therefore limiting the previously wide choice of the consumer.
The marketing mix represents a realisation of the need to focus on the needs of the customer and not the needs of the seller as was the common practice throughout the second epoch. Levitt (1960) highlights the key difference between selling and marketing in his article Marketing Myopia by showing how marketing focuses on meeting the needs of the seller whereas selling just has the narrow focus of converting a product to cash. Much of the basic marketing theory highlights that, ultimately, more profit can be generated if an organisation provides customer satisfaction (Asher 1989) and there is no better way of doing this than putting their needs in the centre of the marketing approach.
Referring back to the Bupa example it is obvious that the service they are selling is one that is tailored to the customer, taking into account their needs and wants. This service is not as focused on the product-to-cash as a mass produced spanner set of which the primary goal is to drive down production costs in an attempt to maximise profits. Levitt (1960) refers to the tailored service as a “value satisfying service” and adds “that consumers want to buy”.
The service sector experienced growth in the seventies (Berry et al 2003) and this growth was reflected in the evolution of the marketing mix. It was a popular consensus that the four P’s were unsuited to the service sector (Shostack 1977; 1979). Booms et al (1981) adapted the four P’s model to include people, process and physical evidence thus renaming the model the seven P’s. This model was set to once again revolutionise marketing theory. By the late eighties the marketing of services had established itself as a vital business process with the primary generic framework in place being the seven P’s model (Rafiq et al 1995). A fairly recent study carried out by Rafiq et al (1995) showed that the seven P’s framework was the most widely accepted generic marketing mix in use, especially within the service industry. The growth of the service industry coincided with the third marketing epoch which was called the stage of differentiated products (Rohner 1996). This epoch signified a shift in the centralisation of the marketing process towards the customer once again. Marketers categorised consumers into different groups and this process was sometimes called segmenting (Cahill 1997). These groups could then be targeted more specifically. One of the facilitators for this type of marketing was the ever-improving technology that was becoming readily available and more affordable, often making the targeting of market segments more accurate and less time consuming.
Epoch four: –
Customer individuality in the global market was, at the time of publication, something Rohner (1996) referred to as the future. This epoch is facilitated entirely by the “age of information” or the “information era”. Today  we have taken a big step into this epoch. Rohner (1996) predicted that the epoch would come about in stages. For further information regarding this epoch it is useful to review pages 20-22 of Rohner (1996) where his predictions of direct marketing, online marketing and cybermarketing are introduced. It will not be covered in detail here as the majority of it was a prediction of the future which has now become the past. Rohner (1996) was predicting the implementation and growth of online marketing and CRM [customer relationship management] (Law et al 2003). While the prediction was relatively accurate, a more factual assessment of the actual events that have taken place is more appropriate for the base of a study such as this.