In the last decade, there has been an ongoing debate on the legitimacyof the traditional marketing mix. Though it is undisputable that the 4Ps marketingmix is a milestone of marketing theory, globalization and the evolution of technologycreated new business contexts that highlight some of the limits of thisframework. Service businesses and e-commerce are prime example pf businesscontexts that require new marketing paradigms. Today, researchers and marketerscan be separated into two groups: the conservatives, who believe that thetraditional marketing mix is capable to comply to the new business demands byadding new Ps, and the revisionists, who think that the 4Ps are outdated andshould be replaced by a new marketing theory.
This leads us to ask thefollowing: To what extent is the traditional marketing mix relevant/irrelevantfor today’s marketers. The purpose of this paper is to try to answer thisquestion by assessing the limits of the Marketing Mix, and to see how thisframework adapts to the evolving trends in business and to the environmentalchanges. The Marketing Mix that we know of today was first introducedaround 1960. It origins from Neil Borden’s twelve marketing elements, which hefirst introduced during his American Marketing Association presidential speechin 1953. Jerome McCarthy summarized Borden’s theory to give birth to the 4Ps: product,price, place and promotion. Since then, this marketing theory has been widely acceptedby most marketers and academics and taught to most business students. Indeed, astudy carried out among 550 European companies, revealed that 70% of them usethis marketing paradigm. The strong adoption can be explained on the basis ofits simplicity of use and understanding which makes it an easy and usefultheory for all marketers.
The concept of marketing mix is considered as acluster of “ingredients” that marketers may leverage to satisfy market need sothat profit is optimized. While the success of this Mix is undoubtable, thereis no evidence on the role and contribution of the 4Ps to the success of these businesscompanies. As a result, some academics express their doubts and reject the 4Ps Mix.The main criticisms this marketing theory has faced are the lack of marketingrelationship and the exclusion of services and e-commerce from the mix. Theconservatives agree that, with the expansion of digital technologies, newfunctionalities should be added, however these functionalities would beconsidered as new categories within the existing mix. They believe that the mixshould not be completely removed as it still is capable to adapt to the newneeds in most part.
Among the new functionalities that should be added to eachof the 4Ps, here are the most coveted.Concerning product, this mix should highlight the benefitsthat a customer gains once he purchases a product. As a customer, products andservices are seen as a solution to a problem. This is the main benefit acustomer looks at when buying a product or service. However, in addition tothis aspect, marketers believe that firms should offer along their product, astrong emotional element to create a bond that will ensure long-lastingcustomers.
In this sense, companies would not only sell a product, but a wholeexperience that would elevate the purchase procedure. The application of thisdefinition has never been easier thanks to the Internet. This virtual interfaceenables firm to implement digital customer relationship management that focussolely on creating a bond with the customers.
In addition, customers can gatherall the information about the product without having any expense. Moving on to the next P: Price. Price should take intoconsideration the value customers attribute to a product or service. Whenconsidering a marketing strategy, marketers should not only focus on the priceof the product or service, they should also take into account the total cost ofthe consumer, including opportunity cost and the value of the product to theclient.
This new articulation of price highlights what the customer is givingup his balance for. For example, a customer shopping at Bond Street (luxuriousstreet in London) will feel special. A good purchase procedure or a goodcustomer service is another example of an intangible aspect that can increase valuefor a customer.
Once again relationship marketing is highlighted.TransitionPlace should be defined nowadays as all that is done to makesure the purchase and distribution of the product or service work impeccably forthe customer. In our modern society, the consumer’s choice is driven byconvenience. This is the result of rapid technological advances that enablecustomers to purchase and receive a product or service with the click of abutton. Customers don’t want to put in any substantial effort when purchasingany goods or services. They want convenience.
This ease of doing businesspushes firms to adapt marketing strategies that develop methods that best workfor customers to ensure their loyalty.Finally, the last P – Promotion. Promotion should translateinto all of the information that is received by the customer. In the 21stCentury, the Internet has become one of the most common tool of masscommunication. Contrarily to TV ads and billboards, Internet ads are tailoredto specific customers with specific wants and needs. In addition, Internet ads,similar to TV ads, are seen by customers in moments of low involvement and highinformative awareness. Thus, the customer feels relaxed, confident and awarewhen visioning and ad.
This increases the likelihood of a purchase. All thesecharacteristics should be considered when promoting a product. Of course, thesemarketing strategies do not fit all business contexts. In response to these new requirements, conservative have developednew marketing mix in the goal to adapt to the new business trends. Among themany marketing theories, here are the most … First, Booms’ and Bitner’s 7Ps.This Marketing mix, similarly to all marketing theories in this list, kept theoriginal 4ps and added physical evidence, process and people.
This new modelaims at trying to improve customer relationship and retention. It is for thisreason it has been strongly linked with service marketing. However, this modelis not limited to such business models. Marketers of all types of businesscould benefit from the 7Ps.
Nowadays, no matter the business structure, thereis some service element to it that would use the model. Chen’s 8Ps model is another model that bases its marketingtheory around the traditional 4Ps. In addition to McCarthy’s Mix, Chen addsprecision, payment, personalization and push and pull. This model tries toadapt to the new digital world we live in. In this mix, precision refers toprecise segment targeting thanks to the internet database that provides us withthe preferences of the consumer. Payment designated a safe and easy remittanceprocedure for customers.
Personalization suggests a smooth platform wherecustomers can buy with no substantial efforts. And finally, Push and Pullconcerns . While these models still hold as their core elements thetraditional mix, other authors (the revisionists) propose a radicalreconceptualization of the Mix. We notice that the main shortcomings of the 4Psinvolve customer retention. Indeed, when this marketing framework was firstintroduced, firms focused on mass marketing, thus neglecting the importance ofcustomer relationship.
However, nowadays, with the new technological advances,the modern customer has gained more power due to the availability of free informationand the easy access to networks and databases. The contemporary customer hasbecome more demanding then in the past. As a result, marketing strategies shiftedfrom product-oriented to a customer-oriented. This shift has also been noticedin the Business-to Business context.
Strong relationships between sellers andbuyers are very important factors in the success of an industrial business. Incontrast to the mass-oriented character of the traditional mix, strong andlong-term relationships is the main focus of industrial sellers. Another keyinstrument for sellers to ensure future profits is trust. This entails thatboth parties trust the others’ expertise to deliver on their promise.
AsMoorman et al. say, trust is the “willingness to rely on an exchange partner inwhom one has confidence”, thus the success in Business to Business Marketing isbased on the quality of the interdependence between firms. The importance ofcustomer relationship can be easily expanded to other business context. Servicemarketing is an example. The traditional mix considers the buyer as a passive agentand rejects one-to-one relationship between the provider and the consumer.
Ofcourse, this perception of marketing does not correspond to service marketing. Theinteraction between the seller and the consumer is very important in thisbusiness context. It has a direct effect on the valuation of the product by theconsumer. This is why the concept of relationship marketing is praised by mostservice marketers. Service marketers define marketing as the action to “establish,maintain and enhance relationships with customers and other partners, at aprofit, so that the objectives of the parties involved are met. This isachieved by a mutual exchange and fulfilment of promises”. In this definition,an important element in relationship marketing is promise.
Marketers should notonly give promises in the goal to attract customers, they should make sure thesepromises are kept to ensure long-lasting relationships. This human element, keyto the success of services, is what the traditional mix is lacking. The human factorplays an important role in the persuasion of the customer. It elevates the perceptionof the product. Another business context that focuses on relationship marketingis the e-commerce.
Following the commercialization of the Internet, more andmore online businesses emerged known ase-commerce. In order to succeed, such business modelrequires a very smooth and clear interface accompanied with good customerservice, which is operational internationally 24/7. These requirements do notcomply with the internally oriented traditional mix. Indeed, looking at thecharacteristics of a successful e-commerce marketing strategies, the 4Pmarketing mix seems inadequate. The lack of interactivity urges a move awayfrom the outdated framework.The final business structure that this paper will cover isthe retail business. In the past, when mass marketing was at its peak, it theproducers would implement internally oriented marketing strategies in the goal ofincreasing brand recognition, while retailers were charged with simplyfunctions such as stocking the shelves.
However, nowadays there has been aradical switch in the roles. Nowadays, retailers are adopting marketingapproaches that engages with the customer and ensure his experience ismemorable. There has been a wide variety of new marketing theories thattried to take the criticism of the 4Ps into consideration in the quest to createa complete Marketing theory. Lauterborn developed the 4Cs with place becomingconvenience, product becoming customer value, price becoming customer cost andpromotion becoming customer communication.
The shift from P to C highlights thenew focus on customer rather than product. Beamish and Ashford proposed the 7Csmix, with, in addition to Lauterbon’s 4Cs mix, coordination, consideration andconfirmation. Dev and Schultz suggested a completely different model: The SIVAmix. The SIVA replaces product with solution, promotion with information, pricewith value and place with access. The traditional marketing mix was introduced in the 1960, aperiod where mass production was at its peak. Firms would establish internallyoriented strategies and focus on offering few products and follow an economy ofscale in the goal to maximize profit. Today, with the technological advances, the4Ps mix has become outdated. Two limitation explains the inefficiency of thismix.
First, the lack of explicit market input. Since its strategy is internallyoriented, this means it give very little attention to the customer. As aresult, the firm gave very little power to the consumer. Second, the lack of personalization.The traditional mix was developed during an era where mass marketing was verycommon. Firms focused on producing brands with high profit margins. Once again,this strategy neglects the customer.
In the quest of finding a new marketing theory, marketersand academics are trying to identify a marketing mix that would substitute the traditionalmix. We notice two distinct group of marketers: the conservatives and therevisionist. The former try to develop a market theory based on the 4Ps mix,while the latter aim to completely conceptualize a new mix. However, to thisday, there hasn’t been a mix that is as effective as the traditional mix wasduring the 60’s.
Having said this, the basics of the 4Ps are still valid tosome extent nowadays. However, I personally believe, that a marketing theorycannot be defined by a list. Such structure can never cover all the differentbusiness contexts. This is why we see throughout the years new Ps added to theoriginal because a new business structure has been discovered.