The evolution of the marketing mix is a journey through strategic elements vital for brand success. From the foundational 4Ps to the refined 7Ps and beyond, it encapsulates a dynamic interplay of product, price, promotion, and place, evolving to accommodate modern demands like personalisation and customer-centricity. Understanding this evolution aids in crafting strategies that resonate with today's diverse consumer landscape, propelling brands towards sustained relevance and growth.
What is marketing mix? How many variations of it are there? Are the basic elements of marketing mix still relevant today? Find all the answers below.
Table of Content
- The Concept of the Marketing Mix
- The 4P’s of Marketing
- The 7P’s of Marketing
- The 8th and 9th P’s of Marketing
Marketing Mix Definition
The marketing mix comprises strategic activities that help differentiate a brand from its competitors, meet evolving customer demands, and eventually, grow revenue.
According to Philip Kotler, “Marketing Mix is the set of controllable variables that the firm can use to influence the buyer’s response.”
These ‘variables’ are traditionally defined in marketing by 4Ps – product, price, place of distribution, and promotion.
To understand the basics of a marketing mix definition, consider the bare minimum requirements of a marketing strategy.
A business or marketing manager/executive first looks into the target market. It identifies the audience looking for a product that resolves their pain points. It also considers the competition – other businesses that sell a similar product and which are popular among the consumers.
Based on that, the business will meet the consumer’s demands by creating a product, promoting, distributing at a strategically determined place, and selling it at a competitive price.
All of these are codependent marketing efforts.
But today, there are many other ‘variables’ that need to be addressed in the marketing mix in order to create a solid strategy.
In this blog post, you will eventually find out that these other variables/components/elements are added to the traditionally defined marketing activities to accommodate the new age needs and trends. They are not removed nor given less importance to.
Evolution of the Marketing Mix – Then and Now
The phrase was first coined in 1948 by Professor James Culliton in the Management of Marketing Costs research bulletin. He described the role of a marketing executive as a ‘mixer of ingredients’ who mixes marketing strategies that together help an enterprise grow its revenue.
The Concept of the Marketing Mix | Neil H Borden
Based on this well-defined role of the marketing executive, Culliton’s associate, Professor Neil Borden popularised the term during the 1950s.
Also, in his retrospective, 1964 article, ‘The Concept of the Marketing Mix’, Borden describes that there could be multiple marketing mixes that a company’s management can go for as market factors are bound to change.
So the concept of the marketing mix developed by Borden covers 12 broad ingredients. He defines them as, ‘Elements of the Marketing Mix of Manufacturers’.
- Product Planning – It covers the policies relating to the qualities of the product, the target market, research and development, etc
- Pricing – It includes the pricing policies that are in relation to the prices to be adopted and maintained
- Branding – It is related to trademarks, labels, etc
- Channels of Distribution – It is a strategic supply chain management practice determining which channels to be used between the manufacturing plant and the consumer, selection of vendors, etc
- Personal Selling – It is the one-on-one activity of the manufacturing organisation’s and wholesale retailers’ sales representatives
- Advertising – It determines the advertising costs, the product’s image, etc
- Promotion – These are organisational policies that relate to allocating resources for promotional channels for consumers and trades
- Packaging – It determines how the package should be created
- Display – It looks into how the product should be placed, ie, the store locations that impacts sales
- Servicing – It determines the need for offering support for trade – wholesalers, retailers, etc
- Physical Handling – It relates to logistics management – warehousing, inventory, transportation
- Fact-Finding and Analysis – It is to use facts for all kinds of marketing operations
Borden also mentions that if the marketing mix has to be successful, “marketing management is [has] to understand the behavior of humans in response to the stimuli to which they are subjected.”
According to Borden, these 12 elements or marketing activities are determined by four broad psychological and sociological forces.
- Consumer Buying Behaviour – The motivation to purchase, buying and living habits, etc
- Trade’s Behaviour – The motivations of wholesalers, retailers, etc
- Competitor’s Position and Behaviour – These are influenced by the structure and size of the industry, size of competitors, supply and demand of a product with relation to technological trends, quality and pricing that dictates consumers, etc
- Governmental Behaviour – The regulations over products, pricing, advertising and promotions as controlled by government bodies
The 4P’s of Marketing | E. Jerome McCarthy
Professor McCarthy distilled Borden’s 12 elements of the marketing mix into four categories in his book, Basic Marketing: A Managerial Approach (1960). All these four categories started with the initial letter, P. Hence, the classification – 4P’s.
A product is defined by its characteristics such as design, packaging, volume, etc. And marketers ask these basic questions when creating a product strategy.
- What does the consumer want?
- What is the USP (unique selling proposition) of the product?
- How can you differentiate your product from your competitors?
- What is the desired level of quality of the product that will help your brand image?
- What will be the profit margin by developing this product?
Apart from that, there are different stages in a product life cycle to consider. The product life cycle consists of four stages, based on which, the product strategy can be changed.
- Development – Planning a product to create a demand and introducing the product in the market
- Growth – The product has a high demand in the market and drives sales
- Maturity – At this stage the product has steady distribution channels and the product can be modified to outgrow the competition
- Decline – This is the stage when the product is less preferred by consumers and the organisation can remove it from the market.
It is a revenue-generating strategy and the most crucial element in the marketing mix that determines how the company will thrive. It is also what differentiates a company from its competition, as products can be similar but prices are more transparent and comparable online. This is one reason why many businesses leverage competitive discounts on their products.
Considering today’s example on pricing, unicorns such as Zomato leverages affordability in their business model. You may refer to the business model of the brand on Zomato’s digital marketing strategy.
The pricing strategy also determines the spending on a marketing budget. When the product’s profit margin is high, an organisation spends more on marketing activities.
To create a pricing strategy, marketers ask
- What are pricing strategies of competitors?
- The lowest and highest prices for the product to be sold
This historically relates to advertising on traditional formats such as print, television, etc. It also refers to choosing the right promotion channels as stated above in Borden’s 12 elements of the marketing mix.
But the channels of promotion are much broader today and go beyond direct selling, sales promos, public events, etc. To promote products or services, companies utlise online and offline marketing campaigns. In this category of the marketing mix, marketers have to identify the right channels to promote.
Modern marketers also have to offer a smooth transition from marketing to sales. Along with that, they cannot ignore personalisation, which remains the buzzword among today’s marketing scenario. As technology has paved the way for digital marketing, marketers can promote products through the following digital channels.
- Email marketing – To nurture customers through personalised discounts or offers. In general, brands today use email marketing tools to personalise marketing communications for new and existing customers. This digital channel is highly effective for lead nurturing.
- Social media marketing – To reach out to a new audience who may not be aware of the product or the brand. Brands create a specific social media strategy to promote its products to optimising customer engagement across relevant social media channels such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
- Search engine marketing – To use SEO and paid search tactics so that potential customers are able to find the brand on search engines. Paid search platforms such as Google Ads and Facebook Ads are targeted by marketers today.
- Content marketing – Indirect promotion of products are also done through an organisation’s website through SEO guidelines and inbound marketing tactics.
It determines how and where the product will reach the customer. Marketing efforts will pay off when the product reaches the customer at the right time. That’s why the location of the business matters. One of the best examples of the place factor in the marketing mix is Domino’s Pizza. It utilises a fortressing strategy where Domino’s stores are present in short radiuses. Along with that it has a centralised supply chain system that makes its operations efficient. You can review more of it in Domino’s digital marketing strategy.
Also, note that these Ps are marketing strategies on their own and they codepend on each other. Along with that, the 4Ps are still being used today by major brands such as Burger King, Coca-Cola, etc.
The 7P’s of Marketing | Bernard H Booms and Mary J Bitner
Also known as the extended MM model or service marketing mix, this model adds three other factors to align with customers. This expanded marketing mix model was introduced to help modern businesses align their marketing strategies better.
The 7Ps are mostly used today instead of the 4Ps as they are more refined to cater to the modern needs of customers who demand personalisation and transparency from brands they know.
For instance, the consumer has more power. This is because the internet that has all information about products. It is much easier to compare prices and research features of products. Now, they have more options to choose from.
Even modern marketing guru, Seth Godin mentions that modern technology has made it easier for companies that have better marketing strategies and products become ‘winners’.
These three elements of the extended marketing mix model includes
- People – There are two sides here. One group of people is represented by the organisation – from marketing and sales departments to managing directors. The other, are consumers. For a brand to be successful today, this element should not be ignored. That’s why modern organisations give a lot of importance to customer relationship management platforms such as HubSpot CRM. With good customer service, even with AI-driven chatbots, maintaining relationships with customers becomes easy and creates a good perception of a brand.
- Process – This is another interdependent factor. It includes everything from catering to your target market and personalising communication to distributing your products. Making processes efficient is a way to reduce dissatisfaction among consumers. One of the best ways to do so is marketing automation. With marketing automation platforms, you can streamline communication across all consumer touchpoints, and much more. Such platforms remove guesswork and help identify customer needs.
- Physical Evidence – It refers to all visible attributes that makes your brand stand out in the market. Some common examples are your website, social network, physical store, etc. Such physical evidence gives your brand legitimacy and also facilitate trust among customers.
The 8th and 9th P’s of Marketing | Larry Steven Strode
While you read that the 7 P’s were introduced in the 80s, the marketing scene has come a long way since then. And it is more dynamic than ever.
It was Larry Steven Strode who introduced the 9P’s of Marketing back in 2007. The two other crucial components of marketing mix aim to offer macroscopic and microscopic views to marketing efforts
- Presentation – It is about presenting any of the components of the marketing mix in a strategic manner. For example, according to Strode, one cannot know the consumer enough through clicks or impressions. Brands can focus on offering consumers how the brand is felt or experienced in a positive light. One such activity is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
- Partners – Joint ventures can help businesses expand and acquire more customers. There can be in-house partnerships in large companies as well as outside partnerships. Of course, partnerships with direct competitors do not work. Ideally, when choosing partners, businesses consider that their partner organisation has a similar target audience.
So this is how the marketing mix has evolved over the decades. All of these nine components can help a brand determine its path to success.
And if you are keen on learning each of the components to apply them strategically in the real world, consider courses such as Marketing Mix Fundamentals on Coursera, or, Master Digital Marketing: The Marketing Mix on FutureLearn.
FAQs on Marketing Mix
What are the elements of the marketing mix?
The marketing mix traditionally comprises four fundamental elements known as the 4Ps: product, price, place, and promotion. These elements represent strategic activities that businesses utilise to influence consumer responses, differentiate their brand, and drive revenue growth.
How has the marketing mix evolved over time?
Initially introduced with the 4Ps by Professor McCarthy in the 1960s, the marketing mix has evolved to include additional elements. It expanded to the 7Ps model, integrating people, process, and physical evidence to adapt to modern customer-centric demands for personalisation and brand transparency.
Why is the marketing mix important for businesses?
The marketing mix serves as a comprehensive framework for businesses to formulate effective strategies. It enables them to navigate product development, pricing strategies, promotional activities, and distribution channels, aligning with consumer needs and market trends to enhance competitiveness and drive growth.
How do the 4Ps of the marketing mix relate to each other?
The 4Ps—product, price, place, and promotion—are interdependent elements in a marketing strategy. They work together cohesively, with product influencing price, place determining distribution channels, and promotional strategies impacting product visibility and consumer engagement.
Are there additional elements beyond the traditional marketing mix?
Yes, the marketing mix has expanded to include elements such as people, process, and physical evidence (the 7Ps model) to adapt to the evolving consumer landscape. Moreover, newer concepts like presentation and partnerships (the 9Ps model) have emerged, emphasising strategic branding and collaborative ventures for sustained success.