Beyond the 4Ps of Marketing Mix

Posted in Marketing & Strategy Articles, Total Reads: 5851 , Published on 18 November 2012

As budding marketers, we have always been bombarded with “4Ps” by all our reputed pedagogues in every subject. So much so that we have conveniently and sometimes forcibly fit in the term into our midnight assignments!

Just a quick recap: 4ps translate into place, product, promotion and price. Also referred to as “Marketing Mix”, the term coined by Neil Borden. It has then been extended into the familiar 7Ps, 4Cs and may be more.

However, times have changed. Today, we live in a complex web of myriad products/service (and of course a bit of both!), whirlpool of hoardings, thousands of advertisements (especially brain-dead ones!) and the recent miracles: viral, mob, online and social marketing. So now when we look back at 4ps they seem to be becoming less and less relevant.

How many of us really mind paying a premium for a pair of Nike shoes? Do we really care if Coca Cola shuts down advertising? And I am sure Apple fans wouldn’t mind to cut through boundaries to acquire iPods, iPads and all the other “i”s that the company wows the world with.

Hence, an attempt is made to draw a different connotation to “The 4ps” to make them contemporary:

Y-E-S. Passion, Poise and Perseverance cocooning into a Personality. Let us look at each one of them.

Passion: The recent Michelle Obama’s DNC speech apparently evoked 4 million “wow”s across the world within just 10 seconds (Thanks to Viral Marketing!). Amazing, isn’t it? Listen to her for a minute and you would realize she’s on to something Big! Her passion oozed in her eyes and reflected in her words. And I particularly take this example as this is surely “Marketing”. She was marketing her husband and his presidential aspirations.

Big companies inculcated this passion into their consumers transforming successful brands into Cults!

Nike is more than “Just Do It” or the swoosh. It talks about Passion to perform; to compete; to excel; to learn and to hope. It looked beyond the conventional boundaries in delivering to its consumers. And what more?! The incredible team tied up with Apple to install iPods in shoes that pump-up/pump-down the tempo depending on the jogger’s heartbeat! Out-of-the-world isn’t it? And well, they also transformed this passion into compassion. They teamed up with Coca Cola to collect used plastic bottles to weave fabric out of it! Now, who must have even imagined that one day we will all be wearing comfortable and colourful plastic bottles?

Poise: is what great leaders and managers across the world learn as the first lesson! How else would have a confectionery leader, suddenly finding itself staring in the eye of disaster, wriggled out of it to claim it’s formidable throne again? Oh yes, I am referring to Cadbury.

Cadbury is emotionally embedded into Indian culture and hence when the first report of “infected chocolate” hit the media, consumers felt deep hurt rather than anger. But then, Cadbury did not bombard them with “sorry-are-we-really?” messages or brain-dead adverts. Instead, they took the problem head-on imported machines, went off air for 2 months before coming back with “Amitabh Bachchan-assures-you” PR campaign. All this happened because they did not panic. They cut through the times with composure; they were willing forgiven and accepted for their “sweet sins”

Perseverance: For those of you who aren’t aware of Colonel Sanders, he is the man behind finger-licking-good KFC chicken. You will be blown away to know that his secret recipe was rejected over a 1000 times before finally being accepted by a restaurant. And when he started KFC in full swing, he was 65!

He had a struggling past; he started working at a tender age of ten for $2 a month!!! From there, he went on to do countless menial jobs. He has donned many roles from farm-hand, streetcar conductor to a self-taught lawyer, insurance salesman and steamboat operator.

He started cooking at the age of 40 for travellers out of his service station. He then began experiments with herbs, spices and so on. He was forced to close down his restaurant business at 60 owing to a new highway being built. Yet, not succumbing to his monstrous string of failures he chose to start franchising at the age of 65! Here is a man who proved a point to all the “young blood” of the world that it is never too late to learn anything & to savour a phenomenal success!

Personality: Consumers no longer buy a product; they buy a personality.

Dove is for a woman who likes to be comfortable in her skin and yet cares for self; Lux is for a woman who loves to pamper herself & extremely beauty-conscious. A Harley Davidson rider is a huge rugged guy with wrist bands, head bands and who definitely wears attitude; A Hero Honda Karizma ZMR on the other hands is a man who is always up for any game. An Asmi is for a powerful & independent woman where as a Gitanjali is for a feminine, glitzy, wanna-feel-special woman.

These are only a few of an ocean of brands. It is important to create specific X-factor for a brand; it has to carry a personality that people are or aspire to be. Only then will consumers be motivated to buy. Not just that, they would also form an emotional bond with the brand for years to come!

The hidden 4Ps thus dawn on the new marketing world! Of course, I do not claim this list as a quick 4-way to success. But all the successful brands do possess one or more of these qualities. These mindsets should be developed to complement flavour of opportunity, fizz of perfect-timing and squash of common sense (which is so uncommon!). And then, say cheers to the success that follows!

This article has been authored by Sahiti Chintapalli and V Sunil Babu from SIBM Bangalore.


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