The marketing mix can be considered as the most famous marketing term after it was published in 1964 in an article by Neil H. Borden. The term has become common in marketing because its elements are the fundamental, tactical components of a marketing plan. The marketing mix elements are product, price, place, and promotion which are the four major categories that guide marketing decisions. These four elements are also parameters that marketing managers can control based on the internal and external constraints of the marketing environment.
History of the Marketing Mix:
As an important topic in marketing, the concept of the marketing mix was generated in 1948 by James Culliton who described the marketing manager as a combination of ingredients. In his development of the idea, Culliton stated that marketing decisions should be the product of something like receipt. Culliton's explanations analogues to the restaurants provision of the same recipe though customers always choose the tasty one.
The initial concept of the marketing mix was further developed and refined by Neil H. Borden in 1964 who actually coined the term marketing mix. In his description, Borden's marketing mix included several variables like product planning, branding, packaging, distribution channels, advertising, pricing, and display. Additional ingredients in the refined marketing mix were physical handling, servicing, analysis, and fact finding.
These numerous ingredients formed the basis for modern marketing mix since they were elaborated into more details and classified into four categories. The ingredients were elaborated and categorized by Jerome McCarthy in the 1960's to become commonly known as the 4Ps concept since they include product, price, place, and promotion ("The Marketing Mix," n.d.).
Understanding the Marketing Mix:
Marketing mix can be defined as the decision from the blending of the four elements to provoke the demand for an organization's product and service. Moreover, this concept can also be described as the tactical, planned, and manageable marketing tool with four elements that are used by the company to generate reaction from the target market. Similar to another concept like a cake mix, the idea of the marketing mix is simple because the final result can be altered by changing the amounts of mix elements within it. For instance, the offer that an organization provides to its customers can be changed by altering the focus on promotion and lessening the weight given to price.
The second way of explaining or understanding the marketing mix is through the use of the image of an artist's palette. In this instance, the marketing manager or marketer mixes the main colors or elements in varying quantities to provide a specific final color. Similar to all hand painted images, every marketing mix achieved through the combination of the elements in different quantities is original in certain aspects. According to certain analysts and commentators, the marketing mix consists of five or seven elements, which include people, physical evidence, and process to the basic four elements ("What is the Marketing Mix?" n.d.).
Elements of the Marketing Mix:
As previously mentioned, the marketing mix consists of four major elements or ingredients which influence marketing decisions in many organizations. Each of these elements or ingredients is a variable that is important in creating an effective marketing strategy that attracts customers to a business. It's important for marketing managers to carefully consider the development of these elements in the marketing strategy because the success of the business is dependent on the marketing mix. Therefore, business managers determine how to use the variables or elements to accomplish the firm's profit potential. These important elements of the marketing mix are:
This element or variable refers to the goods and services that a business offers to its customers. In addition to being the physical and tangible item itself, product also include other aspects that customers are attracted to such as packaging, quality, features, brand name, warranties, services, and options. The product's appearance, support, and function are important features that constitute what the customer is really buying.
Since product bundle should satisfy the needs of a specific target market, successful managers pay careful attention to these needs during product development. In order to develop an effective marketing mix with which the developed product bundle meets the needs of customers within the target market, customer research should be conducted. The research helps in gaining knowledge about the needs of customers in the target market, the target market itself, and the existing competitors in the market. Moreover, customer research enables a business to provide a product that appeal to customers while avoiding costly mistakes.
Whether it's starting a new business or introducing a new product, a business should ensure that the product bundle is in line with its strengths and weaknesses and will offer an acceptable risk or return tradeoff (Ehmke, Fulton & Lusk, n.d.). This may sometime involve timely service in the product bundle if the business is efficient in timely response to customers. Deepening and broadening the firm's product bundle is one of the ways with which can be involved in long-term planning. Some of the major decisions to be made during this process include packaging, brand name, quality, warranty, functionality, safety, styling, accessories and services, and repairs and support.
As the second element in the marketing mix, price deals with the amount customers pay to purchase the product or service. As a significant element with a huge impact on the productivity of a business, determining the prices of products can be both tricky and frightening. For small business owners, the lowest within the market is usually their preference and is achieved through the creation of an impression of bargain pricing. However, this tends to be a sign of low quality and an unwanted part of the image to portray.
An effective pricing approach is one that reflects the suitable positioning of the product in the market which results in a price that includes cost per item and a profit margin. Neither of these aspects should be greedy or timid because one will drive the product out of the market while low pricing results in huge difficulties for the growth of a business. The development of a suitable price for a product requires managers to follow various alternative pricing strategies that may involve complex calculation methods or instant judgments.
Notably, the selection of an appropriate pricing strategy should be based on various factors like customer demand, the product or service itself, the competitive environment, and additional products or services that the business may provide. It's important to note that price is the only element in the marketing mix that generates revenues while the other variables incur costs. Some of the major pricing decisions to be made includes pricing strategy, price flexibility and discrimination, discounts, and suggested retail price. These decisions are made because pricing consist of various features like discount, allowances, and payment period (Adam, 2009).
This variable can be considered as the distribution channels that are used to get the products to customers. It can also be described as the set of activities that enable the business to spread the availability of its products and/or services to its customers. In this instance, place doesn't necessarily involve physical retail outlets but also includes online avenues like eBay and Amazon. The success and profitability of a product in the market is greatly influenced by how it's distributed in the market. The distribution of the product can be done either by selling it directly to customers or selling to a vendor.
Regardless of the selected distribution system, the main aspect behind this variable in the marketing mix is providing the right product to the right place at the right time with which customers can access it. The choice of the distribution channel depends on various circumstances that may be convenient for the business or manufacturer ("Marketing Theory," n.d.). The transportation or distribution of the product to an appropriate place where it can be easily accessed by customers is influenced by the necessary inventories to maintain.
In order to ensure that the final product is delivered at the right place at the right time for the appropriate customers may require the business to incur additional costs and needs proper evaluation. Distribution or place decisions to be made include distribution channels and centers, transportation, inventory management, order processing, market coverage, reverse logistics, particular channel members, and warehousing.
Once the product have been developed, the appropriate pricing strategy adopted, and delivered at the right place, the other important aspect that has a huge impact on the profitability of the product in the market is promotion. This element of the marketing mix basically entails the advertising and selling aspect of marketing and deals with mechanisms for informing people the product being offered. The main aim of promotion during marketing is to let people know the product, understand what they can use it for, and why they should buy it. Promotion enables an organization to inform customers that its product will satisfy their needs.