In marketers. The concept of marketing mix is considered

In the last decade, there has been an ongoing debate on the legitimacy
of the traditional marketing mix. Though it is undisputable that the 4Ps marketing
mix is a milestone of marketing theory, globalization and the evolution of technology
created new business contexts that highlight some of the limits of this
framework. Service businesses and e-commerce are prime example pf business
contexts that require new marketing paradigms. Today, researchers and marketers
can be separated into two groups: the conservatives, who believe that the
traditional marketing mix is capable to comply to the new business demands by
adding new Ps, and the revisionists, who think that the 4Ps are outdated and
should be replaced by a new marketing theory. This leads us to ask the
following: To what extent is the traditional marketing mix relevant/irrelevant
for today’s marketers. The purpose of this paper is to try to answer this
question by assessing the limits of the Marketing Mix, and to see how this
framework adapts to the evolving trends in business and to the environmental
changes.

 

The Marketing Mix that we know of today was first introduced
around 1960. It origins from Neil Borden’s twelve marketing elements, which he
first introduced during his American Marketing Association presidential speech
in 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 accepted
by most marketers and academics and taught to most business students. Indeed, a
study carried out among 550 European companies, revealed that 70% of them use
this marketing paradigm. The strong adoption can be explained on the basis of
its simplicity of use and understanding which makes it an easy and useful
theory for all marketers. The concept of marketing mix is considered as a
cluster of “ingredients” that marketers may leverage to satisfy market need so
that profit is optimized. While the success of this Mix is undoubtable, there
is no evidence on the role and contribution of the 4Ps to the success of these business
companies. As a result, some academics express their doubts and reject the 4Ps Mix.

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The main criticisms this marketing theory has faced are the lack of marketing
relationship and the exclusion of services and e-commerce from the mix. The
conservatives agree that, with the expansion of digital technologies, new
functionalities should be added, however these functionalities would be
considered as new categories within the existing mix. They believe that the mix
should not be completely removed as it still is capable to adapt to the new
needs in most part. Among the new functionalities that should be added to each
of the 4Ps, here are the most coveted.

Concerning product, this mix should highlight the benefits
that a customer gains once he purchases a product. As a customer, products and
services are seen as a solution to a problem. This is the main benefit a
customer looks at when buying a product or service. However, in addition to
this aspect, marketers believe that firms should offer along their product, a
strong emotional element to create a bond that will ensure long-lasting
customers. In this sense, companies would not only sell a product, but a whole
experience that would elevate the purchase procedure. The application of this
definition has never been easier thanks to the Internet. This virtual interface
enables firm to implement digital customer relationship management that focus
solely on creating a bond with the customers. In addition, customers can gather
all the information about the product without having any expense.

Moving on to the next P: Price. Price should take into
consideration the value customers attribute to a product or service. When
considering a marketing strategy, marketers should not only focus on the price
of the product or service, they should also take into account the total cost of
the consumer, including opportunity cost and the value of the product to the
client. This new articulation of price highlights what the customer is giving
up his balance for. For example, a customer shopping at Bond Street (luxurious
street in London) will feel special. A good purchase procedure or a good
customer service is another example of an intangible aspect that can increase value
for a customer. Once again relationship marketing is highlighted.

Transition

Place should be defined nowadays as all that is done to make
sure the purchase and distribution of the product or service work impeccably for
the customer. In our modern society, the consumer’s choice is driven by
convenience. This is the result of rapid technological advances that enable
customers to purchase and receive a product or service with the click of a
button. Customers don’t want to put in any substantial effort when purchasing
any goods or services. They want convenience. This ease of doing business
pushes firms to adapt marketing strategies that develop methods that best work
for customers to ensure their loyalty.

Finally, the last P – Promotion. Promotion should translate
into all of the information that is received by the customer. In the 21st
Century, the Internet has become one of the most common tool of mass
communication. Contrarily to TV ads and billboards, Internet ads are tailored
to 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 high
informative awareness. Thus, the customer feels relaxed, confident and aware
when visioning and ad. This increases the likelihood of a purchase. All these
characteristics should be considered when promoting a product. Of course, these
marketing strategies do not fit all business contexts.

In response to these new requirements, conservative have developed
new marketing mix in the goal to adapt to the new business trends. Among the
many marketing theories, here are the most … First, Booms’ and Bitner’s 7Ps.

This Marketing mix, similarly to all marketing theories in this list, kept the
original 4ps and added physical evidence, process and people. This new model
aims at trying to improve customer relationship and retention. It is for this
reason it has been strongly linked with service marketing. However, this model
is not limited to such business models. Marketers of all types of business
could benefit from the 7Ps. Nowadays, no matter the business structure, there
is some service element to it that would use the model.

Chen’s 8Ps model is another model that bases its marketing
theory around the traditional 4Ps. In addition to McCarthy’s Mix, Chen adds
precision, payment, personalization and push and pull. This model tries to
adapt to the new digital world we live in. In this mix, precision refers to
precise segment targeting thanks to the internet database that provides us with
the preferences of the consumer. Payment designated a safe and easy remittance
procedure for customers. Personalization suggests a smooth platform where
customers can buy with no substantial efforts. And finally, Push and Pull
concerns .

While these models still hold as their core elements the
traditional mix, other authors (the revisionists) propose a radical
reconceptualization of the Mix. We notice that the main shortcomings of the 4Ps
involve customer retention. Indeed, when this marketing framework was first
introduced, firms focused on mass marketing, thus neglecting the importance of
customer relationship. However, nowadays, with the new technological advances,
the modern customer has gained more power due to the availability of free information
and the easy access to networks and databases. The contemporary customer has
become more demanding then in the past. As a result, marketing strategies shifted
from product-oriented to a customer-oriented. This shift has also been noticed
in the Business-to Business context. Strong relationships between sellers and
buyers are very important factors in the success of an industrial business. In
contrast to the mass-oriented character of the traditional mix, strong and
long-term relationships is the main focus of industrial sellers. Another key
instrument for sellers to ensure future profits is trust. This entails that
both parties trust the others’ expertise to deliver on their promise. As
Moorman et al. say, trust is the “willingness to rely on an exchange partner in
whom one has confidence”, thus the success in Business to Business Marketing is
based on the quality of the interdependence between firms. The importance of
customer relationship can be easily expanded to other business context. Service
marketing is an example. The traditional mix considers the buyer as a passive agent
and rejects one-to-one relationship between the provider and the consumer. Of
course, this perception of marketing does not correspond to service marketing. The
interaction between the seller and the consumer is very important in this
business context. It has a direct effect on the valuation of the product by the
consumer. This is why the concept of relationship marketing is praised by most
service marketers. Service marketers define marketing as the action to “establish,
maintain and enhance relationships with customers and other partners, at a
profit, so that the objectives of the parties involved are met. This is
achieved by a mutual exchange and fulfilment of promises”. In this definition,
an important element in relationship marketing is promise. Marketers should not
only give promises in the goal to attract customers, they should make sure these
promises are kept to ensure long-lasting relationships. This human element, key
to the success of services, is what the traditional mix is lacking. The human factor
plays an important role in the persuasion of the customer. It elevates the perception
of the product. Another business context that focuses on relationship marketing
is the e-commerce. Following the commercialization of the Internet, more and
more online businesses emerged known as

e-commerce. In order to succeed, such business model
requires a very smooth and clear interface accompanied with good customer
service, which is operational internationally 24/7. These requirements do not
comply with the internally oriented traditional mix. Indeed, looking at the
characteristics of a successful e-commerce marketing strategies, the 4P
marketing mix seems inadequate. The lack of interactivity urges a move away
from the outdated framework.

The final business structure that this paper will cover is
the retail business. In the past, when mass marketing was at its peak, it the
producers would implement internally oriented marketing strategies in the goal of
increasing brand recognition, while retailers were charged with simply
functions such as stocking the shelves. However, nowadays there has been a
radical switch in the roles. Nowadays, retailers are adopting marketing
approaches that engages with the customer and ensure his experience is
memorable.

There has been a wide variety of new marketing theories that
tried to take the criticism of the 4Ps into consideration in the quest to create
a complete Marketing theory. Lauterborn developed the 4Cs with place becoming
convenience, product becoming customer value, price becoming customer cost and
promotion becoming customer communication. The shift from P to C highlights the
new focus on customer rather than product. Beamish and Ashford proposed the 7Cs
mix, with, in addition to Lauterbon’s 4Cs mix, coordination, consideration and
confirmation. Dev and Schultz suggested a completely different model: The SIVA
mix. The SIVA replaces product with solution, promotion with information, price
with value and place with access.

 

The traditional marketing mix was introduced in the 1960, a
period where mass production was at its peak. Firms would establish internally
oriented strategies and focus on offering few products and follow an economy of
scale in the goal to maximize profit. Today, with the technological advances, the
4Ps mix has become outdated. Two limitation explains the inefficiency of this
mix. First, the lack of explicit market input. Since its strategy is internally
oriented, this means it give very little attention to the customer. As a
result, 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 very
common. 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, marketers
and academics are trying to identify a marketing mix that would substitute the traditional
mix. We notice two distinct group of marketers: the conservatives and the
revisionist. 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 this
day, there hasn’t been a mix that is as effective as the traditional mix was
during the 60’s.

Having said this, the basics of the 4Ps are still valid to
some extent nowadays. However, I personally believe, that a marketing theory
cannot be defined by a list. Such structure can never cover all the different
business contexts. This is why we see throughout the years new Ps added to the
original because a new business structure has been discovered.