Every marketing professional should know the tastes and needs of their target customers. The United Kingdom (UK) consumers are known to be loyal to their favorite firms and brands, which guarantee to ship their products for free and offer product returns. As in many other countries, consumers prefer to buy products both online and in brick-and-mortar stores in the UK. When companies are aware of their potential customers’ preferences, they can effectively use this knowledge to promote their businesses in the UK.
There are many marketing strategies, but each of them has the same goal – to promote the company’s products and services by increasing the satisfaction of customers. Nowadays, marketing mix is one of the most important and currently used marketing strategies in the UK and other countries. First, it consisted of one feature, but now, it consists of many elements. Marketing mix can be defined as the most important marketing term, the operational part of marketing, also known as the 4Ps (Price, Place, Product, and Promotion) (Thabit and Raewf, 2018, p. 100). This paper will analyze each of the 4Ps elements based on the examples of current activities of the UK-based organizations and firms.
The primary component of the marketing mix is a product, which refers to goods and services. According to Thabit and Raewf (2018), “the product can be known as a pack of advantages which a marketer presents to the customer for a price” (p. 103). Product is the main element of the marketing mix, as well as the first thing a company needs to start a business. Moreover, product decisions are the first and most important decisions an organization has to take before developing a marketing plan. Some things important for this category are the product’s design, packaging, quality and safety, and the variety of goods the company offers to its customers. The company’s success depends on the choice of products it aims to sell to its consumers. This constituent of the marketing mix can be reviewed based on the example of the current activities of Unilever – a British-Dutch company with a long history.
Unilever produces a wide variety of products of different sizes and types. The most known products and services of Unilever are Dove, Lux, Knorr, Fair & Lovely, Pure it, Colgate, Surf Excel, Rexona, Lipton, and many others (Reza, 2020, p.685). One can subdivide these products into the following subcategories: food, beverages and ice cream (refreshment category), personal care, and home care.
The secret of Unilever’s success is in its focus on the products the customers want and need. One can see that all groups of products are those goods people consume every day. For example, Knorr sauces and stock cubes are popular among men and women who like to save time on cooking complex meals and prefer quick and tasty dishes. Such refreshment products as Heartbrand ice creams and Lipton teas are known worldwide. The personal care category includes Colgate toothpaste and Dove soap and shampoo. Surf Excel detergent and Sun dishwasher are sold under the home care category. All these products demonstrate that Unilever has a diversified marketing mix.
Each of the product subcategories mentioned above brings a strong turnover to the company. Thus, the personal care category brings more than €20 billion turnovers, and more than a half of the operating profit is accounted to such brands as Axe, Dove, Clear, Tresemmé, Rexona, and some other well-known brands (Unilever Annual Report and Accounts, 2019, p. 3). Foods and refreshments make up more than €19 billion turnovers, and home care products bring more than €10 billion (Unilever Annual Report and Accounts, 2019, p. 3). Most of its brands are known internationally, and the most famous brands have the highest sales.
The customers of Unilever are of different ages, incomes, and needs. The age range for personal and home care segments is 14-50 years old, and the income starts from medium to high (Reza, 2020, p. 685). The food segment is aimed at consumers aged five years old and older, with preferences for healthy and tasty products (Reza, 2020). Such diversification is a result of the company’s mergers and acquisitions (M&A) strategy. Unilever was created as a merger of a Dutch margarine manufacturer and a British chemical enterprise (Nazarova, 2015, p. 42).
Since its origin, the company has successfully utilized mergers and acquisitions in the customer goods market. Thus, Unilever obtains and sells goods and brands all around the globe. From 1995 to 2009, the company had at its command “210 disposals and 250 acquisitions” (Nazarova, 2015, p. 42). Currently, Unilever represents more than 400 brands and sells them to more than 190 countries (Nazarova, 2015). In such a way, the company’s organizational structure can be characterized by the diversity of customer goods in the product mix.
The price is another chief element of the marketing mix strategy. Price can be defined as “the amount paid for acquiring any product or service” (Olajide, Lizamand, and Olajide, 2016, p. 55). One can measure the price in numerical terms, and it is the same for all consumers. Price is estimated and determined through the price policy, and it is ascertained through the perspective of customers.
The fluctuations in the market may cause either an increase or a decrease in the price. It is not easy to preserve a price of a product or service in a competitive market. Many factors influence the product’s price: the demand, cost, the company’s solvency and the customers’ ability to pay, state restrictions, the prices on competitors’ comparable goods and services, and other factors (Thabit & Raewf, 2018, p. 103). Different businesses utilize diverse pricing strategies in consumer and business markets.
Such a marketing mix element as the price will be analyzed based on the example of Tesco. Tesco is one of the biggest retailers in the world, with its largest sales and operations made in the UK (Dudovskiy, 2016). By the end of 2015, Tesco had “7817 stores in 11 countries” (Dudovskiy, 2016). The company’s pricing strategy is cost leadership, which means that it sets the prices, and other companies match these prices to remain competitive (Farm, 2020, p. 67). Thus, Tesco has a wide range of high-quality products for the lowest prices. The company uses economies of scale to maintain low prices. According to Rodriguez-Villalobos, Garcia-Martinez, and Mata-Camarena (2018), economies of scale exist when an increase in production leads to a proportional reduction of costs (p. 2). As a result, the larger quantities of goods the company sells, the lower its prices for these products become.
Moreover, Tesco tries to preserve the best procurement channels to buy products for the lowest prices. The company is constantly working with its suppliers to advance the supply chain and make it more efficient. The company’s main purpose is to provide stable low prices to its consumers. Tesco bases its pricing strategy on the following marketing message: “Every Little Helps” (Dudovskiy, 2016). In such a way, low prices become the main brand value of the retail company.
At the same time, Tesco is facing keen competition with other retailers in the UK market. For instance, such low-priced retail stores as Aldi and Lidl are the main rivals influencing the company’s pricing strategy. For example, Tesco launched a new price war against other UK-based discounts to deal with the recession caused by the current COVID-19 pandemic (Quinn, 2020). The new marketing message of the company is “Great Prices Every Day” (Quinn, 2020). In this price war, Tesco aims to match Aldi’s prices but preserve Clubcard Prices as the main advantage against its competitors (Quinn, 2020).
The company eliminates all its promotion activities to save costs and maintain the lowest possible retail prices. Moreover, Tesco has already launched Aldi Price Match to match its product to the lowest prices Aldi offers (Quinn, 2020). The main advantage of Tesco over Aldi is a wide range of branded products and Tesco’s own products. Thus, if Tesco’s prices are as low as Aldi’s, the company will be likely to attract more new customers.
The place is another essential element of the marketing mix strategy. All products and goods are produced in one place, and sold to the customers in other places, and it is important to choose the most suitable place for all. In a marketing mix, a place can be defined as “the process and methods by which products or services reach customers” (Išoriatė, 2016, p. 31). The place consists of different elements, including distribution channels, location, warehousing accommodations, logistics, convergence, product range, method of transportation, and inventory control management (Badi, 2018, pp. 3-4). The distribution channels are the most important elements of this category since they help deliver the products or services to the consumers and promote and sell them to all other final buyers.
The place and distribution in Unilever’s marketing mix will be analyzed further. Thus, Unilever uses retailers, stores, and wholesalers to sell its products worldwide (Ghana and Antra, 2016, p. 10). Other distribution channels are cash-and-carry, hypermarkets, supermarkets, kiosks, and online shops. Currently, the company cooperates with 25 million retail sales outlets worldwide (Helping SME Retailers Grow, 2021). The main focus of the company is on building local roots in the developing spheres. One of Unilever’s retailers is Walmart, which sells its products through subsidiaries and local stores (Ghana and Antra, 2016, p. 10). All these distribution channels play an important role in Unilever’s marketing mix.
Moreover, Unilever utilizes an innovative approach to distribution in rural areas. According to Mahajan (2016), Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) was the first who began to train local women as “rural sales agents who sell Unilever products door to door in their communities.” In 2015, the company introduced 70,000 agents who could serve 165,000 Indian villages (Mahajan, 2016). HUL provided those women with smartphone apps to work with the stock, inventory, and other parts of the business. In such a way, the company managed to promote and distribute its goods in Vietnam, Bangladesh, Egypt, Sri Lanka, and other countries (Mahajan, 2016). One can see that Unilever’s initiative to train rural sales agents helped it achieve success in emerging markets.
Similarly, Unilever trained women in other countries to develop new distribution channels. For example, women in Pakistan villages were trained as beauticians who could work out of the home (Mahajan, 2016). Within three months, these women learned to apply makeup and provide various beauty services, using Unilever cosmetics and personal care products and selling them to clients. In the Philippines, the company created distribution points and provided local retailers with motorized tricycles to deliver their goods to rural areas (Mahajan, 2016). In Thailand, the Platinum store initiative was launched to attract rural customers who wanted to experience urban shopping (Mahajan, 2016). All these initiatives demonstrate that Unilever has a strong distribution strategy and aims to cover even the most distant areas. At the same time, all these distribution channels require additional costs and time, which may lead to the necessity to increase prices.
In addition to the distribution modes mentioned above, Unilever uses kiosks to introduce customers to its products directly. In such booths, the company promotes a limited choice of goods. Moreover, in some kiosks, people can refill their shampoo containers or bring their old containers and sachets for up-cycling (Venus, 2019). For example, in the Philippines, such refilling stations are called “All Things Hair Refillery,” and they offer the customers such products as Tresemmé, Dove, Sunsilk, and Cream Silk (Venus, 2019). This strategy keeps up with the company’s sustainability plan and agrees with its product growth and distribution plan.
The last but not least important constituent of the marketing mix is promotion. Promotion plays an important role in marketing since it helps increase sales and make the products and services known in different countries. Promotion can be defined as a tool “that helps disseminate information, encourage the purchase and affects the purchase decision process” (Išoraite, 2016, p. 33). This marketing mix element involves sponsorship, advertising, sale promotion, private sale, public relations, and direct marketing (Išoraite, 2016). Each of these components will be briefly discussed further.
Sponsorship is an element that helps convince customers to buy products. Sponsorship can be made with the help of discounts, coupons, bonuses, awards, samples, product testing and demonstration (Išoraite, 2016). Advertising is one of the most widely used promotion tools, and it promotes the company’s sets of ideas to make the consumers buy their goods and services. Sales promotion offers short-term price reductions, special offers, bonuses, or awards. Private sale is aimed at selling products through personal communication. Public relations between an organization and society help enhance the company’s credibility and increase public interest. Direct marketing involves the communication between a manufacturer and a potential client. All these methods are used in marketing to promote products.
Vodafone is one of the biggest telecommunication service providers in the world, with its head office in the UK. The company serves more than 460 million customers globally (Mahmud and Medina, 2018, p. 8). For Vodafone, it is of high importance to use promotion and advertising strategies to sell its services and products. The company advertises its products using television, billboards, print media, and other traditional methods. For example, British Vodafone offers their customers free trials on Netflix and HBO to attract more active users (Mahmud and Medina, 2018, p. 11). In such a way, it promotes its services through sponsorship. The company associates its brand image with different celebrities and sports stars, thus increasing its value and encouraging customers to buy its products. However, the most widely used promotion strategy of Vodafone is online advertising.
Since Vodafone is a telecom service provider, international online marketing strategies are the most efficient promotion strategies. According to Mahmud and Medina (2018), 51% of the global population currently uses smartphones, so online advertising is the fastest and most cost-efficient method to grab the customers’ attention (p. 25). For example, Vodafone has launched the largest advertising campaign this year, and it is aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises. The campaign is called “Together We Can,” and it demonstrates the role of digital technologies in supporting small business communities (Vodafone ‘Together We Can’, 2021). This new commercial allows the company to build a new global brand image and shows how digital technologies can make human lives better in the future. Through this campaign, Vodafone communicates with its customers and establishes good relationships with them.
Vodafone promotes its products and services through innovative incentives and undertakings. For instance, the most remote parts of the UK receive 4G Gigabit networks on mobile (Vodafone Unveils ‘Together We Can’, 2021). The Vodafone DreamLab app contributes to the world’s fight against COVID-19 and cancer, thus attracting more customers (Vodafone Unveils, 2021). Moreover, the My Vodafone app and Vodafone Cash play an important role in the company’s branding.
However, the strongest point of Vodafone’s promotion strategy is the ZooZoo campaign. Zoozoos are advertisement characters, “white creatures with ballooned bodies and egg heads who are used to promote various value-added services” (Roy and Das, 2012, p. 150). Although this campaign was introduced more than ten years ago, it became Vodafone’s most successful advertising campaign. Nowadays, Zoozoos are still loved and admired by social media users, and these advertisements often appear on various social networking websites. At the same time, the ZooZoo campaign was not as effective in rural areas because some of its messages were difficult to grasp (Roy and Das, 2012, p. 153). Despite this weakness, the ZooZoo campaign is now strongly associated with the Vodafone brand, which means that their online promotion was successful.
A marketing mix is a collection of activities and decisions that help organizations achieve their goals and satisfy their customers’ needs. The key constituents of the marketing mix are product, price, place, and promotion. UK-based firms utilize each of these components in their current marketing activities. Some companies focus more on low prices, special offers, discounts, and sponsorship, like Tesco. The others offer a wide range of products and services at low and high prices, like Unilever.
Some companies emphasize the importance of promotions, like Vodafone. The setting is also important in marketing, and firms utilize this element effectively. Some companies locate their businesses in urban areas, while others aim to attract customers from rural areas. Although different companies put the strongest emphasis on one or two elements of the marketing mix, a smart combination of all components is the best marketing strategy for many modern firms and organizations. To conclude, the marketing mix differs from one company to another and depends on its resources, needs, and goals.
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