Marketing Mix and Strategies Used in Combination With 4p’

Introduction

The marketing mix has several specific targets that can all collate together. The strength of the four P’s approach is that it represents a memorable and practical framework for marketing decision-making. This can help to keep staff motivated and moving in the same direction but for too many people, it oversimplifies the reality of marketing management in the 21st century. (Farris, 2006) Such a product-based strategy can lead to a seemingly strong base product well-advertised not leading to short or long-term profitability because it is not exactly what the customer is looking for.

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In the 21st-century customer expectation has become higher than ever and with more purchasing freedom of choice than ever before the job of attracting and retaining customers has become more and more difficult. There has also been a realization that (Wilson, Gilligan 1992. P.190) ‘A 5percent increase in customer retention can result in anything from a 25per-cent to a 125per-cent boost in profitability’. A marketing strategy strong in the area of customer retention has to be given serious consideration. Relationship marketing is aimed at creating long-term customer and supplier relations. With this greater freedom of choice also comes a greater risk of making an incorrect purchase. Aaker (2007) points out that an ongoing relationship can offer customer security and a minimized purchasing risk vitally important in an ever-diversifying and often confusing marketplace. A recent study recorded in (Cravens, 2005) found that just a 5per-cent increase in customer retention at HSBC (a large banking corporation) led to a 160per-cent increase in profitability by the fifth year. This is an acute example where relationship marketing is very likely to be the best option but it must be realized that not all such relationships are profitable in the long term. Tesco’s and Dunnes Stores for example done away with their loyalty card for customers as it was costing too much to run with little tangible long-term benefits for the company. (Kotler 2002) Companies must therefore try to distinguish between profitable and non-profitable relationships as the short-term costs of creating these relationships can be quite high.

The marketing mix strategy can also have similar problems of hefty upfront costs. It is aimed at a target market which has usually been defined by market research. In-depth and accurate market research is usually costly but can be very effective. Some companies that are particularly competitive in one of the four P’s can often be very effective at attracting new customers. German supermarket chain Aldi competes mainly on low prices and this can be a key motivating factor in drawing new customers particularly in times of recession. Price can in certain markets be the key if not the only motivating factor. (Hartley, 2005).

Promotion and place can also act as strong motivators in attracting a new and larger customer base. For several years during the nineties and at the turn of the century the footwear brand Kicker’s created a branding image very popular amongst young people and particularly young males. Designed and promoted to be the must-have fashion accessory of schoolchildren and priced at the top end of the mid-range footwear market they became market leader almost overnight and dominated for several years despite a recognized lack of quality and durability in the product. (Winer, 2006) The company during this period of dominance built up strong brand loyalty and a customer relationship giving it a platform to move into also becoming a large-scale clothing brand. The characteristics and priorities of this target market are such that a marketing mix strategy with a robust promotion and place policy is likely to prove successful but it has also proven that this approach can also then be fused with a relationship marketing strategy to then develop the company’s place in the market. This is not true of every market.

The Marketing Planning process itself is essential for other reasons, namely to set objectives and strategies but also encourage internal support and commitment (Solomon, 2006), and to get a Firm or Company to jointly be focused on achieving the same end result, maximizing the benefit of working together “one for all and all for one” (Kerin, 2007).

The Marketing Plan is essentially a checklist for all knowledgeable marketers to simply re-assess but gives a varied amount of data, and supportive evidence, to help keep the decision process as simple and knowledge-based as possible, allowing each decision to be made on fact rather than fiction, or instinct (Cateora, 2007). An interesting report from the Boston Consulting Group said, “Many brands are dying. Not the natural death of absence, but the slow painful death of sales and margin erosion. The managers of these brands are not complacent – in fact, they are constantly tweaking the advertising, pricing, and costs of their brand. At the heart of the problem is a more fundamental issue: can the original promise of the brand be recreated and a new spark lit with today’s consumers? We believe it can. Most brands can be reinvented through brand renaissance”. (Smith, 2007).

Product

Product factors on the decision would begin with designing a good product that customers want to buy. This is challenging, and we know that customers do not simply buy the product; they seek benefits and are often willing to pay more for a brand that seems to solve all their (cleaning, cosmetic) problems. (Smith, 2006) Marketers can satisfy these needs by adding value to the product, with ingenious branding ideas, and packaging, and other promotional tools. A prime example is L’Oreal; the French-based Cosmetics and Personal Hair Care Company. L’Oreal knows that when it sells Shampoo and Conditioners, it sells much more than a bottle of colored or fragrant soapy fluids; it sells what the fluids CAN do for (mostly) women who use them. Using the equivalent of chat-up lines in the advertising women believe that the benefits of “shinier, healthier” hair are lasting. The opinion is, from top Hair Stylist Sam McKnight, based in London, that the cosmetics sector is such an emotionally charge marketplace, a bad hair/make-up day means an unhappy woman. This is evident. So the overall name, feel of the bottle, smell and even color have to be taking into account when deciding the ideal Product for the Market. (Kotler, 2002).

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Price

Pricing of the Product becomes another crucial decision. Set it too high and nobody buys, set it too low, and “its not worth the candle” (Mullins, 2006). The action of following the Market Leader helps newcomers follow at a discrete distance, with a price that is competitively lower. Price levels have to be adjusted in light of consumers ‘responses and competitors’ behavior.

Price is related to the Product, through the characteristics of the brand, its packaging, and overall image. People are buying into an idea, not just the substance/item. The quality also comes into question; consumers believe that there is a link between the quality of a product and the price. Consumers also question what they are getting for their money. Brand Management, customer awareness, and loyalty are directly linked to the price, therefore maintenance of the relationship between brand images, quality, and the price has to be consistent (Morden, 2004). The 1980s had a cult of “Brand Worship” and in 1988 when Swiss food-products Company Nestle bought Rowantrees, the price paid was well over $1bn for something that had actually never appeared on a balance sheet, it was the value of names in its portfolio such as Polo, Kit Kat and After Eight. This practice was not just cosmetic, it improved Companies’ ability to borrow from banks, and therefore their capacity to buy even more Brands. (Solomon, 2006) Although, there were side effects to this ‘new’ phenomenon, in 1990 sales of Perrier water were reduced heavily, due to the discovery of small quantities of benzene in samples taken from the water source. And later Nike and The Gap found themselves under fire for the conditions in overseas factories in their supply chains. (Winer, 2006).

Place

Place relates to how the Product is going to get to where the customer is when the customer wants it. Including the types of wholesale and retail outlets to be used, geographical coverage, and sales force required. There is a need for Channel Management decisions, these relate to the channels of Direct Marketing, such as direct response selling via advertising, or direct mail, etc. The channel of the SalesForce, relate to reps or another sales force, to sell directly to other companies, and what and how they should achieve gaining territory. (Lamb, 2005) The final channel is Intermediaries, which are independent companies, such as wholesalers, who buy, and resell the goods, wholesalers salesforce help reach many small customers at a low cost (Kotler, 2006). Factors, which have to be taken into account in Product decision, whilst developing the Marketing Plan, are the levels of distribution and the correct channel has been decided, best for gaining an advantage over competitors. The market exposure may range from Exclusive (Rolex) to Intensive (Smirnoff). (Kerin, 2006). The Management, having taken into account what kind of Product it is, and the Price of it will find the distribution channels easier to analyze. The channels’ performance must be regularly evaluated, against targets, and other strategies set out. Finally, Manufacturers must be sensitive to their dealers; this results in a symbiotic relationship, which in turn equals better performance in that channel. (Kotler, 2005).

Promotion

Promotion of this Product will be related to Place, or channels, if its personal selling, then the Commission Budget will be higher, if its advertising then there will be a Promotional Budget. Factors to consider when making further decisions relating to the use of Promotion, in an attempt to increase sales of Products. This may be through one-off advertising campaigns, or trade shows, or broadcasts through the media. Promotion creates awareness and stimulates interest in the product or brand. Promotion persuades people and finally sells the product. The information has to be passed to the consumer, at a clear and attainable level. Diffusion is vital, for new products. And when aiming a promotional strategy, one has to decide which sector of the market is being targeted, the early adopters, early majority, or low majority. Laggards need maybe less promotional aiming, due to the nature of their buying habits. (Silk, 2006) The Promotional mix has controllable and non-controllable methods, such as word of mouth, versus advertising. The main forms of communication are controlled, which does cost money – the non-controllable methods are free, but any form of condemnation can have a huge impact on market performance. The nature and balance of Promotion must be devised with the stages of the PLC in mind, for example, if the Product is in the early stages of existence, then it means more spend on advertising, demonstrations, literature, etc until it gets established into Maturity. (Morden, 2004) The Boston Matrix model would be of use in this situation at later stages, helping to show which, in the portfolio, is in what section of Market Growth (if any). (Hartley, 2005).

Strategies Used In Combination with 4p’s

Strategies used in the combination of the above four P’s, have come from years of testing and analyzing, and research. Models have been adopted from Economists, Marketing Professionals, and other Business ideas. The purpose of strategic planning is to find ways in which a company can use its strengths and weaknesses (SWOT) to take advantage of opportunities (Kotler, 2006). The most commonly referred is the BCG Matrix, which uses the terms of Stars to Dogs, in relation to the Product Portfolio, and the cash investment each gets section gets. One would prefer a Star, to a Dog. The reason is that the growth-share matrix divides the grid, and it is easier to identify the four main groups, and then place strategies to counteract positioning. The Ansoff Matrix also uses the idea of Product and Position in Markets, using a grid. The General Electric Gird is also a commonly used version. The matrix systems are being dropped by many companies, who are in favor of more customized approaches better suited to their own situation. (Pride, 2007).

Problems with these models are they can be difficult to use, time-consuming, and costly to implement. The main issue, with a launch of a new Product, is these models are used for classifying current businesses, but little advice for future planning. Management must rely on judgment. (McDonald, 2007).

Mercedes Benz used the Product/Market grid to help return to profits after a loss a e1bn loss in mid-1990. Mercedes decided to enter the small car market, with the A-class small family saloon. (Mason, 2001) Priorities are very different in areas such as the five-star hotel industry or the luxury car market. Quality of service is paramount and in this area, relationship marketing is especially strong. (Farris, 2006) Every guest at the Ritz has their own personal created so a preference for say a foam pillow noted in its Montreal hotel will be provided for months later in the London Ritz. Such relationship-building creates strong customer loyalty in the long term. (Aaker, 2007) Notes a cross-industry trend ‘Sales and profits per account increase the longer the relationship lasts’.

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Conclusion

In conclusion, the four P’s and Marketing Planning, and Strategy should be aware of the growing customer orientation, there is now a tendency to relate to the four C’s, Customer Value, Cost to the Customer, Convenience to the buyer and Communication, rather than the four P’s. What does this mean for Marketing Audits and Mission Statements, I believe we are entering a new stage of Marketing in the Twenty First Century, and how we approach consumers will have to be thought out longer and harder than ever before, before expecting them to part with their hard earned cash for goods and services. Holistic and gentler marketing are being seen as appealing.

References

Morden, Tony. (2004) Principles of Management. Ashgate Publishing; 2 edition.

Kotler Philip, Jain Dipak C., Maesincee Suvit (2002) Marketing Moves: A New Approach to Profits, Growth & Renewal. Harvard Business School Press; 1st edition.

Kotler Philip, Keller Kevin Lane. (2006) Marketing Management. Prentice Hall; 12 Edition.

Mason Charlotte H., Perreault William D., (2001) The Marketing Game! McGraw Hill Higher Education; 3Rev Ed.

Philip Kotler, Gary Armstrong. (2005) Principles of Marketing. Prentice Hall; 11th Edition.

Farris Paul W., Bendle Neil T., Pfeifer Phillip E., Reibstein David J. (2006) Marketing Metrics: 50+ Metrics Every Executive Should Master. Wharton School Publishing.

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Aaker David A. (2007) Strategic Market Management. Wiley; 8 Edition.

Cravens David W., Piercy Nigel (2005) Strategic Marketing (Mcgraw Hill/Irwin Series in Marketing). McGraw-Hill/Irwin; 8 edition.

Hartley Robert F. (2005) Marketing Mistakes and Successes. Wiley; 10th Edition.

Solomon, Michael, Marshall Greg. (2006) Marketing: Real People, Real Choices. Prentice Hall; 5th edition.

Kerin Roger A. (2007) Marketing: The Core. Irwin/McGraw-Hill.

Cateora Philip, John Graham. (2007) International Marketing. McGraw-Hill/Irwin; 13th Edition.

Smith C., Alexander Hiam. (2006) Marketing for Dummies. John Wiley and Sons Ltd.

Mullins John, Walker Orville C. (2006) Marketing Management: A Strategic Decision-Making Approach. McGraw-Hill/Irwin; 6th Edition.

Winer Russ. (2006) Marketing Management. Prentice Hall; 3rd Edition.

Lamb Charles W., Hair Joseph F. (2005) Essentials of Marketing. South-Western College Pub; 5th Edition.

Kerin Roger, Peterson Robert. (2006) Strategic Marketing Problems: Cases and Comments. Prentice Hall; 11th Edition.

Silk Alvin J. (2006) What Is Marketing? Harvard Business School Press.

Pride William M., Ferrell O. C. (2007) Marketing. Houghton Mifflin Company; 14th Edition.

McDonald Malcolm. (2007) Marketing Plans, Sixth Edition: How to prepare them, how to use them. Butterworth-Heinemann; 6th Edition.

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