In 1948 James Culliton described the role of a Marketing Manager as “a mixer of ingredients.” He further elaborated “One who sometimes follows recipes from others; sometimes he prepares his own recipe as he goes along; sometimes he adapts a recipe from immediately available ingredients and at times invents new ingredients no one else has tried.” In later years his associate Neil Borden wrote an article on a similar topic and coined the phrase “Marketing Mix” to describe “the set of actions, or tactics, that a company uses to promote its brand or product in the market.”
The Economic Times
Today the Marketing Mix is a household name for businesses wishing to maximise the impact of a given product or service on effectively meeting consumers needs. So, what are we really talking about here? And why is the marketing mix so important?
WHAT IS THE MARKETING MIX?
Imagine you have a blender. It’s not a particularly special blender but it’s practical, well made and gets the job done. You like to use your blender to mix cocktails for friends and relatives. Although cocktails tend to be made up of a mix of beverages, mixers, wines and spirits the ones selected will vary according to preferences of the recipient. Additionally, cost would also come into play when deciding which champagne or spirit to use and you would also need to consider what was available at the time. Other things to take into account would be how you would like to present the cocktail to appeal to the person drinking it and how you will pitch the benefits of your refreshment to the individual.
This is also how you can introduce your product to your chosen market. The cocktail can be tweaked to satisfy the taste buds of your friend or in real terms, adjustments can be made to your product or service to best solve a consumer’s problem or to fill a need. How much you charge for your product or service will need to be decided, as will the way in which it is packaged (or presented) and made available to the customer. The method of making the target market aware of your brand and persuading them to try it will also need addressing. All these factors are noted, weighed up and given attention according to their individual need. The Marketing Mix will enable you to do this.
WHY IS THE MARKETING MIX IMPORTANT?
The Marketing Mix can help a business in several ways:
- It helps to create a clean mix for a product; i.e.; all factors involving its entry onto the market are intrinsically linked and compatible.
- It generates product development for the business. The design process of an existing product will identify ideas for a related product.
- It increases the product portfolio. All products and services have a life cycle, so it is imperative to keep adding to the product depth (the number of varieties of a product type), the product line (the complete range of products) or the product length (the total number of items in a product line).
- It guides a business to make improvements.
- It helps to differentiate a brand from competitors.
- It enables a business to become dynamic. In times of market recession, the business can respond quickly and effectively if all the components are fully understood and monitored.
The components making up a business can be categorised into broad areas, each requiring a level of marketing decision. What are these areas?
WHAT ARE THE 4 P’S AND HOW DO THEY RELATE TO THE MARKETING MIX?
By identifying specific customer needs a business can adjust its features to attract, educate and persuade a target market. There are four main features called the 4 P’s or PRODUCT, PRICE, PLACE and PROMOTION. Sometimes businesses make an addition of 3 further P’s; PEOPLE, PHYSICAL EVIDENCE and PROCESS, although the first four are the main focus. These features, four or seven of them, make up the marketing mix. What do each of these features mean?
PRODUCT: What is your company going to produce?
This area includes design, technology, perceived usefulness, convenience of use, quality, packaging, brand utility, accessories and warranties.
What to ask regarding your product?
- What does the consumer need or want from it?
- How important is the product to the customer?
- What product features fill that need or want?
- How and where will it be used?
- What will it be called?
- What sizes and colours should it come in?
- How is it branded?
- How is it different to the competitors?
PRICE: How much will your product or service cost?
When setting the price for your brand other considerations are skimming, penetration, value basing, cost plans and cost leadership.
What to ask regarding the price?
- What is the value of the product or service to the customer?
- Are there established price points in the area?
- Is the customer price sensitive?
- What discount should be offered to trade customers?
- How does the price compare to the competitors?
PLACE: How will you get it to the customer?
Choices in this field include retail, wholesale, mail order, Internet, direct sales, peer to peer and multi-channels.
What to ask regarding place?
- How will you make your product or service available to the customer?
- Where do your customers need to look for your product?
- What kind of store could be used?
- How can you access the right distribution channels?
- Do you need a sales force?
- What can you learn from your competitors? Do you need to differentiate from that?
PROMOTION: How do you educate your customers about your product or service?
Marketing tools include special offers, advertising, endorsements, user trials, campaigns and joint ventures.
What to ask regarding promotion?
- When and where can you get messages across to the target market?
- Which advertising media will be most effective? Traditional, online or face to face?
- How to schedule the promotional activity for greatest impact?
- How does the competition promote and what can you learn from this?
The overall marketing mix will always be based on thorough research of your chosen market and will become the marketing strategy of the business.
HOW TO USE THE MARKETING MIX?
There is no single, one-fit mix that continually works for all businesses. Instead the combination of 4 P’s depends on the size of the business, the competition, the nature of the product and its objectives. The marketing team guided by directors and CEO’s would contribute to the overall plan, identifying the main areas for focus. There is no one element of the marketing mix that is more important than another as all the elements support each other and businesses will want to modify each of these to create a brand image and USP (unique selling point) that makes their product or service stand out from the rest.
As trends in the market place change and new technologies arise the way in which a product affects the customers will alter over time necessitating adjustments in the marketing mix to compensate.
HOW TO ADJUST THE MARKETING MIX?
All goods and services have a limited life cycle, but this can be prolonged by carefully monitoring environmental developments and changes in customer spending. In line with this, the elements of the marketing mix can be adapted independently or altogether to take account of each stage in the cycle. For example; a tired brand can be given a new lease of life just by changing the packaging or distributing through different channels without the need for an expensive marketing campaign.
The marketing team need to be proactive in reacting to changes in the market place and over time in ensuring elements of the mix are customised for the target market. How the commercial world has changed is evidenced by the emphasis on certain mix elements. Once upon a time the focus was on promoting goods and services and it followed that those businesses with the largest marketing budget automatically became the market leaders. Today there has been a shift back to product development, providing what the customer wants and coming up with variations on a theme to fill an identified gap.
Essentially the marketing mix should achieve four criteria:
- Match customer needs and go one better than competitors
- Create competitive advantage
- Be in keeping with the product theme e.g. high quality, high price.
- Match corporate resources where there may be constraints in finances or limits to personnel skills.
If it is done correctly the marketing mix will help your customers understand why your product or service is better than those of your competitors and will be deemed a success if it meets the marketing objectives.
EXAMPLES OF SUCCESSFUL MARKETING MIX
Getting the mix right depends a lot on following the guidelines and trial and error. However, we can look to those brands that seem to have nailed it in their respective industries.
These guys are ahead of the game in that their product naturally promotes itself on global media platforms such as YouTube, Twitter or Vine. Any video uploaded by a customer could go viral at any time. But this is not their only strength. They are great at engaging key markets and encouraging user-generated content, whilst maintaining strong visible branding across all products,
This ‘no frills’ airline builds on its competitive advantage by developing strong market positions in principal European airports. Passengers use these hubs regularly and so provide the volume required to ensure planes fly at full or near capacity. This structural cost advantage enables the company to offer competitive rates on these routes.
Their greatest success came from allowing customers free trials of the products, encouraging them to buy. They also created their own culture of conversation in which they got everyone talking about them!
This producer of cosmetics diversified its product portfolio into men as well as women and targeted all ages. Their distribution costs were kept to a minimum by creating a centralised distribution point served by numerous production plants. Direct contact with retailers is avoided by taking on the help of wholesalers and the company has also benefited from some punchy advertising campaigns and high brand visibility in the blue and white packaging.
Your business may not be in the same league, but the mix of elements also apply to smaller operations and can help them to succeed. A good marketer does his research and gets to know his customers well. He identifies the right product, puts it in the right place, chooses the right price and reveals it to the market at the right time. You could say he is a great mixer of marketing elements.
Roller Banners is unable to help with every aspect of the marketing mix but would be more than happy to assist with your advertising print, direct marketing leaflets or exhibition display stands. Call today on (02380) 700111.