Marketing is a spontaneous change of strategies because of new inventions and ideas every day. It is a race of who can produce a good quality product and also attain a good number of consumers. The concept of 4Ps has been criticised as being a production-oriented definition of marketing, and not a customer-oriented (Popovic, 2006). Consumers are no longer merely passive recipients in the marketing exchange process. Today, they are taking an increasingly active role in co-creating everything from product design to promotional messages (Berthon, Pitt, McCarthy and Kates, 2007). As recently as two decades ago most manufacturers of consumer products considered communication with the final customer as one of their essential marketing tasks (Constantinides, 2006). 4p’s do not offer help for personification of marketing activities. The mix does not mention relationship building which has become a major marketing focus, or the experiences that consumers buy (Goi, 2009).
The relevance of Four P’s in today’s world is incredulous. It was originally developed for consumer packaged goods marketing where Transaction-style marketing also known as traditional marketing was the most appropriate (Grönroos, 1997) as communications in that time was very poor and packaged goods did not require services or a one-to-one interaction with the servicemen or employees. But the present-day markets compelling the firms to form a Relation-based link with the customers is of sheer-contrast to the traditional Four P’s which was based on one-transaction at a time. The definition of Relationship marketing given by Xavier Vence Deza, an economist in 2002 is that “Relationship marketing aims at creating a client relationship from the start to satisfy and retain existing customers, while transactional marketing tries to make the sale and find new customers.” Four P’s do not take sufficient account in building a long-term relationship between industrial buyer and seller (Zineldin and Philipson, 2007) which has very little reliability in the present times.With the increasing number of firms in the market and the sky-rocketing level of competition, it is very necessary for every firm to sustain their customers and place. One can say that service-type relationship with the customers has a greater and better impact on them as they pay more emphasis on satisfying customers, preventing defections and building long-term relationships (Webster, 1994).
The marketing mix was first ever introduced by Neil Borden in 1949. According to him, “When building a marketing program to fit the needs of his firm, the marketing manager has to weigh the behavioural forces and then juggle marketing elements in his mix with a keen eye on the resources with which he has to work” (Borden, 1964). But the Four P’s of marketing namely- Product, Price, Promotion, and Placement were given by E. Jerome McCarthy in 1971. Many different other theories were introduced after this in the last few decades due to the diminishing applicability in the recent markets. It was suggested that the initial marketing mix elements are variables which can be changed differently in separate situations according to the firm’s creativity (Zineldin and Philipson, 2007) and form strategies to gain a better audience and generate a bigger profit. Bernard Booms and Mary Bitner built a model consisting of Seven P’s 1981. This model holds a greater pertinence with today’s marketing scenario as it includes human and service elements as their variables. Raising the levels of overall customer satisfaction has to with an addition or improvement in the service elements and all of this is directly proportional to greater profits. A segment that has recently come in limelight but has become one of the key elements in boosting customer satisfaction is ‘Personalisation’ (Goldsmith, 1999) also giving rise to the Eight P’s of marketing.
Since the last couple of decades, the marketing scheme has in a way propelled the firms to focus on small target groups to fulfil their personal demands. Nowadays a lot of shops and boutiques have started providing ‘Custom-made’ services to its customers. Each customer here is treated as an individual rather than as a member of a target segment as companies work to fulfil their specific needs and deliver a customised product (Hof, 1998) because this increases customer satisfaction and as mentioned earlier, this, in turn, increases profit. The Internet has played a huge role in promoting ‘Personalisation’ where customers are targeted in a framework of individual relationships on platforms such as ‘Online shopping’. A survey shows that the shoppers made 51% of their purchases online in 2016 compared to 48% in 2015 and 47% in 2014 (Farber, 2016). This clearly conveys that the total number of people shopping for goods online has tremendously increased over the years, which again disregards the use of the traditional model of marketing, the 4P’s in today’s span of time as it’s vital elements like ‘Placement’ and ‘Promotion’ become fairly irrelevant. It is interesting to note that ‘Personalisation’ leads to a completely distinct positioning of the companies into extremely dissimilar frameworks which separates it from its competitors. In fact, brands also begin to symbolically represent different personalities and lifestyles (Goldsmith, 1999).
Connectivity, technology, and interaction with the audience and potential customers go hand in hand and help influence current and potential customers (Hanna, Rohm, Crittenden, 2011). Customers nowadays get to know more about their products sales and discounts by emails and messages. A new trick picked up by various brands to interact with customers is with the help of subscriptions. This is a recent style of relationship marketing as these brands send their customers regular emails based on the products they purchased in the past. They also accumulate user information that may be valuable for targeted marketing purposes (Trusov, Bucklin and Pauwels, 2008). This is how they inform the potential buyers about exclusive deals and new releases. A report published by Texas Tech University found that brands with active social media profiles have more loyal customers than the brands who are not that active (Contentfac.com, 2015). One can claim that this is a result of the brand awareness that is created by the brand as they are able to reach out to a bigger group of people. Never has the power of social media been of more importance than now for marketing. The pros of social media marketing are raising brand consciousness, creating a brand identity and positive brand association and these can be achieved by improving communication and interaction with key audiences (WordStream, n.d.). Through the means of social media marketing, the news of a product reaches to a wide audience than it would have ever through the traditional means of ‘word of mouth’ marketing. The word of mouth marketing was is effective in promoting a product but only for a specific group like communities or a certain age group.
Another major example where the use of 4P’s of marketing is contentious is the platform of ‘Virtual Shopping’ or more commonly known as ‘Online Shopping’ (Celine, 2013).
Companies are cutting costs for staying competitive in the market. One of the most advantageous outcome is that customers have a very wide range to choose from and it also allows them to draw comparisons from other websites and then make a decision about which product to buy based on their design, price and quality. As Wysocki claimed in 1998 that “Virtual shopping also opens up the possibility of individualising pricing for consumers as the latter increasingly shop around looking for the best deals on comparable goods”. Most buyers also rely on customer reviews while purchasing a product. This is a plus point of online shopping where past buyers share their views and experiences of the product. To customers main attributes of online shopping are convenience and ease of access (Wolfinbarger and Gilly, 2001). They can order products from anywhere around the world just with a few clicks. E-shopping is a very wide market where almost everything from clothes to jewellery to accessories and groceries are sold. It is very fitting for people with full time jobs as they have very little free time and that too not necessarily in the opening hours of the store they want to shop from.The usage of the internet as a communication and transaction medium in customer markets is increasing fast (Castells, 2000; Hart, Doherty, and Ellis-Chadwick, 2000).Brands are constantly working to improve customer experience from online shopping in order to provide customer satisfaction hence, online shopping is made easier with the help of online banking and door to door delivery, availability of products regardless of its location in any part of world and introduction of applications where these can be accessed even from smartphones. Portrayal of 4P’s completely changes in E-Marketing from that of traditional marketing. In terms of ‘Product’ even though customers can’t touch it but product specification are provided to give a rough idea about the product. ‘Price’: products are cheaper online than In-stores. This is generally a competitive scheme so that the products sell more. Sales are well-promoted online and it has better awareness too. ‘Promotion’ for the visual market is done as E-Promotion which requirers a brand to show their ads on different websites or television. They can also be circulated in the form of messages or emails (UKEssays, 2015). This platform is also beneficial in enabling a brand to keep track of their competitors and their various products, prices and marketing strategies. t helps the brand analyse which of their products are best sellers and what the customers prefer.
One can very well derive from the contemporary scenario that ‘Marketing’ mix has dominated the market since a very long time. It still exists in some parts but in this era of internet new marketing strategies and techniques are coming up which have very little relevance to the traditional 4P’s of marketing as instead of doing marketing from the management’s perspective, it is now keeping the consumer side in the centre and everything else is influenced by keeping them on top. Marketing mix used by a particular firm will vary according to its resources, market conditions and changing needs of clients (Goi, 2009). For example, the marketing strategies for brands like Forever 21 and H&M, both of which are clothing retail brands will be different from food chains like Domino’s and Mc Donald’s in terms of not only their products but also their promotion style and targeting the consumer group. To begin with, the Four P’s were never applicable to all markets and to all types of marketing situations. There are no personalised relationships between the producer and the consumer which is a very crucial set-back in today’s world as the most important attribute for a ‘successful brand’ is customer-satisfaction. With the industrial revolution and breakthrough of the World Wide Web, practical use of the 4P’s has become limited or of no relevance. There is a very little amount of physically packaged products and almost everything from creams to cakes are available for sale online. Creativity and innovation are factors that impress the potential customers and persuades them to buy the product from a brand with a unique image. Even packaging and advertisements: posters, brand ambassadors, tv’s, emails. Even though the functional use of the 4P’s is very narrow, it is still the most commonly used marketing strategy due to it’s simplicity. Many text as the textbooks are based upon it and this prompts the teachers to teach around this framework instead of the constantly changing social aspect that marketing actually is (Grönroos, 1997). The main conclusion drawn here is that marketing requires adapting new strategies with changing stages and evolving along with it by coming up with approaches that are unique and appealing to a large audience. “The number of possible strategies of the marketing mix is infinite” (McCarthy, 2006). Hence, we can say that marketing mix is still valid to some extent but it’s applicability is completely restricted framework of the Four pre-determined P’s. It requires modifications and amends with respect to the context of the situation of what should be more suitable for that product or the company as a whole.
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