In Defense of the 4Ps and Marketing

In Defense of the 4Ps and Marketing

I’ve seen many articles on marketers coming up with a 5th P, a 6th P, an 8th P, but I must take a controversial stand and say there really are only 4Ps.  Phil Kotler was the one that popularized this concept in his Marketing Management book.  I’m sure I have taken liberties with some of his argumentation in order to defend this highly valuable concept.

Most of the time I see an additional P it’s because the first rule of marketing has been broken and that is that we need to put the 4Ps in context of the consumer.  If we do that, many of the extra Ps go away.

Product:  At a top level, what do consumers purchase?  They purchase a product or service with real features that have perceptions.  Those features can be rational, such as, ‘strawberry flavor’, or emotional, such as, ‘offers great value for the money.’  In service industries, they interact with people, but what they are actually purchasing, prior to the first purchase is their perception of the quality of service (since they have no actual history with the product).  After they’ve purchased the service, and want to re-purchase, they are purchasing their estimate of the future quality of that service versus the other providers.

Place:  Where do they purchase a product?  They purchase it online or in a store.  People are often involved, e.g., the salesperson, but the sales team is only delivering messages as part of the Promotion P.

Price:  At what price?  This one is generally pretty simple, until we start looking at credit cards with points, where the price can actually be negative and total cost of ownership which may include other products and services to deliver a complete solution.

Promotion:  This is the sum of all messages received, at various qualities and from various sources, including mass media, direct media and social media.  We need to remember that other people in social media simply provide a message that has some level of being heard/viewed, of being understood, of being remembered and of being persuasive, similar to a message on TV which also has some the same components to it.

So from the consumers perspective, I still have not found any additional P’s that make sense for marketers.

Let me know your comments.  I would love to see where I’m going wrong.