Product: 4 P’s – Elements of the Marketing Mix

Envisioning the marketing mix as a four wheel vehicle. Each wheel represents an essential facet of the marketing mix: Product, Price, Place and Promotion. The wheels drive the vehicle forward when propelled. Intricacies of the marketing mix are spokes which must be installed between the hub and rim, tensioned precisely in order to be ‘true’, in other words to be made round and aligned with no warp, wobble or dishing, thus allowing the vehicle to roll smoothly down the road to success.

The firm must provide value in order to be of benefit to the people who consume what the firm offers. Review our definition: “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” Value is created through providing products.

Product seems obvious, but creating a product that has value requires tremendous resources, research and development. Wheels in the stone ages probably resulted from a person first seeing that a round rock rolled and a flat rock could not…however, a couple of flat circular rocks with a straight log between them became helpful in moving objects larger than one or even a group of people could budge.

Fast forward to today’s automotive industry with all of its many cars, trucks and motorcycles each offering something more than just transportation from points A to B. Designers consider function and utility, of course, but to stand out from the crowd and sell in the marketplace, they also add style, appealing colors, comfortable interior amenities, safety features, fuel economy and multiple other innovations that help people identify with their chosen vehicle. Even providing continuity with the character, lifestyle, beliefs and feelings of owners. Some feel far more intelligent because they drive a ‘Smart’ Car.

Products encompass the realm of tangibles (goods), intangibles (services) and ideas. Many offering combine goods, services and/or ideas. For instance, a computer hardware company such as Dell sells computers. They package the hardware with certain software (goods) that makes the computer usable. If something goes wrong when you setup the computer in the office or at home, you call for support (service) to resolve the difficulty.

Products create value by providing something that benefits customers by satisfying their needs, wants or desires. In this customer-centric era of business, excellent companies  transcend from a selling mentality of discovering and providing what consumers want to a value platform of providing what customers want at a greater cost/benefit relationship than competitors do.

Relating to product as one of the marketing mix wheels on the marketing vehicle, the spokes of the product wheel are products, services and ideas balanced by the fair and competitive value based on what the customer has to give up (price) versus what the customer gains (benefits). When the tension of the spokes balance the wheel rolls true.

Next we’ll explore the Price and Place facets of the marketing mix.

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