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Application of the marketing mix is no longer relevant for contemporary approaches to marketing.
Marketing mix, as a part of marketing strategy, may affect the performance of one company. However, as to whether it still plays an important role in the contemporary marketing, many scholars and academics have various views, and some of them regard it as controversial, see Grönroos 1994, McCarthy 1960, Kent 1986 for more detail. Based on the previous analysis, this essay mainly discusses the relevance of the marketing mix used in two certain contemporary approaches- customer's marketing, and relationship marketing as the limitation study of this essay.
The Definition of Marketing and Marketing Mix
In order to have a clear idea on marketing mix, first of all, the concept of marketing should be discussed.
As reported by Keith Blois (2000, p.517), the American Marketing Association (1985) makes a conclusion of defining marketing as "the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing , promotion, and distribution of ideas, goods and services to create and satisfy individual and organizational objectives " and UK's Chartered Institute of Marketing(1996) defines the marketing as "the management process of planning, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably." In general, these two definitions focus on the transaction approach in marketing rather than relationship marketing, which the latter one plays a more important role in nowadays marketing approach. As supported by Philip Kotler and Gary Armstrong's (2007, p.5), marketing definition is "the process of creating value for customers and build strong customer relationships in order to capture value from customers in return." This is also the reason of choosing customer's marketing and relationship marketing as the main contemporary approach to discuss in latter parts of this article.
After the figure out the definition of marketing, then it seems necessary to draw a clear picture of what marketing mix refers to, for the reason that many scholars and academic now have different views whether it should be change into 4C, or 4R, or add more Ps.
Neil Borden (1975) who may first create the term "marketing mix", and made a list of "12 subdivisions" as the components within marketing mix, which can be "divided into 4 categories, namely, consumer attitudes and habits, trade attitudes and methods competition and government control." as explicated by Baker (2007, p.328). He also discusses many types of classifying the elements of marketing mix, for examples the Albert Frey's "two dimensions" (1961), "threefold classification" of Lazer and Kelley (1975) and Lazer et al (1973) and "a four-way classification" of Lipson and Darling (1971), but he prefers the idea of 4Ps-product, price, place and promotion as refer to marketing mix, which firstly proposed by McCarthy (1978). As Baker (2007) points out the 4Ps model simplifies the way to make a clear structure as a whole for marketing managers and guide them to achieve a certain task. Philip Kotler and Gary Armstrong (2007) define the marketing mix as "the set of controllable, tactical marketing tools" (p.50), in order to get the feedback of the certain markets, and regard the 4Ps as marketing mix. Moreover, according to David Jobber (2001), "The strength of the 4Ps approach is that it represents a memorable and practical framework for marketing decision-making and has proved useful for case study analysis in business schools for many years."
Therefore, as 4Ps-product, price, place and promotion, are still widely recognized by worldwide scholars as marketing mix, this article will use 4Ps to discuss its relevance of contemporary marketing approach.
The Relevance to Customer's Marketing
The development of the marketing approach and modern technology facilitate the customers to get more chances to be evolved in commercial activities, business communications and collecting data from the internet. Thus, the customer becomes more sophisticated to serve, as E. Constantinides (2006, p.413) illustrates that many researchers agree that "modern consumer is demanding, individualistic, involved, independent, better informed and more critical (Capon and Hulbert 2000; Lewis and Bridger 2000)". In this case, the marketers need to focus on the individual needs and wants and make the service personalized rather than carrying out the traditional marketing approach as mass marketing. For example, a famous cosmetic band Biotherm makes its products different according to the local markets. A product called corrective make-up base which have four different colors and SPF25 can only be sold in a China. Although it is more related to global marketing, but to some extent, the product is sold based on the local customer's need-the skin of Chinese is more sensitive than European country. Another example is Dell Computer Company, which is more concentrate on customizing their products. The company tries very hard to collect as many choices as possible for every single consumer, in order to meet their personalized needs. However, when look into the marketing techniques used by both companies, they all emphasize on customer or consumer's needs as the first principles, and it is obvious that marketing mix-product, price, place and promotion, do not contain the element of customer. And according to E. Constantinides (2006), Robins (1991) pointed that 4Ps model of marketing mix concerns the internal elements too much, instead, the external elements such as "Customers, Competitors, Capabilities, Company" should be also taken into consideration. And Kotler (1984) advocated that as part of marketing strategy, some "external and uncontrollable environmental factors" are needed to include in the marketing mix, namely, "Customers Environmental variables Competitive variables".
As discussed above, it indicates that, in customer's marketing, the markers should think more about how to satisfy their customers, rather than just focus on the product itself. In other words, markers should do something for the customer instead of to them and be more customer-oriented. Today, consumer is no long the one who just buy the "mass" products, but the one who personalize the products by themselves and even push forward the one company's creativity. Besides, customer's marketing requires more consumer interactivity. As argued by Doyle (1994), and Yudelson (1999) in E. Constantinides (2006), that to get higher value is not as the only purpose to consumer, but they also want to affect on the process of communicating. In this case, the 4Ps marketing mix seems not as relevant to the customers' marketing as to other marketing, like transactional marketing.
The Relevance to Relationship Marketing
Evert Gummesson (2008) defines relationship marketing as "an approach to develop long-term loyal customers and thus increasing profitability." And he even develops 30R (relationship) to elaborate the core concept-"relationship, network and interaction".
Gronroos (1994) argues that the 4Ps model marketing mix is much more "clinical approach, restrictive and obsolete", which also makes the buyer a passive part rather then an active part as it should be.
Patterson andWard (2000) in E. Constantinides (2006, p.417) illustrate that 4Ps Marketing Mix "has a clearly offensive character because the strategies associated to the 4Ps tend to be function-oriented and output oriented." In order to solve the problem caused by 4Ps, he advocates the emphasis should be in "managing valued customer relationships", and proposes "new Cs", namely, "Communication Customization Collaboration and Clairvoyance".
From the above statement, it is clearly that the limitation of 4Ps marketing mix in relationship marketing. The 4Ps marketing mix is lack of customer orientation, either in interactive communication or in satisfying the consumers' needs. Gronroos (1994) even pointed out that the marketing paradigm will eventually shift to relationship marketing rather than marketing mix management.
It seems that the function of 4Ps marketing mix in dealing with customer's marketing and relationship marketing is limited. It may due to the following reasons:
Firstly, marketing mix is mainly coping with transaction marketing, which is product-oriented, as it is focus on mass markets. As Gronroos (1994) demonstrates that 4Ps model was "indeed originally developed for consumer packaged goods marketing where transaction marketing is most appropriate."
Secondly, marketing mix is as the dominating marketing function in transaction marketing, but just plays a supportive role in customer's marketing and relationship marketing.
Finally, compare with customer's marketing and relationship marketing, in transaction marketing, customers are more sensitive to the price, as the former one may add additional value to the product, to some extent can fulfill other needs of consumers.
So does 4Ps marketing mix really irrelevant to contemporary approach to marketing?
Not exactly. As the article just picks up two main marketing methods to discuss, so the conclusion is too earlier to draw.
However, when Philip Kotler and Gary Armstrong (2007) mentioned about the marketing mix, they indicated that it is better to consider the buyers or consumer's view, so they advocate 4C-customer solution, customer cost, convenience and communication, should be thought firstly, then build 4Ps on the basis of 4C, in that case, it will be more successful.
Besides this, as discussed above that the marketing mix also supports the interactive marketing as in customer's marketing and relationship marketing, so in conclusion, 4Ps is still relevant to the contemporary marketing, but at the same time, we should give priority to the customer's wants and the people's needs.
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