Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Marketing, Customers, Business, Consumer, Products, Relationships, Strategy, Organization

Pages: 10

Words: 2750

Published: 2020/10/28

Dating back to the 1980s, applications of the now well-known marketing mix have seen huge success and several milestones have been achieved. However, as pointed out by Belohlavek (2008), the marketing mix very often targeted marketing efforts on a hypothetical client rather than on a real one. In other words, the marketing mix was the perfect fit in a product-oriented society; today’s market-oriented societies demand a new effort.
This paper aims to evaluate the usefulness of the famed Marketing Mix approach in the rapidly evolving markets of today. Agreeing with the evaluations of Constantinides (2006), it is revealed that several weaknesses of the marketing mix have gone unnoticed, and organizations today should not solely rely on this marketing tool.

Concept and Objectives of the Marketing Mix

According to Belohlavek (2008), commercial actions of an organization are guided by the marketing mix and it is essential that the objectives of the marketing mix are understood in order to influence the consumer’s mind. Determining the perfect combination of the promotions to be used with the product and its price, and ensuring availability to the consumer are all elements of the marketing mix working together to provide a complete experience to the customer. In this manner a consistent marketing mix becomes a strong source of competitive advantage for the business (Kumar, 2006). The objective that the marketing mix achieves in this manner is influencing the consumer’s purchase decision. Thus it is important to understand how to influence the consumer’s mind by meeting an unfulfilled need. With this in mind the marketing mix concept, initially introduced by Neil Borden in the 1950s, has undergone immense modifications, finally narrowing down to the concept of 4 Ps – Product, Place, Price, and Promotion (Goi, 2009). Several more Ps have been suggested in the marketing mix over the years of its evolution; however, the original four have remained. The reasons behind the widespread acceptance and popularity of the marketing mix concept have been varied, but according to Goi (2009), these include:
Theoretical and Practical Ease – Concentrating all marketing efforts on four broad elements has made the practical application of the entire marketing concept easy to understand and implement. Marketers have been gaining competitive advantages through management of these four elements and so are unwilling to give up the key concept of marketing mix.
Separate Marketing Activity – Most activities such as strategic alignment and total quality management (TQM) do not fall into clearly marked departments, leaving all departments confused and unclear on the amount of efforts required from them. The marketing mix activity is a separate marketing activity, giving the reigns into the hands of the marketing department and giving it a sense of completion once the efforts have been made.
Easier break-down of Marketing efforts allowing Delegation – The application of the marketing mix allow marketing efforts to be broken down into small specialist tasks that can be handed over to professionals thus ensuring that each element is performed to perfection.
The 4 Ps marketing strategy has been functional for long and was designed to cater the mass market. It is important to understand, however, that times are changing and so are the consumers. The way marketing was carried out previously may no more be effective and an evolved consumer base may require a revolutionized marketing strategy (Dudovskiy, 2012).

Changing Role of Consumers

The greatest change in the marketing realm in the 21st century has been the shift from being product-oriented to being market-oriented. The power of the consumer has grown immensely and from being the one to whom products were sold he became the dictator of products to be produced (Morgan, 1993). Market-orientation requires that customers’ latent needs are studied and catered to in order to develop a pro-active and long standing marketing relationship with the evolving market. The consumer is no more at the marketer’s disposal. Technologies such as the Internet have allowed consumers to compare product features, prices, and even make instant decisions without really needing a trained salesperson to describe and sell the product. Such an informed consumer is not only a challenge to the marketing strategy at use but also a reason to innovate and be ahead of competition in terms of product features and marketing techniques (Slater & Narver, 1998).
Consumers are now a part of the product innovation and production process through continuous feedback to organizations. The Internet allows consumers to compare products, brands, and communicate with companies regarding their expectations from the product (Pride & Ferrell, 2014). The expectation of a customized product with a unique set of desired characteristics is a constant challenge for companies and their marketers. Consumer groups, internet communities, and brand-followers have started making marketing efforts wasteful. Such groups have a strong influence on consumer choices making them resistant to marketing efforts. Therefore, every marketing initiative needs to breakthrough a clutter and reach out to the target consumer (Cova & Dalli, 2009).
Cova & Dalli (2009) further reveal that the degree to which a product has company specific characteristics, the greater is the organization’s control in the consumer-producer relationship. Everyday products when given greater attitudinal or emotional value by the customer, make for a highly consumer dominated consumer-producer relationship. The product is not worth anything without the image that the consumer holds for it. Similarly, a service experience is more satisfying for a consumer who plays an active role by being involved in the service delivery process. Again, this leaves greater power in the hands of the consumer, rather than the marketer. More and more consumers today fall in the non-conformist group; the demand for tailor-made products is on the rise. On the brighter side, this gives organizations an opportunity to innovate and benefit from a niche in the market; however, satisfying such consumers may not be that easy, thus resulting in a constant challenge for both the producer and the marketer. The empowered consumer conducts his own research, makes his own choices, and then through consumer chat groups and collaborative platforms, makes organizations do what he wants them to do. Service customization and services on demand require brands to work harder to get noticed (Mediacom, 2012). Such power of the consumer renders all marketing efforts wasteful as the consumer is his own researcher and decision-maker. Communities of final consumers often collaborate with R&D departments of companies to innovate and develop new products, thus lending them the role of both developers and marketers of the newly introduced product. Such innovative consumers tend to be the opinion leaders and trend-setters. Enabling technologies have allowed consumers to form groups, even tribes that form and spread product-specific opinions so powerfully that all marketing efforts stay defeated. When positive such consumer opinions can help market the organization’s product without the economic burden of advertising and promotion. When such consumers discuss and generate there personalized demands, the consumers are at the beginning and end of the supply chain.
These changes can be termed revolutionizing for the average organization’s production and marketing functions. So the big question arising out of several studies, such as that of Constantinides (2006), is whether the marketing mix is an apt marketing management tool for the 21st century consumer?
Although there is no denying the effectiveness of the four elements, the answer to the above question is sadly, no. The price of the product or where it is available are still factors of grave importance and ensuring that these fall in line with the overall image of the product is very important. However, the same elements were until now developed on a mass marketing basis, the changing consumer requires individualization of the 4Ps as smaller segments are being served through the development of personalized, lasting relationships. The revolutionized consumer cannot be won over with the marketing mix anymore. Several reasons explain why the marketing mix is no longer the best marketing tool.

Criticisms of Marketing Mix

Price, Promotion, Product, and Place – the 4Ps – have proved to be long standing marketing tools, but have recently been criticized by numerous scholars and marketers for several reasons, the major one being its lack of customer-centric approach in a highly customer-oriented and customer guided marketing arena.

Lack of Customer-Orientation and Interactivity

Constantinides (2006) pointed that with ever-increasing consumer expectations, any successful marketing tool will have to factor in consumer behavior in order to outdo its competition. Marketing mix, on the whole, lacks consumer relationship management which businesses today cannot afford to ignore. Customers today do not just purchase a product repetitively on impulse, rather they expect to share an experience with the product and the organization. When the experience is positive, the customer willingly goes back for the product and a lasting relationship is developed. Better communication increases customer trust and reduces the number of customers lost to competition. The study conducted by Gummesson (1997) concluded that no single definition of relationship marketing exists and the use of the Internet in marketing has offered several ways of developing a personal relationship with each consumer while storing and accessing a load of personal data of the consumer in order to analyze behavioral trends and develop a customer profile. The marketing effort develops to a whole new level of interacting and sharing with the consumer. Grönroos (2009) termed it relationship-orientation and stated that it requires a marketing paradigm shift. Communication, personalization, and interaction are required to be the corner stones of relationship orientation and the marketing mix is heavily criticized for an internal orientation and one-way communication. In this way, it fails to establish relationships to retain customers.
Finally, Constantinides (2006) revealed that marketing mix also fails to address the personalized requirements of the buyer-seller relationship due to its inherent mass marketing themes. In the case of Industrial marketing, the manipulation of the marketing mix elements is less important than maintaining long term relationships with suppliers, thus forming entry barriers for other suppliers and securing bulk orders (Kumar, 2006).

Lack of Human Factor –Services Marketing

Since the introduction of the 4Ps of marketing mix, no significant change was brought to the concept of marketing mix but there were several attempts to add a few Ps to the mix. The most commonly added 5th P is that of People, which requires that interaction amongst people providing the product and the consumers. The concept of services marketing – as the demand for these grew – and with relationship marketing, the need for the human factor was deeply felt. A strong customer contact point and well-trained staff were seen as essentials of ensuring repeat customers (Dudovskiy, 2012). Vargo & Lusch (2004) emphasize that the economic exchange no longer includes the exchange of goods alone, it rather requires service provision along with the goods as intangible resources and relationships are valued more and help retain customers. The service-centered view requires that well-trained staff is used to provide a product along with a relationship-maintaining service in order to develop a competitive advantage. The service that tags along can be used to satisfy the new desire of today’s evolved consumer – customization. Finally, using financial performance as a measure, firms need to analyze their offering and identify ways of improving it. In such a case, the knowledge of employees becomes the fundamental source of competitive advantage and ignoring the importance of the fifth P – People – becomes difficult. Again, this is a resultant of the shift of focus from the producer to the consumer; greater interactivity and lasting relationships have become the key to success as competition soars.
Masterson & Pickton (2010) have also introduced that the extended marketing mix of the 7Ps – included people, physical evidence, and process - since the growth of the service marketing; however, this concept is still not widely accepted in the marketing community.

Lack of Strategic Outlook

The marketing mix concept has no provisions for the impact of external factors. As no business entity can operate in isolation, economic, legal, technological, and social factors should be taken into account. This essentially requires that the marketing tool being used evaluates the impact of each external factor on the performance of the business and ensures that the marketing efforts are modified accordingly. As an example, an economic recession does not require lavish marketing expenditure rather efforts should be focused on increasing market penetration, by entering new markets rather than expecting repeat purchases (Dudovskiy, 2012). As presented by Constantinides (2006), the inability to include external factors into the marketing equation is an inherent disorder of the marketing mix. When external factors and issues are not incorporated, the marketing strategy remains too simple and is not aligned with the corporate strategy. Thus, marketing mix can be blamed to be a strategy that works in isolation. The opportunities and threats posed by the external environment go unnoticed and the marketing element of the corporate strategy is not aligned with the overall goals of the organization.

Inappropriate Weightage placed in Other Functions of Production and Marketing

The elements of the marketing mix involve internal variables that a manager has direct control over. Making sure that all relevant internal factors are included in the mix should be a function of the marketing mix approach; however, it fails to cover several such elements the most important one being people or the staff of the business. Similarly, processes that result in the production of the final offering should be controlled to ensure quality and cost-effectiveness. In the case of service organizations, the physical evidence of the offering, such as the branch building of a bank, also need to be controlled and maintained as it forms a part of the offering (Smith & Taylor, 2004). The failure of marketing mix in controlling these elements results in the need of a more comprehensive marketing strategy that takes into account all internal and external factors.


The good old marketing mix has been the marketing strategy of choice for quite some time. It is time that the shortcomings of this strategy be understood and the changing face of today’s consumer be met with an all-encompassing marketing tool. Revolutionized consumer values and demands require that each element of the mix and many more dimensions are analyzed to derive a well-orchestrated marketing strategy that aligns the efforts of the business with its long term goals.
The marketing mix has at most been criticized for its lack of customer – centricity. Today, all business activities need to begin with and revolve around the consumer. Managing lasting relationships with customers is an important goal of the marketing department as repeat sales define the true victory of a marketing strategy. The rise of the service industry has shown the need of marketing efforts that ensure every customer contact point helps to add to the image of the product/brand. Even a tangible product is now a complete offering and the level of service received with the product establishes competitive advantage. The inability of the marketing mix technique to account for external factors reduces its practical appeal.
Given the new marketing stage, a marketing management tool that aligns its objectives with the corporate objectives of the organization is required. A Customer Relationship Management solution with dedicated departments for advertisement and promotion can be one solution, whereas different organizations have realized that there is no one defined marketing tool now. Every organization needs to analyze its internal and external environment before defining its marketing strategy.


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