How does an organization determine the right marketing mix? The answer depends on the organization’s goals. Think of the marketing mix as a recipe that can be adjusted—through small adjustments or dramatic changes—to support broader company goals.
Decisions about the marketing-mix variables are interrelated. Each of the marketing mix variables must be coordinated with the other elements of the marketing program.
Consider, for a moment, the simple selection of hair shampoo. Let’s think about three different brands of shampoo and call them Discount, Upscale, and Premium. The table below shows some of the elements of the marketing mix that impact decisions by target customers.
|Product||Cleansing product, pleasant smell, low-cost packaging||Cleansing product, pleasant smell, attractive packaging||Cleansing product, pleasant smell created by named ingredients, premium packaging|
|Promotion||Few, if any, broad communications||National commercials show famous female “customers” with clean, bouncy hair||Differentiating features and ingredients highlighted (e.g., safe for coloured hair), as well as an emphasis on the science behind the formula. Recommended by stylist in the salon.|
|Place||Distributed in grocery stores and drugstores||Distributed in grocery stores and drugstores||Distributed only in licensed salons|
|Price||Lowest price on the shelf||Highest price in the grocery store (8 times the prices of discount)||3 to 5 times the price of Upscale|
A number of credible studies suggest that there is no difference in the effectiveness of Premium or Upscale shampoo compared with Discount shampoo, but the communication, distribution, and price are substantially different. Each product appeals to a very different target market. Do you buy your shampoo in a grocery store or a salon? Your answer is likely based on the marketing mix that has most influenced you.
An effective marketing mix centers on a target customer. Each element of the mix is evaluated and adjusted to provide unique value to the target customer. In our shampoo example, if the target market is affluent women who pay for expensive salon services, then reducing the price of a premium product might actually hurt sales, particularly if it leads stylists in salons to question the quality of the ingredients. Similarly, making the packaging more appealing for a discount product could have a negative impact if it increases the price even slightly or if it causes shoppers to visually confuse it with a more expensive product.
The goal with the marketing mix is to align marketing activities with the needs of the target customer.