Why a new approach to the 4 P's?

 Almost every textbook discusses them in a different order.

Almost every marketing textbook presents the 4 P's in a different order despite the fact that only one order is logical. Virtualy none of the textbooks discuss the marketing mix variables from the perspective of strategy, i.e., what price, place or promotion strategies are logical given a brand's core benefit proposition. A study of 21 marketing textbooks1 published in the past four decades found that all combinations of product-price-place-promotion were represented:

Order of 4 P's

"Principles of Marketing" Textbooks

Product-price-place-promotion Frain; Kotler; Matthews et al.; Dalrymple and Parsons
Product-price-promotion-place Guiltinan and Paul; Gwinner et al.; Taylor and Shaw; Booth; Urban and Star; Tarpey et al.; Kerin et al.
Product-place-promotion-price Greer; Lewinson; McCarthy; Peter and Olson; Lamb et al.
Product-place-price-promotion Buskirk; Holloway and Hancock
Product-promotion-price-place Bagozzi et al.; Aaker
Place-product-promotion-price Dickson; Ring et al.

Sara Munsen, the MBA student at the University of Iowa who assisted in this research,2 comments: "The role of marketing as a driver of corporate strategy and operations is an additional reason that the marketing mix decisions should be approached in this logical order. Marketing is a central hub in a corporation, and each marketing mix option affects other divisions and products throughout the company. If promotion is prioritized ahead of pricing in a marketing strategy, there may not be adequate margins to support the planned promotion. A product positioning that loses money per unit sold will be not viewed positively.

An illustration of the point, consider a marketer at Hallmark Cards who is working on a Holiday Boxed Card offering. The pricing decision will directly impact the creative effort and cost value points that can be devoted to the cards during product development. The place decision will determine how the product should be branded, which sales team will be assigned to offering the cards, and how much transportation and distribution expense should be allocated to the product. Finally, the promotion decision can be made according to the estimated margin per unit that has been determined by the pricing decision in step 1, and by the estimated sales volume that has been determined by the place decision in step 2. If these decisions were made out of order, corporate resources could be misaligned and the product's profitability could be in jeopardy."

Our conclusion was that marketing logic demands that the tactical marketing mix variables be set in the order of price, place and finally promotion.

1Source: Principles of Marketing

2Sangkil Moon, a Ph.D. student at the University of Iowa, originally collected this information.

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