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The marketing mix including the 4ps of marketing

Understanding the 4 Ps of marketing in the 21st century

The marketing mix aims to make a marketing positioning concrete; it includes several focus areas as part of a comprehensive marketing plan. A marketing mix consists of the tactics and tools used to market a company’s offerings and influence customers to buy them. The best marketing mix uses up-to-date market research and data-driven strategies to reach customers and drive sales.

In many cases, a change of tact is required; something must be fixed if a company’s marketing mix isn’t constantly in flux. Marketing strategies that engaged customers ten or even two years ago will likely be outdated by now, so consistently assessing an audience, the marketing plan, and the tools used is simply smart business.

The marketing mix and the 4Ps are great tools that can help sidestep these mistakes.

What are the four Ps of marketing?


An effective marketing strategy starts with an understanding of the four Ps. The 4 Ps were conceptualised in 1960 by E. Jerome McCarthy in the influential text Basic Marketing, A Managerial Approach. The four Ps must be carefully reviewed and wisely implemented to market a product or service successfully. They are:


A product is a service or good that fulfils consumer needs or desires. It’s also defined as a bundle of utilities with physical aspects such as design, volume or brand name. The product type impacts its perceived value, making companies price it profitably. Product type can also affect other aspects, including advertisements and product placement.

Companies can change a product’s packaging, warranty, after-sales service and price range. Furthermore, it can expand its product into new markets to meet specified company objectives.

For a product to be successful, a marketer must understand the product life cycle and develop strategies for every stage, i.e., introduction, growth, maturity, and decline. 


Product price directly influences sales volume and, as a result, the profits of a business. Demand, cost, pricing trends among competitors, and government regulations are crucial in determining product pricing. The price of a product is reflected by the product’s perceived value rather than its actual value. As a result, pricing can be increased to promote exclusivity or reduced to create access.

Furthermore, pricing involves deciding the introductory price, discounts, price alteration, credit terms or freight payments. It is also essential to determine whether techniques such as discounting are required. 


Promotion relates to the advertising, salesforce, direct marketing, public relations or advertising budgets of a product. Promotion is an essential cog within the 4ps and, implemented correctly, spreads awareness about the products and services offered by a company. Promotional efforts include:

  • Advertising: A method of promoting a product, service, or idea by disseminating a sponsored or non-personal message.
  • Public relations: Managing and controlling the flow and topic of information from an organisation to the public, media or other institutions.
  • Marketing strategy: Identifying a target market and using the appropriate tools (i.e., advertising) to impact the targeted market.

Online factors also have an impact on the promotion of a product. For example:

  • determining the class of search functions within Google that will trigger targeted ads related to the product
  • the design and layout of a company’s webpage
  • the handles used on social media such as Twitter and Instagram.


Place refers to where products are available for sale. Ensuring that a product is available to the customer at the right time and place is essential. Decisions involving the placing and pricing of wholesale and which retail outlets to target must be taken with due diligence. Distribution channels such as outsourcing or purchasing a fleet of transport vehicles are decided upon after a cost-benefit analysis. Minute details such as shelf space committed to the product at department stores are also carefully thought out.

What is a marketing mix example using the 4 Ps?

Let’s consider a convenience outlet chain that provides various products, including fresh and packaged food, tools, household kitchen items and magazines. Here’s how a marketing strategy using the 4 Ps should be adopted:

  • Product: Primarily, foods and various items located and packaged in a way that provides the most convenience for a consumer
  • Price: Pricing will be aligned with supermarkets; there are some exceptions where convenience adds unique/local appeal.
  • Place: Locations should be strategically positioned near residential areas, shopping, and educational centres.
  • Promotion: Advertising will be constrained mainly to posted promotional material, outlet buildings, and local social media pages.

Another example might be a streaming service. Here, the 4 Ps are as follows:

  • Product: Original quality entertainment with convenient viewing access.
  • Price: Free trial offer, premium packages, and a commercial-free subscription level.
  • Place: The subscriber’s digital device.
  • Promotion: Extended advertising across various channels and platforms, including high-value billboards, magazines, and word of mouth.

Here, the customer experience is appealing, with long-form video content primarily in popular TV, films, and comedy specials and more emphasis on convenient home viewing.

What are the 7 Ps in a marketing mix?

The traditional marketing mix, established by Professor James Culliton of Harvard University in 1948 and refined by Jerome McCarthy, encompasses product, price, placement, and promotion that has been ever-present in the industry for over 70 years. Since then, the approach has expanded into the 7 Ps of marketing. The three additional elements of the marketing mix include the following:

  • People: People refers to anyone directly or indirectly involved in the business side of an organisation. I.e., a person(s) involved in selling a product or service, concept and design, marketing, managing teams, representing customers, recruiting and training.
  • Physical evidence: Physical evidence is much more than proof of purchase. While physical proof of a sale is essential, physical evidence is much more than that; it’s the very existence of a brand. This includes website branding, social media, the logo on company property, product packaging and post-sale aftercare (i.e., after-sale email). These elements offer the consumer the physical evidence required to be sure that a business is viable, reliable and, above all, legitimate.
  • Process: Standardised procedures are usually adopted in cases of policy, practices, systems, and consumer involvement to create continuity while delivering services.

Deepen your knowledge and skills in marketing

Develop the skills to become a marketer with our 100% online MSc Management with Marketing from the University of Lincoln.

Our part-time Master’s degree is designed to provide an in-depth understanding of the core subjects you’ll need to manage a business in the 21st Century. You’ll have the opportunity to develop your knowledge in key areas of marketing, such as

  • International marketing and planning
  • Digital marketing
  • Global relationship marketing
  • Applied consumer behaviour