Observations, deductions and feelings fueled by tequila, tea and tobacco

The missing ‘P’

In V-A on May 16, 2007 at 00:46

Anyone who’s ever gone near any course in marketing could not have missed the 4 Ps of marketing, namely, Product, Price, Promotion and Place.

Now I don’t know if it’s just me, or whether others too have been noticing it, but in India, marketing has been relying only on 3Ps…. traditionally just the price, sometimes the product, and lately the promotion. Now it’s easy to understand the focus on each of these –

Price is the easiest of levers to move and the only lever for which results are (relatively) predictable. Thus, it has been the oldest, and most (ab)used weapon in us marketers’ armoury.

Product is another member of the quartet, investments in which can more or less be substantiated by using the various devices of market research, STP, etc to (dis)prove the hypothesis.

Promotion is the (relatively) new entrant. It has been around for long long time, right from the beginning of the concept of marketing. But recently, this P has had renewed focus – both in terms of attention and the corresponding spends – largely thankful to the newly liberalised traditional media, emergence of new ones such as this and transformation of some others – crude hand drawn billboards to this:

Ginger Hotel

The fourth P – Place, or more correctly the channel of sale/marketing/delivery – is something that’s still a laggard in, atleast, the Indian context. Other parts of the globe have, for some time now, been seeing an increasing role of the channel in marketing strategies of organisations – direct from dell, Amazon’s one-click, Amway’s MLM and Apple’s iTunes-iPod combo being examples of channel as the marketing strategy. In India, however, we’re still to wake up to the importance of channel – apart from being a distribution medium that makes products available for sale. Apart from travel bookings, my amnesiac brain can’t recall another significant sector of economy where there’s been a significant change in channel strategies or use of channel strategy as a significant competitive differentiator.

I guess, we – the marketers in India – are still too lost in the glare of promotion and the promise of product (price still rears its head once in a while) to give a serious look to the place. Not that the attempts haven’t been made, they sure have – ITC’s e-choupal, and half hearted attempts by dozens of brands to copy it/piggy ride, and micro scale initiatives such as Airtel’s plan to recruit the dabbawala’s of Bombay to sell new connections are some of them outside the travel sector.

For most marketers in India – especially in the products space (FMCG, Consumer Goods, etc), channel strategy is still something that is decided by the higher-ups and executed by the operations team. Marketing has little to do with it and this needs to change.

Business World (or was it Business Today) had in not-too-distant past done a running series on the problems facing marketing as a function. I do not remember correctly if any of those articles did cover it, but for marketing in India to start delivering at its best once again, it’s about time that it discovered the fourth P – Its time for marketing to take charge of the channels!

My memory is really failing me and I can’t recollect (m)any marketing driven channel innovations around. Would be highly grateful if any of the few readers of this post can help with whatever they seem to remember. You can post them below in comments or mail them to me at ravenbarks@gmail.com. Thanks a ton!

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  1. For years, marketers (particularly high tech marketers by the way) have talked about the “five Ps” (depending on who you talk to by the way there are more than five): product, price, promotion, positioning, publicity, packaging, permission…..blah blah blah…

    These became a simple marketing checklist, a way to impress the boss or brainwash yourself into thinking you had done your job properly.

    Today marketing isn’t just about creating demand – but about providing intrinsic value – building products or services worth noticing. Companies should begin to try to understand that if their offering itself isn’t remarkable, then in the grand scheme of things it will become invisible very quickly – no matter how much money is chucked at well-crafted marketing campaigns – and irrespective of whether they focus on price, promotion, positioning.

    Offcourse, as always, this is IMHO.

    Chris@rawstylus.wordpress.com

  2. […] Recently I’d written about the 4th P not being optimally utilised by marketers. I saw another sample where even the 1st P – the product – had been only partly looked at. While at […]

  3. […] Related to: The missing P […]

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