Marketing involves a number of activities. To begin with, an organisation may decide on its target group of customers to be served. Once the target group is decided, the product is to be placed in the market by providing the appropriate product, price, distribution and promotional efforts. These are to be combined or mixed in an appropriate proportion so as to achieve the marketing goal.
Such mix of product, price, distribution and promotional efforts is known as Marketing Mix.
According to Philip Kotler "Marketing Mix is the set of controllable variables that the firm can use to influence the buyer’s response". The controllable variables in this context refer to the 4 Ps - product, price, place (distribution) and promotion.
Each firm strives to build up such a composition of 4Ps, which can create highest level of consumer satisfaction and at the same time meet its organisational objectives. Thus, this mix is assembled keeping in mind the needs of target customers, and it varies from one organisation to another depending upon its available resources and marketing objectives.
Product refers to the goods and services offered by the organisation. A pair of shoes, a plate of dahi-vada, a lipstick, all are products. All these are purchased because they satisfy one or more of our needs. We are paying not for the tangible product but for the benefit it will provide.
So, in simple words, product can be described as a bundle of benefits which a marketeer offers to the consumer for a price. While buying a pair of shoes, we are actually buying comfort for our feet, while buying a lipstick we are actually paying for beauty because lipstick is likely to make us look good.
Product can also take the form of a service like an air travel, telecommunication, etc. Thus, the term product refers to goods and services offered by the organisation for sale.
Price is the amount charged for a product or service. It is the second most important element in the marketing mix. Fixing the price of the product is a tricky job. Many factors like demand for a product, cost involved, consumer’s ability to pay, prices charged by competitors for similar products, government restrictions, etc. have to be kept in mind while fixing the price.
Pricing is a very crucial decision area as it has its effect on demand for the product and also on the profitability of the firm.
Goods are produced to be sold to the consumers. They must be made available to the consumers at a place where they can conveniently make purchase. For example, woolens are manufactured on a large scale in Ludhiana and you purchase them at a store from the nearby market in your town. So, it is necessary that the product is available at shops in your town.
This involves a chain of individuals and institutions like distributors, wholesalers and retailers who constitute firm’s distribution network (also called a channel of distribution). The organisation has to decide whether to sell directly to the retailer or through the distributors or wholesaler. It can even plan to sell it directly to consumers. The choice is guided by a host of factors.
If the product is manufactured keeping the consumer needs in mind, is rightly priced and made available at outlets convenient to them but the consumer is not made aware about its price, features, availability, etc, its marketing effort may not be successful. Therefore promotion is an important ingredient of marketing mix as it refers to a process of informing, persuading and influencing a consumer to make choice of the product to be bought.
Promotion is done through means of personal selling, advertising, publicity and sales promotion. It is done mainly with a view to provide information to prospective consumers about the availability, characteristics and uses of a product. It arouses potential consumer’s interest in the product, compare it with competitors’ product and make his choice. The proliferation of print and electronic media has immensely helped the process of promotion.