What are the 4 Ps of marketing? (and how to use them)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 22 June 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

In the field of marketing, the four Ps are the four basic elements involved in marketing a product or service to customers. Together, they make up the ‘marketing mix' for that product or service. If you're new to the field, learning about the four Ps can help you to understand the fundamentals of successful marketing. In this article, we explain what the four Ps of marketing are, what they mean and how you can use them.

What are the 4 Ps of marketing?

The four Ps of marketing refers to four different aspects of a marketing strategy, each of which begins with the letter P. You might also hear this referred to as a 'marketing mix'. The four Ps can be summarised as follows:

  1. Product: This refers to the good or service being marketed. It includes a description of the product in terms of its features, design, type and quality.

  2. Price: This is how much the consumer can expect to pay for the product. Another element of pricing is discounts like limited-time offers and similar, which can be used to drive sales.

  3. Promotion: This refers to the actions that are going to be taken to promote the product and increase brand exposure. How the product is advertised falls under this category.

  4. Place: this indicates where you're selling the product and the channels through which consumers can purchase it. It also refers to the channels that are going to be used to increase awareness.

Related: Marketing vs PR: key differences and 10 career options

How to use the 4 Ps in marketing

The four Ps can be understood as a checklist of things that require attention from marketers. When considering each, it is important to be aware of the interplay between them. For example, setting a high retail price for a product (Price) will impact where it makes sense to make it available to buy (Place). Below is a list of steps for developing a marketing strategy based on the four Ps:

1. Define the product you want to market

The first part of the four Ps is the product itself, which could be a good or service. Successful marketers are intimately acquainted with the products they're promoting. The marketing team benefits from trialling the product or otherwise familiarising themselves with its features, strengths and weaknesses. This can help you understand what it's best used for, whom to target and what to focus on when marketing it. This is also important for comparing it to competing products, so that you aware of, and can market, its unique strengths and qualities.

2. Identify the customer

Once you've got a good idea of what the product is and what it does, you can start to determine who the consumer or end-user is going to be. A successful product is one that addresses a specific need within the market. This means there are consumers who want a particular thing that isn't being provided. Identifying who these consumers are is the best way to guarantee sales. You can use surveys, data and interviews to gather further information on these customers, if necessary.

This is also where the price becomes important. You want to make sure the target consumers can afford the product. You may find there are several consumer types to whom the product might appeal and their respective incomes levels can help you to determine which group to focus on.

Related: What is customer satisfaction?

3. Ask questions

Once you've understood the product and the target consumers, it's useful to utilise this information to answer specific, in-depth questions. You can base these questions on a combination of the four Ps themselves and the major question words, like 'who', 'why' and 'how'. This can help you develop an effective marketing plan that targets the right consumers. The more questions you can ask and answer effectively, the better your marketing strategy is going to be. Some examples of good questions include:

Product questions

You can ask these questions to better understand the product you're marketing:

  • What is the product's unique selling point?

  • What is the product's name?

  • How does the product differ from competitors?

  • Where are consumers going to use the product?

  • How can consumers use this product?

  • What are consumers going to expect from this product?

  • What is the brand trying to express in terms of style and voice?

Related: What are unique selling points and how to work them out

Price questions

The questions below can help you to understand pricing and affordability:

  • How affordable is the product?

  • Who is going to be most able to afford this product?

  • How much does the product cost compared to competitors?

  • What makes this product worth its price?

  • How much would a consumer expect to pay for this sort of product?

Promotion

Questions about promotion can help to define how and where to promote the product, such as:

  • What strategies are competitors using?

  • How can we ensure that customers remain loyal to this brand?

  • What online platforms are going to be most effective for advertising this product?

  • What days and times are best for reaching the target consumer?

  • How often can we advertise this product without being excessive?

  • What's the minimal amount of advertising necessary to raise awareness?

  • What media can be used? Is it better to focus on traditional or digital media channels?

Place

By asking questions regarding place, you can refine your marketing strategy further:

  • Where is this product going to be sold?

  • Is the product going to be sold primarily online, in shops or both?

  • Where do competitors focus their attention?

  • Where are we going to hold promotional events? Is this going to be online or in a physical place?

  • Where are consumers likely to search for this product? What channels might they use?

Related: Digital marketing skills: definition and examples

4. Develop an effective marketing mix

The questions you've answered can help you determine what to focus on and what to avoid. This is especially important when considering competitors. For example, if your product is more expensive than most competitors, it's best not to focus on price and instead communicate the quality of the product. This could be related to a guarantee or a higher-than-average lifespan for the product. You're also going to know when to market it, how you're going to do this and through which channels.

5. Test and review

Once you've developed your strategy, it's important to test it and review the results. It can also be useful to develop measures for changing or adapting your strategy after it's implemented, as competitors and consumers might react differently to your expectations. You can review the performance of your marketing strategy every few months and determine whether it requires adaptation or change, or whether it's performing well as it is.

Additions and alternatives

In addition to the four Ps, you might consider expanding on them or even replacing them with an alternative marketing mix. A couple of options you might consider are:

The seven Ps

You can add another three Ps to your marketing mix to make use of the seven Ps. The three additional elements are:

  • Physical evidence: A lot of consumers are interested in how the product is made, what it's made of and how it's packaged, especially if there are environmental implications. This is going to have different levels of importance based on the target consumer.

  • People: This refers to the people who are involved in the development and production of the product. This can be quite important when selling services or promoting a product that's produced in a certain location.

  • Process: The process is how the product is produced. This information can increase the perceived value depending on the product and consumer. For example, hand-made products might be more valued in some cases, whereas machine-made products could be more valuable in others.

Related: Marketer skills: definition and examples

The four Cs

If you'd prefer to consider an alternative marketing mix, you could use the four Cs. This is a consumer-centric alternative to the four Ps. Its elements are as follows:

  • Consumer solutions (versus product): Instead of focusing on the product itself, focus on a problem the consumer wants a solution to.

  • Cost (versus price): Whereas price is a fixed sum that's paid upon purchase, the cost can involve long-term costs like running costs, in addition to the cost of not buying the product.

  • Customer convenience (versus place): Customer convenience focuses on making the product as easily accessible as possible for the consumer instead of what's strategic or convenient for the company.

  • Communicate (versus promote): Whereas promotion can be a unidirectional act, communication can involve input from consumers and is designed to feel more like a conversation than traditional advertising.

Related:

  • What is a promotional mix and how is it used? A guide


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