One of the first things that one learns in any B-School is the Kotler 4Ps – Product, Price, Promotion and Place. While broadly, this still stands for a lot of businesses, I do feel one needs to tweak the same given the heightened consumer activism and competition. To me the 4Ps of marketing as it stands today are

1. Profile
2. Profit
3. Personalisation
4. Permission

Profile: Heterogeneity amongst consumers has led to companies developing multiple variants of their products. Product offerings can vary at the simple feature level e.g. Standard accessories available when buying a car or at the complex platform level e.g. Petrol engines versus diesel engines. In the heady days of the product marketing, Henry Ford spoke about people buying cars in their favourite colours as long as it was black. Unfortunately, the same confidence would probably not work today given that consumers have over 50 makes of cars to choose from, not counting the multiple variants with each make. So if you don’t have a product offering for a particular consumer segment, you can wave that segment goodbye forever.

Profiling thus becomes relevant where the entire product strategy gets revolved around consumer profiles – from the macro-level segmentation based on demographics to the micro-level segmentation based on attitudinal and behavioural attributes of consumers.

Profit: Moving beyond just pure price and accounting profit, P for Profit refers to the value added to both the organisation and the consumer. This value in turn is based on such seemingly abstract but mathematically derivable concepts like customer life time value, brand switching costs and attrition propensity.

Personalisation: One message for all, that’s the general principle of mass marketing. However, we know very well that different people read and understand messages differently. They perceive value differently and there fore have to be communicated uniquely. That’s Personalisation. So consumers can be evangelised or scared or urged to buying Life Insurance for savings, protection or tax deductions respectively.

Permission: Finally, today, everybody is busy. They don’t have time. So if you want to do business with them, you need your customers to allow you to talk to them at their convenience. The days when one had to trudge to bank branch between 8:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. to withdraw cash have gone. Now, to maintain your customer base, the bank has to go to the customer through ATMs, Mobile phones or the Internet.

So that’s my take on the 4Ps of marketing. Let’s discuss.

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