Management is a complex activity. To be able to deal with the inherent complexity of business most management advice is littered with simplifications—formulas, diagrams, matrices and other mnemonics help managers to create order in the chaos of everyday business life.
Marketing students at all levels of academia are indoctrinated with the concept of the marketing mix as the 4P-mnemonic: product, price, place and promotion, initially proposed by Jerome McCarthy.1 Other scholars have built on McCarthy’s insanely popular scheme, most famously Bernard Booms and Mary Jo Bitner proposed three additional concepts to account for the precise nature of services, i.e. people, process and physical evidence.2
The simplicity of this approach fuelled its popularity, and the 4Ps have become synonymous with the Marketing Mix. Most practitioners and scholars do, however, seem to forget that this system is merely a metaphor, a simplified checklist to aid marketers.3
There are serious issues with this simplified approach. Most importantly this seven pronged attack of the market seems to ignore the relationship between the organisation and the consumer, and that marketing is based on an exchange of value. The 7P system defines business from the organisation’s perspective and is as such severely limited in informing an enlightened marketing approach. More interesting ways to look at marketing focus on value and relationships and view the world from the customer’s perspective and are based on understanding the customer.
Jerome McCarthy (1960) Basic Marketing: a Managerial Approach. Homewood: Richard D. Irwin. ↩
Booms, B.H., Bitner, M.J. (1981 ) Marketing strategies and organization structures for service firms, in Donnelly, J.H., George, W.R. (Eds), Marketing of Services, Conference Proceedings: American Marketing Association, Chicago, IL, pp.47-51 . ↩
Philip J. Kitchen ed. (2008) Marketing Metaphors and Metamorphosis. Palgrave MacMillan. ↩