The marketing mix is a basic tool in marketing. Traditionally it is defined by four elements: Price, Product, Promotion (how will the product be marketed and promoted) and Place (where will the product be available and how distributed.) Market research has a key role in each of the 4Ps and thus in a successful marketing mix plan:
- Price: How do potential customers think about the value of the product? How do they perceive it in relation to other similar products? How elastic is the price? These are all examples of questions that can be answered by research.
- Product: Marketers must know their product: where it fits in the product segment, how long a life cycle it will have, where the product is in its cycle and how to organize the company’s mix of products among other issues.
- Promotion: Especially in today’s fragmented media landscape the marketer has complex decisiond to make about how to allocate budget to various promotional vehicles. Understanding the consumers of each media vehicle aids on those decisions and analysis of social media content offers additional perspective.
- Place: Where do potential customers expect to buy the product? Where are target customers spending time and making purchases? What is the path to purchase for the target consumer? These are all questions research can help answer.
In 2014 a Harvard Business Review study re-imagined the four elements to create the acronym SAVE. As described in an article at the time, the new marketing mix paradigm has the elements Solution, Access, Value and Education.
- “Solutions” are favored over products since consumers are more likely to think in terms of seeking a solution to their problem than imagining a specific product.
- The “Access” component encourages companies to meet customers at their point of need rather than expecting them to come to a designated place to find a product or service.
- “Value” shifts focus again to the consumer and what they will get out of the product, how they perceive its value.
- Finally, replacing promotion with “Education” enlists customers as co-creators and members of a community, offering relevant information to build trust even before a purchase is made.
Whichever marketing mix definition is used, market research provides the needed facts and opinions to allow construction of the right marketing mix model to meet the business need.