The Internet and the marketing mix

Introduction

The marketing mix refers to usage of the four Ps of marketing which are Product, Price, Place and Promotion. All the marketing strategies are developed around the framework of fours Ps. With the advent and progress of service industry elements like People, Process and Physical evidence were added to the traditional marketing mix.

E-commerce is a great avenue for organizations to use the above marketing mix to their advantage.

Product

In the marketing mix product refers to services, brand or merchandise features around which strategy has to be developed. Any strategies around products are primarily based on market research undertaken by organization to asses’ customer needs and requirements.

Online marketing strategy can segmented into two parts, decision around the fundamental features meeting customer needs and additional features which are benefits above the core benefit.

For the fundamental features, the internet can be used to provide additional information about the product to existing and new customer base, for example online reviews, video, etc. Additional benefit could be providing a new business proposition, for example e-book.

For extended benefits, for example, in the computer industry, organizations provide instruction manual, base-warranty and technical assistant without any additional cost to the consumer.

The internet can be used to gather data from the customer for perception about products and service. This form of market research is of low cost compared to traditional approaches. Organizations can do this market research through online focus groups, web survey, feedback forms, blog etc.

Brand and product growth are almost comparable. So to develop successful online branding, organization should look to provide the following:

  • Easy, safe and convenient purchase experience.

  • Online customer assistant.

  • Personalization

  • Online support groups for technical and other requirements.

Price

The internet can influence the price mix of marketing strategy through the following:

  • Improved price transparency and impact on differential pricing.

  • Commoditization and price pressure.

  • Dynamic pricing and auction

  • Different pricing methodology

The internet has improved price transparency; therefore, it is important for organizations to understand the price elasticity of demand, before pricing decision.

Also with online retail, overheads are coming down for organizations without physical stores. This means online companies have an advantage over conventional shops. Therefore, the price is always facing downward pressure.

There are many different pricing mechanisms available. Online players like e-bay, etc have made some of this model very popular. One the most popular model is forward auction where products are purchased by the highest bidder and give specific time period.

Place

Place in the marketing mix referrers to path through which products reach the consumer. Organizations devise channels as to reach widest customer base at minimized cost. The internet has changed place element in the marketing mix. The point of purchase can be divided into seller controlled sites, third party hosted seller oriented sites, third party hosted consumer-seller neutral sites, purchaser controlled sites and purchase controlled sites.

Organizations are also developing websites which cater to the specific requirements of a country. These specific requirements can be around language, product mix and cultural difference.

The distribution channels have also undergone changes because of the internet. Organizations need to decide whether they will supply goods through intermediaries, or directly deliver to the consumers. Organizations can also adapt combination of intermediary and direct delivery.

Promotion

The promotion component of the marketing mix refers to the marketing communication strategy used by the organization for product and company advertisement.

The promotion element consists of advertisement, sales promotion, customer contact, public relation and direct marketing.

The promotion element mix is chosen by the communication strategy of the organization. The internet serves as additional and new communication channel through which it can connect to consumers regarding product features.

Organizations also need to decide at which stage of the purchase cycle, they should use the internet. Also, companies should explore as to which promotion component to use in the conjunction with the internet.

Organizations have limited budget through which they have to devise a strategy to choose a promotion mix.

People and Process

The people component of the marketing mix refers to interaction between staff members and consumer during pre-sale, sale and post sales activity. Some of the options available for organizing with the advent of the internet are auto-email response to queries, e-mail notification on purchase status, call back facility, online chats, frequently asked questions section, site search section, online purchase assistance, etc.

The process component of the marketing mix refers to process adapted by the company to co-ordinate all the marketing activities which are covered under price, place, promotion and people.

The internet has provided a variety of options within the marketing mix to devise current and long term internet marketing strategy.


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