Are there 4, 5 or 7Ps of Marketing?

Published on 29 October 2014

Hello World. Welcome to the Business Hub. 

Here at The Office, we pride ourselves in the provision of state-of-the-art shared spaces, meeting rooms, serviced offices and support services that make running your business a little easier. And on this blog, we share answers to some of the most interesting business questions.

In our last post, about why location isn’t critical to only retail businesses, we touched on the Ps of marketing and decided it was a conversation that deserved a separate post. So here goes.

What are the P’s of Marketing?

Well in 1960, EJ McCarthy proposed a tool for defining the marketing mix; a set of variables to consider during the process of strategy formulation. These variables he termed the 4Ps and listed as Product, Place, Price and Promotion.

Product represents what satisfies the want or need of the customer, and can either be a physical good or a service. This includes all other advantages that the customer derives and determines your position among competitors. Place represents the location for production, sale, or both (as is the case in services). And as discussed in the last post, decisions on location are critical to the success of most businesses. Price represents the cost of the product. It takes into consideration the cost to you, cost of alternatives from competitors, margins and allowance for profits, and the value to the customer. Promotion represents all the activities that you undergo in order to spread information about your product or service, and get the customers to buy. This includes all forms of communication such as advertising and PR, across different media.

Since then, several attempts to expand the list have resulted in new models that consider 5 and 7Ps; with such additions as Profit, Processes, People, Positioning, Packaging, Physical evidence etc. Justifications for this expansion have been based on the shift to solutions-based marketing, dynamic consumer-oriented marketplace and the belief that the 4P model doesn’t take into consideration the difference between the marketing needs of physical goods and those of services. However, even among proponents of these models, opinions differ on the additional variables to consider. For example, while some 5P models add “people”, others choose “processes” and in some instances “profit”. And the same goes for 7P models or what is usually called the extended marketing mix.

Here, for example, are two interesting but differing views from Melinda Emerson and Brian Tracy on how to continuously evaluate your marketing plan/strategy.

Our view is that opinions will continue to differ on the model to use. And the question of 4, 5 or 7Ps will depend on the definitions given to each variable, viewpoint adopted, or whether the marketing strategy involves a product or service. For what it’s worth, the only constants in most of the lists have been McCarthy’s 4. Except of course you count Philip Kotler’s 2012 proposal that suggests “People, Processes, Programmes and Performance”.

Right! That’s it then. Hopefully we haven’t succeeded in confusing you further. In the meantime, what models do you prefer and how have they contributed to the success of your strategy?


Abubakar Abdullahi is Managing Principal at the The Front Office NG, where they help businesses, individuals and non-profits achieve sustainable growth through outsourcing and continuous improvement. He tweets @ab_bakr 

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