4Ps are dead is DOA

Joint post with Kevin Gray, President of Cannon Gray, a marketing science and analytics consultancy. He has more than 30 years’ experience in marketing research with Nielsen, Kantar, McCann and TIAA-CREF. 

We’ve heard it claimed that the 4Ps are dead because (1) Product, Price, Place and Promotion are no longer an issue in today’s world and (2) marketing departments don’t control them anyway. For examples of such claims, see ‘the 4Ps of marketing are dead‘, ‘4Ps are dead. Here is what to focus on instead’, and ‘The 4Ps are dead because they are academic, not practical and more irrelevant than ever’

The 4Ps aren’t dead and won’t be until marketing is dead.  

To assert that product doesn’t matter is silly. Consumers can and do distinguish among products that may on the surface appear indistinguishable to some of us. Advertising a product with either 2 or 5 stars in Amazon Reviews has very different effects. Also, to claim that marketers play no role in new product development is to say you’ve never commissioned or conducted marketing research.  

Consumers respond strongly to price, which is why there are discounts and lots and lots of research estimating price elasticities for real and hypothetical products (think NPD). While it is true that marketers seldom have the final say in determining price, they do have a say and negotiations with retailers normally include price.  

Place doesn’t just refer to physical outlets and, moreover, there are (and always have been) many kinds of physical “places.” There are also many kinds of virtual places, including Amazon and mail order. The organic search rank of your product matters – just as its place on the shelf does in physical stores. The easier it is for consumer to find you, the easier it is for them to choose you. The mix of distribution channels will seldom be irrelevant in Fast Moving Consumer Good categories. 

Regarding promotion, advertising and other forms of marketing communication do work and continue to work in the “digital” world. Newspapers, magazines, radio, the movies, and TV all changed the game, as did mail order centuries ago. But the game is still played.  

“The 4Ps are dead” is Dead on Arrival.


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