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4Ps of marketing

Last updated: October 2016

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What is marketing mix?

The marketing mix is one of the most famous and widely discussed marketing topics. A number of elements together constitute a marketing mix, however, Edmund McCarthy has identified the four key elements of the mix namely product, price, place and promotion. The marketing mix actually is the set of actions that companies develop and implement in order to promote their products and services to the target audience.

A brief history of the marketing mix

The term marketing mix was first used by Neil Borden back in 1949. However, Edmund Jerome McCarthy, a marketing professor at the Michigan State University and some others, is widely regarded as the architect of the first 4Ps of Marketing Mix concept. Booms and Binter suggested an extension of the mix in 1981 making it a total of 7Ps.

The 4Ps of marketing

This article focuses on the 4Ps of marketing mix as follows:


People buy products and services to satisfy their wants and needs. Products are tangible while services are usually intangible.  TV, computers, smart phones, tablets, shirts, trousers, and drinks are some of the products people use on a daily basis. Bank accounts, holidays, Facebook, Twitter, and insurance are some examples of services. There are two very important aspects of a product. Firstly, the key benefits a product carries for customers. Secondly, the key attributes of the product. A product has three characteristics/levels i.e. core product, actual product, and augmented product. Core product refers to the core benefits of a product. Actual product is the product itself developed in line with the core benefits. And any additional benefits that come along with the product is called augmented product.


Price is the means whereby an organisation covers costs of research, manufacturing, marketing and other activities (Lancaster & Reynolds, 2004). It is the only element that brings in money to the company. Marketing managers consider a number of factors e.g. cost, marketing objectives and market demand before deciding on the price of a product. Pricing has two main principles. Firstly, market penetration which refers to selling a product/service with a low price to secure high volume. Secondly, market skimming which refers to selling a product/service with a high price.


Place usually refers to where a product is available for customers to purchase. It is also called a channel of distribution. A distribution channel is ‘a set of interdependent organisations that help make a product or service available for use or consumption by the consumer or business user’ (Kotler and Armstrong, 2012, p.341). Customer convenience is one of the main benefits of this element of the marketing mix.


‘Promotion is part of a firm’s overall effort to communicate with consumers and others about its product or service offering’ (Lancaster & Reynolds, 2004, p. 270). A company may have a fantastic product/service, however, if it is not promoted well, the potential customers may not know about it. There are a number of media of promotion which companies may use for the purpose of communicating with their customers.

To sum up, understanding marketing mix is very important for marketing managers. It should be mentioned that marketing mix is not limited to 4Ps or 7Ps only. Marketing is an evolving discipline. As a consequence, the marketing mix now-a-days includes several other elements e.g. packaging, positioning and consumer behaviour.

Further Reading/References

Kotler, P. and Armstrong, G. (2012) Principles of Marketing, 14th edition, London: Prentice Hall

Lancaster, G. and Reynolds, P. (2004) Marketing, 1st edition, New York: Palgrave Macmillan

Author: Joe David

Joe David has years of teaching experience both in the UK and abroad. He writes regularly online on a variety of topics. He has a keen interest in business, hospitality, and tourism management. He holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Management Studies and a Post Graduate Diploma in Marketing Management.

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