The Marketing Mix: Critical Essay

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In this essay, I aim to discuss the marketing mix, identify issues with its use as a marketing model/concept, and produce recommendations to reinforce my argument.

The marketing mix is a structure for the planned management of customer relations, including product, place, price, and promotion (Jobber, D., Ellis-Chadwick, F., 2020, p.783). Originally it was introduced when James Culliton depicted the marketing manager’s role as to be a ‘mixer’ of marketing concepts, though the concept grew in popularity when Neil Borden produced his article ‘The Concept of the Marketing Mix’ in 1964, and this resulted in the marketing mix receiving increased acclaim. In Borden’s first article, he included many concepts, including packaging, promotions display, and branding. The marketing mix as we now know it was not officially established until E. Jerome McCarthy grouped the concepts into 4 categories – the marketing mix 4P’s.

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The marketing mix has many established hallmarks that make it effective, this includes it matching customer needs. This means that in order to make logical decisions to best benefit the organization, the target market should be selected and analyzed. It is most beneficial to understand how and why consumers choose between rivals. Achieving or surmounting the expectations of the customer will lead to the business gaining a competitive advantage. Having a well-blended mix of marketing elements allows the organization to form a recognizable brand, for example, upmarket brands use exclusive outlets to match their intended image. The organization can alter its strategy to match its available funding or the capability of the management. As with all marketing concepts, its aim is to increase the organization’s competitive advantage. The marketing mix creates this by achieving noticeable differences from their competitors to provide a superior product, service, or purchasing experience.

The current American Marketing Association definition of marketing is: “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners and society at large” (American Marketing Association, 2020). It was approved in 2017. Up until the 1990s, the marketing mix was consistently featured as part of the marketing definition. Now the significant aim of marketing has become about customer value and how it can be maximized. The increased nature of marketing creativity allows for more flexibility for the business using it, including finance, management roles, and goals of the organization.

McCarthy (1960) explains how the marketing mix can no longer be considered a viable approach due to the ideas becoming limiting and restrictive. The marketing mix is recommended for organizations when they need help starting out or if they are going through complications with management or have financial dilemmas. The marketing mix was mainly used last decade and has since become outdated, no longer being the ideal marketing concept.

Another criticism of the marketing mix is that it can often lead to the organization making decisions that do not best support the company’s financial goals, instead making decisions with no regard for profitability. This may lead to displeased shareholders due to the fact they are not receiving an increased share value.

The aim of the marketing mix is one that is often debated. Some believe that it is focused on consumer markets, only concentrated on the consumer buying end of the product cycle, and therefore not optimized for business-to-business markets. Others believe that the marketing mix concept is ideal for product markets and discounts the problems of a service-providing business.

Due to technological advancements, the marketing mix is becoming eclipsed as new and innovative solutions are being introduced that are much more effective. Marketing in recent years has become more digitized, and this results in the marketing mix showing its age and being the more costly and time-consuming marketing option for an organization to select.

In an article for Marketing Week (2017), the chief marketing officer of Britvic, the company behind J20, Tango, and Robinsons, described the marketing mix as having ‘evolved’ and reveals that the organization is still using a version of the marketing mix concept. Having combined price and promotion, added communication and penetration, it exposes how although the old marketing mix is no longer a viable option for business, it is a basic framework that can be built upon to allow for growth.

A great example of a well-established organization using the marketing mix concept would be McDonald’s. Their capability to use the concept and how they interact with their many direct competitors. They operate in one of the most competitive and fast-paced markets, being known worldwide and having over 38,000 stores across 117 different countries (Wikipedia, 2020). Having a strong marketing strategy allows McDonald’s to be a global leader in its market segment and survive its strong competitive nature.

For a new startup organization, using the marketing mix would provide them with the basic, necessary framework they require. However, with such competitive markets and high consumer expectations, the company may promote a more spontaneous and fluid marketing strategy to cope with the fast pace environments.

Summing up, since the introduction of the marketing mix concept, there has been an exponential increase in the options of marketing concepts available to businesses, so the options for them to select one best suited have heightened. I have shown how the marketing mix originated, the benefits and issues of using it, and how companies are now moving forward and adapting to contend in the ever-changing, fast-natured environments they now compete.

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