Does the Traditional Marketing Mix Have a 5th P?

Andre Bourque Managing Editor -Technorati Media, Content Marketing Expert, SMT Board of Advisors, Technorati Media | Status Creative | Social Media Today

Posted on March 26th 2012

Does the Traditional Marketing Mix Have a 5th P?
Marketing Strategy

Anyone with a light background in marketing is familiar with the 4 – “P’s” of Marketing – Product, Price, Place and Promotion. Businesses use these four elements to model their marketing strategies. It's been a mainstay model and rule of marketing practice. But some of us suspect there's a "5th P," one that hasn't been as ingrained in business textbooks.

I'm not the first to propose a "5th P."  Brand Channel explored the idea that "participation" was the 5th P. Building off the thought that "passive one-way conversation between brands and consumers, has now turned into a mandatory active relationship." Similarly, the authors of Essentials of Marketing (2012) contend that the marketing mix should always be directed at target audiences (consumers), where the 5th P is "people." But I'm going to take another stab at it and suggest the 5th P is: Packaging.

Packaging as a Pillar of Marketing 

I know, I know, it's not nearly as popular, but it derives from a train of thought I picked up studying marketing in graduate school. One of my professors came from the world of retail, and specifically, the beverage market. He had some good points, about the role packaging plays in differentiating consumer experience of a product, and gave some great examples from the beverage industry.

I know many will argue that this "P" belongs with the "product" P, but I can'd help but strongly consider his suggestion time and time again when I run into examples like these, my all-time favorites.

#1 - Voss water. Have you tasted this stuff? Nothing unique about the "product" portion of it, for sure. But these sell for over $5 out in the nightclub scene.

#3 - Moo business cards. I love these guys and their product. And no doubt, their business cards are of stellar quality. But what drives me as a repeat buyer, is the attention to detail in the high-quality packaging.

#2 - Better Butter. I don't know what this tastes like, but it's butter.

These are merely three examples. But designers study this kind of thing.  In fact, here's a fantastic collection of inventive retail product designs from Bored Panda. 

Perhaps this 5th P belongs exclusively in the realm of retail products. I'll explore that further in another column. But there alone, I think it's worthy of consideration. Does the "product" P of the marketing mix encompass those packaging elements that distinctly distinguish some products from otherwise exact alternatives?

What are your thoughts?


Original post


Andre Bourque

Managing Editor -Technorati Media, Content Marketing Expert, SMT Board of Advisors, Technorati Media | Status Creative | Social Media Today

Andre Bourque (Social Marketing Fella) is the Managing Editor at Technorati Media. He is a contributing blogger here on Social Media Today, and sits on our Board of Advisors. Andre has held positions in technology marketing at Sun Microsystems, Intel, Web 2.0 startups, and most recently in the in-flight entertainment industry. He serves as a copywriter and content marketing strategy consultant for several firms and brands.

Available for content marketing and PR strategy. Email him here.


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The 4 P's of marketing takes me back to my college days. I must have answered this essay question 100 times in those days. I think that you have a great point but I, too, feel that packaging is in the P category product. When I think of product, I think of product as a whole the package included. Thanks for getting my wheels turning nonetheless. 

Good post and great examples of great packaging, but I have to go old-school and say that packaging belongs with the product. Any competent brand manager should recognize that packaging goes a long way toward product differentiation.  Having said that there are still way too many opportunities lost on undifferetiated, homogeneously packaged products, so maybe this will get them thinking.