In 2004, I wrote an article for Brandweek discussing a future in which the speed of commerce and the availability of "real time information" would lead to a decrease in price discrepancies for competitive products and increase the commercial importance of intangibles such as service, brand loyalty, prestige and celebrity. 6 years later, I'd encourage those in marketing to completely reevaluate all of the traditional "4 P's"
- It's no longer about PRODUCT, but SERVICE: Consider how Barnes and Noble concentrates on the entire customer experience both online and in stores; café's and comfortable couches, readings and special events, online book clubs and video author interviews... Is it an surprise that when Barnes & Noble reported Fiscal 2010 Third Quarter Financial results sales had increased b 32%?
- Not PRICE, but SOLUTION: With pricing information readily available and easier than ever to research and aggregate, competitive pricing is essential to survival but in a crowded marketplace, understanding the needs of the consumer and offering the best solution will ultimately win. Go to Google Shopping and enter a search for Adidas Mens Samba Shoes and you will get more than 1,000 options, a new pair ranging in price from $39.99 at Sears to upwards of $70 on the Adidas official site. While the same classic white/black shoe sells for more than $50 at Zappos.com, for Zappos customers, the shoes are simply part of the full experience and a customer centered culture.
- Not PLACE, but SIMPLICITY: While the old saying "location, location, location..." may not be nearly as important in a virtual world, the point of purchase must be easy to navigate, and efficient. It is no longer a hassle to go to another store if your experience is not satisfactory. And customers won't stay if they believe you are wasting their time. Barnes and Noble understands that well and while they boast to have the largest stock of online titles, they have also identified easy ways to provide the customer the precise books they are looking for-quickly and easily. A search engine enables customers to locate books by title, author, or keyword; browse pages to sift through hundreds of categories to find exactly the right book. Descriptions, reviews, and a "see inside" option, allow readers to make more informed decisions, without having to leave he site to do additional research. Simple check out, shipping options and even a quick order status button, keep it simple to do business at barnesandnoble.com
- Not PROMOTION, but SHARING: Promoting your product worked well with traditional media, but effective communications today focuses on engaging the customer and uses opportunities to share information, opportunities and solutions in a manner that will encourage them to become brand evangelists. Starbucks, for example, makes customer engagement is a top priority, soliciting customer ideas through channels such as Facebook and Twitter and even offering discounts to Foursquare Mayors and using social media to spread the word about more promotional events like the recent Starbuck's Happy Hour promotion.
While the "4 P's" still have a place in the marketing mix, I believe that new technology and methods for communicating with customers have changed sufficiently enough to warrant a review of how you are making your marketing decisions.
How has 2.0 impacted the execution, and even substance of, your marketing decisions?