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THE MARKETING MIX Mobile Edition
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When firms decide to market products there are many decisions to make, each decision can have a long term impact on the success of the product. Market research at the beginning of the marketing process will help firms make many product decisions including product development, target market and pricing. In this article we cover common product decisions.
The design of a product can often be the thing that sells it, as this is the most obvious aspect of a product. Product design is key in the technology sector; examples include the iPad, the new Volkswagen Beetle (1997 - 2011) and the Dyson Ball vacuum cleaner (pictured below). Product design will be dictated by your target market. For example bright colours may be chosen to attract children, pink and pastel colours for female adults and dark colours such as black, navy, charcoal for male adults. Whereas consumers above a certain age may prefer design features that make a product easier to use more appealing than a design which is purely about aesthetics.
Product Features (and Benefits)
What features will you add that may increase the benefit offered to your target market?
We must remember that Marketing is fundamentally about providing the correct bundle of benefits to the end user, hence the saying ‘Marketing is not about providing products or services it is essentially about providing changing benefits to the changing needs and demands of the customer’ (P.Tailor 7/00) Marketing Definition
Philip Kotler in his book "Principles of Marketing" devised a very interesting concept of benefit building with a product.
Kotler suggested that a product should be viewed on three levels.
Level 1: Core Product
What is the core benefit your product offers? For example customers who purchase a camera are buying more than just a camera, they are purchasing memories.
Level 2: Actual Product
All cameras capture memories, therefore your aim is to persuade them to capture memories with your camera. The strategy at this level is to add branding, features and benefits which offer a differential advantage over your competitors.
Level 3: Augmented Product
This level is about exploring if there are any additional non-tangible benefits you can offer. Competition at this level is based around after sales service, warranties, delivery and so on. For example John Lewis a retail department store offers a free five year guarantee with television purchases. A five year guarantee offers their customers peace of mind that their television will be repaired or replaced should a fault develop.
A quality product is difficult to define as it will mean different things to each consumer. The challenge for all firms is to set their quality level and ensure that it meets the expectations of their target market. In general quality is made up of tangible features (features that can be seen) e.g. performance, appearance, strength and intangible features such as reputation and exclusivity. In all circumstances a product's quality should be consistent with other elements of the marketing mix. For example a premium based pricing strategy will require a quality product to support the price tag. To learn more about quality click here.
Product Branding (including internet branding)
One of the most important decisions a marketing manager can make is branding for their product. The value of brands in today’s environment is phenomenal. Brands have the power of instant sales, they convey a message of confidence, quality and reliability to their target market. A brand is a tool which is used by an organisation to differentiate itself from competitors. Ask yourself what is the value of a pair of Nike trainers without the brand or the logo? How does your perception change?
Successful brands are managed by dedicated brand managers tasked with growing and protecting the brand. There are many examples of firms bringing legal action against anybody that they feel is infringing their branding and the intellectual property rights associated with it.
Product branding has to work across all of the firm's trading and promotion platforms including retail shops, telephone, television and of course the internet. Internet product branding should compliment, support and protect your brand strategy. Your product's internet branding should be easy on the eye and make the most of any brand loyalty you have build via other sources .A firm's internet website should sell its products to consumers making the most of the convenience offered by the internet. For more information about the e-marketing mix click here.
Firms trading solely via the internet do not have the luxury of meeting customers in person so they have to build customer loyalty through excellent customer service and strong branding. For example the name of the website needs to be chosen carefully so that it captures what you are selling and your brand ethos. Within the UK comparethemarket.com (an insurance comparison site using meerkats in their promotional activity) have taken a unique approach to product branding and created a spoof website for their promotion meerkats. Take a look comparethemeerkat.com and For more on branding please click here
Market research should've revealed who to aim your product at. If you decide to aim your product at everyone your marketing will be known as undifferentiated marketing. If however your market research recommends aiming at specific sectors of the market you will need to segment (split) the market and select the sectors you would like to target. Marketing aimed at several sectors of the market is known as differentiated marketing, whilst marketing aimed at one sector is known as concentrated marketing. This link takes you to more information about market targeting, the advantages and disadvantages of undifferentiated marketing, differentiated marketing and concentrated marketing. It also provides you with examples for each.
How does the firm plan to position the product within the market? As the name suggests market positioning is about where you position your product in the market place, in comparison to competitor products. Firms will need to decide what factors to use for the comparison for example price, quality, features (number or type). Its important to select the correct features as they will impact on the consumer's perceptions about your product and your brand. For more information about market positioning click here and to learn how to draw a positioning (perceptual) map click here.
Every single decision relating to your products (and services) needs to be carefully considered, as it will impact on their long term success; attractive product design draws customers towards your product, product features differentiate it from the competition, whilst good product quality and branding strengthens the firm's reputation. After you've got all of that right its time to carefully select your target market and position yourself carefully in the market place.