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Limitations of the Marketing Mix Framework

The marketing mix framework was particularly useful in the early days of the marketing concept when physical products represented a larger portion of the  economy. Today,  with marketing more integrated into organizations and with a wider variety of products and markets, some authors have attempted to extend its usefulness by proposing a fifth P,  such as packaging,  people,  process,  etc. Today however,  the marketing mix most commonly remains based on the 4 P's.  Despite its limitations and perhaps because of its simplicity,  the use of this framework remains strong and many marketing textbooks have been organized around it. Marketing decision variables are those variables under the firm's control that can affect the level of demand for the firm's products. They are distinguished from environmental and competitive action variables that are not totally and directly under the firm's control. The four marketing decision variables are:
  • Price variables
  • Allowances and deals
  • Distribution and retailer mark-ups
  • Discount structure
  • Product variables
  • Quality
  • Models and sizes
  • Packaging
  • Brands
  • Service
  • Promotion variables
  • Advertising
  • Sales promotion
  • Personal selling
  • Publicity
  • Place variables
  • Channels of distribution
  • Outlet location
  • Sales territories
  • Warehousing system

The above marketing mix is product focused. There is a customer-focused marketing mix which is known as 4C model. The elements are 4 C model of marketing mix are Commodity, Cost, Channel and Communication


The marketing mix of product marketing consists of 4Ps, the services marketing takes in 3 more P’s making the extending market mix for service industry: 7P’s


The additional 3Ps are People, Process and Physical Evidence. These additional 3P are required because of the special characteristics of the Service Industry. The product of a service industry is not tangible. The Service cannot be manufactured and inventoried but are often produced & delivered simultaneously. The service cannot be touched or felt but has to be experienced. The quality of the service is perceived quality and depends upon who is providing, when is providing and how is providing. The services are perishable and depend upon the people who are providing, the ambience where it is being provided and the way it is being provided. Because of certain characteristics like intangibility, inseparability, heterogeneity, perishability etc. Service industry needs additional marketing mix elements.


People decisions are particularly important to the marketing of services. In the services sector, in particular, people planning can be very important where staff have a high level of contact with customers. Marketing effectiveness is likely to be critically affected by the actions of front-line employees who interact with customers. While a car manufacturer’s employees may be unseen by its customers, a restaurant’s waiters can make or break the benefits that visitors to the restaurant perceive. People decisions call for close involvement between marketing and human resource management functions to answer such questions as: what are the prerequisite skills for front-line employees? How should staff be rewarded and motivated?



Process decisions are again of most importance to marketers in the services sector. The process of production may be of little concern to the consumer of manufactured goods, but it is often of critical concern to the consumer of ‘high contact’ services. A customer of a restaurant is deeply affected by the manner in which staff members serve them. For busy customers, the speed and friendliness with which a restaurant processes its customers may be just as important as the meal itself. Marketers must work closely with operations managers to design customer handling processes that are both cost-efficient and effective in satisfying customers’ needs.




Physical Evidence

Physical evidence is important in guiding buyers of intangible services through the choices available to them. This evidence can take a number of forms. At its simplest, a brochure can describe and give pictures of important elements of the service product—a holiday brochure gives pictorial evidence of hotels and resorts for this purpose. The appearance of staff can give evidence about the nature of a service—a tidily dressed ticket clerk for an airline gives some evidence that the airline operation as a whole is run with care and attention. A clean, bright environment used in a service outlet can help reassure potential customers at the point where they make a service purchase decision.



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