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Marketing mix can be defined as a set of marketing tools that a firm uses to sell its products. It refers to a configuration of strategies that a firm employs by focusing on a particular market in relation to making its products available to customers. According to Kotler and Armstrong, marketing mix comprises the product itself, its price, distribution channels and promotional strategies (2009). Marketing mix presumes targeting a market with specific strategies or tools. It also presumes that the marketer has adequate knowledge about the consumers and other environmental factors or conditions operating within the market.
Marketing mix generally dictates the capability of a firm’s product to survive the stiff competition within the market, and to a larger extend the survival of the firm in the industry. Kotler and Armstrong warn that it is only those firms that can market their products effectively are capable of gaining competitive advantage of over other competing firms (2009).
There are dozens of marketing tools and techniques that a firm can use to market its products. These tools can be categorized into four major groups, namely: the product, price, place and promotion. These categories are often referred to as the 4P’s of marketing.
A product can be defined as anything offered in the market by producers or marketers for exchange and has the ability to satisfy human wants. A product can take the form of either goods or services. Goods are tangible products whereas services are intangible products. Goods can be further divided into consumer goods and industrial goods. Consumer goods are those products purchased for final consumption, whereas industrial goods refer to goods purchased for resale or to be used in manufacturing other goods. On the other hand, services refer to those products which are intangible. Their main characteristics include intangibility, inseparability, high perishability and variability.
More often, the exchange of products usually results into change in ownership of the product, especially for goods. However, in the case of services, there is no change of ownership of the product since the product (service) cannot be separated from the seller (service provider). Products exist in various levels, such as core product, actual product, augmented, potential and expected products. Examples of products include people, such as Michael Jordan, services like banking or hairdressing, ideas, such as family planning, organization, such as United Nations or American Heart Association, and places, such as Dubai Beach Hotel. Elements of a product include variety, product design, style, packaging, additional features, brand name and quality of services among others.
All products are subjected to the product life cycle (PLC), which includes the introduction phase, growth stage, maturity stage and decline stage. It is the responsibility of the marketer to identify the appropriate marketing mix tools to use at each of the stages of product life cycle in order to effectively meet the needs and wants of the customers.
This refers to a measure of the exchange value of goods or services. Price may also be defined as that cost, which consumers have to incur in order to obtain and use goods and services. Brassington and Pettitt define price simply as the amount of money that consumers pay for a product (2006). This cost must be reflected in the value or benefits that consumers are likely to derive from using the products. The pricing decisions of a particular product is affected by both internal factors, such as costs of production and external factors, such as demand and prices charged by competitors. Features of price as an element of marketing mix include the basic price list, discounts to customers, allowances, appropriate payment period and favorable terms of credit.
This refers to the distribution channels used by a marketer in ensuring that the consumers find the right product at the right place and time. It concerns making the product readily available to the consumers at their convenience. The distribution of products involves various players, usually referred to as middlemen or intermediaries, such as wholesalers, retailers and the producer’s agents. The selection of a suitable channel of distribution is affected by various factors, such as product features, company objectives and strategies, level of competition in market and marketing environment factors, such as technology, political stability and economic status. As a marketing mix tool, elements that constitute place include length of channels of distribution, market area coverage, distributor assortments, locations of product distributors, inventory and transport facilities.
Promotion refers to all activities, such as advertising, personal selling, direct selling and publicity that are aimed at creating awareness amongst consumers about the existence of a product in the market. It entails use of various promotional mix tools or strategies in communicating and informing the consumers about a product’s availability in the market. In most cases, promotional mix tools tend to induce or persuade the consumer to make purchases. Promotional mix tools make use of persuasive messages and language, and effective communication skills and techniques in inducing purchases. They target creating the need of purchasing a product amongst consumers. Elements of promotional mix include sales promotion, advertising, sales force, publicity, public relations and direct selling.
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Marketing Mix at the Coca Cola Company Limited
The Coca Cola Company is a beverage company that manufactures various brands of soft drinks and bottled water. The company was established in 1886 and has been the market leader in the soft drinks industry. Additionally, the Coca Cola Company is the leading manufacturer in the beverages industry as a whole.
In my opinion, the success of the Coca Cola Company can be pegged and attributed to its ability to appropriately design, formulate and implement effective and efficient marketing mix strategies that it uses to market its products. Below are some of the ways in which the company has effectively used marketing mix elements in gaining competitive advantage and leadership in the beverages industry.
The Coca Cola Company has been able to produce high quality products in various varieties. Currently, the company has more than three hundred brands of soft drinks and beverages which it sells in different market segments. By so doing, the company has been able to effectively meet and satisfy various needs and wants of its customers from different markets. Similarly, the company has developed a pool of high quality soft drinks, thus leaving the customers with a number of options to choose the best drink that would satisfy his or her wants. Similar, the products are packaged in various sizes such as 300 ml, 500 ml, 1 liters and 2 liters bottles. The Coca Cola Company also manufactures highly differentiated products that are easily distinguishable from those of its competitors.
The company has developed the largest portfolio of soft drink brands, for example Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Minute Maid, Nimbu Fresh just but a few to mention.
The Coca Cola Company charges various price for its soft drinks depending on their sizes. This implies that a consumer who cannot afford a 2-liter bottle of Coke due to insufficient money will still have an option of purchasing the less costly 300 milliliter Coke.
Additionally, the Coca Cola Company prices its product based on the market forces and characteristics, for example, through geographical segmentation of markets. According to Miller and Vandome, the Coca Cola Company also prices its products based on the competitors’ prices. It tends to charge lower prices than those of its competitors (2007). For example, the Coke brand costs a few dollars less than Pepsi.
The Coca Cola Company has adopted the extensive distribution technique to make its products available to all customers wherever and whenever they want a soft drink. The company has extensive distribution channels. This makes the products readily available all over the world. Coca Cola soft drinks can be found at the village shops, bus stations, in the food kiosks or food vendors as well as in international hotels. In my view, the company takes its products to where the potential customer may need them. Anywhere any time when you need a coca cola product, you will find it.
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Through well coordinated promotional strategies, the Coca Cola Company has been able to penetrate new markets as well retain higher market shares in already existing markets. Most TV stations in our homes are running Coke or Fanta adverts now and then. Through such repeated advertisements, the company has effectively kept on informing and reminding the customers of the availability of the Coke and Fanta brands, and other brands as well, including new brands recently introduced into the market. Through personalized selling strategies, the company has built strong mutual relationships with its customers.
In conclusion, it is important for producers and marketers to fully understand the market characteristics so as to be able to develop appropriate marketing mix strategies. They should strive at providing the consumers with the right products, valued at the most appropriate prices, make the products available and accessible at the right place by employing appropriate promotional techniques, just as shown above in the Coca Cola Company illustration. All products must have the right features and priced appropriately. Marketers should strive at creating demand amongst the consumers.
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