Marketing 101 – the 4Cs of the Marketing Mix

Marketing / 31.05.16
Mark Vaesen

Let’s get right back to basics. What is ‘marketing’ anyway?

Generally, it’s a means of getting people or businesses to buy into whatever product or service you’re offering.

From a more academic viewpoint, the Chartered Institute of Marketing say that marketing is “the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.”

But how do you decide what to do to your marketing to try and leverage extra success from your efforts? It involves tailoring your ‘marketing mix’!

Defining the marketing mix

The ‘marketing mix’ is the name given to a number of key variables that are taken into consideration by marketers when working out how to position their campaigns for customers. It’s an essential part of both formulating and implementing a marketing strategy.

The 4Ps

The original marketing mix model, proposed by Jerome McCarthy in 1960, consisted of 4Ps – Product, Price, Promotion, and Place.

The 4Ps was revised in 1990 by Robert Lauterborn, who viewed them as a bit two-dimensional, only taking into account the company perspective.

The new marketing mix: 4Cs

With marketing moving very much into the digital sphere, Lauterborn took the original 4Ps and changed them into the 4Cs, giving them a more customer-centric slant.

  • Product is replaced by Consumer wants and needs. 
  • Price is now Cost to satisfy.
  • Place is now Convenience to buy
  • Promotion is now Communication.

Let’s break them down one by one.

Consumer wants and needs

Lauterborn’s focus on consumer wants and needs highlights the importance of looking for the reason why someone would buy your product. It’s all very well making a lot of products, but who cares if they’re useless and no-one’s buying them?

The best and most successful products give the customer exactly what they want and expect – not what we think they want.

This is about identifying the reasons people will be in the market for products or services such as yours and ensuring that you’re able to adequately meet these needs.

Generally speaking, there are three ‘levels’ a product has:

  • *Core product* – this is the rudimentary basic purpose of a product. For example, a car is expected to be able to get you from point A to point B. All cars sold should fulfil this purpose.
  • Tangible/actual product – this is where the core product is developed into something that a customer might actually consider purchasing. A good example of a well thought out tangible product is Apple’s iPod. There were a number of MP3 players on the market when it was launched in 2001, but Apple managed to design something that was perceived as a much better product. This in turn translated into a huge market share which they maintain to this day.
  • Augmented product – these are the extra things that can be offered alongside the tangible product to enhance the offering. This could be a warranty for technical goods, a free oil change for that new car you’ve bought, or exemplary customer service. These intangible extras can help create a strong relationship with customers that keep them loyal.

If you can make the tangible product and meet the needs of the consumer by improving the augmented product, then you’re well on the way to meeting the needs of the consumer.

One of the most important aspects of a product – tangible or intangible – is the brand. A strong brand can help differentiate within the market and be a useful marketing asset in itself.

Not sure if your business’ brand is up to scratch? Read our previous post on how to write an effective brand design brief.

Cost to satisfy

Setting the cost of your product is crucial, as this is the only part of the marketing mix that creates money. The rest involve spending money to set up, and are cost generators.

A product is naturally only worth what a customer is willing to pay for it. Throughout the process leading up to making the purchase decision, the buyer has been viewing all the aspects of the product; upon seeing the price they’ll determine if they deem it all worthwhile.

It would be assumed that lowering a price would lead to a higher volume of sales, but setting it too low could see the brand perception lessened, keeping buyers away. Moreover a higher price in some markets could actually generate extra sales, as people are looking for a ‘quality’ product that they’ll pay a premium for.

Cost has a key role to play in the perception of quality of the goods or services you’re selling. Everyone knows that it’s more expensive to fly with British Airways than it’s Ryanair, but there’s also an inherent knowledge that your journey with BA is going to be better.

The more you charge, the more the buyer will expect from your product.

Setting a price shouldn’t be seen as an easy task. It should depend on your business objectives:

  • Skimming is setting a high price to generate a large flow of revenue and positioning a product as quality. The price will make it worth buying for a segment of customers that are the least price sensitive. When skimming, the price can be lowered over time to consolidate the market share.
  • market penetration strategy is the opposite – setting a rock-bottom price to try and gain as many sales as possible and capture a large share of the market.

Your price point can also depend on the type of market you’re trading in.

  • If you’re in a monopoly, congratulations! You’re the only company, so you can set whatever price you want. In the real world, however, you’ll probably find there’s some sort of governmental department that legislates on monopolistic markets. The UK, for instance, has the Competition and Markets Authority (previously the Competitions Commission).
  • An oligopoly is a market with a few strong competitors, each with a big market share. If you’re in these markets you’ll probably be very careful about your pricing strategy, as any change can lead to repercussions in terms of competitive responses.
  • monopolistic competition market is where the barriers for entry to the market are quite low and there are many suppliers. Suppliers try to differentiate their product as being better so that they can justify higher prices or to have a larger market share than the competition. This could involve putting a spotlight on the augmented product to give you a competitive edge (e.g. you give a longer warranty on your tech product).

Pricing is a broad area and serves a number of purposes. The cost setting process should involve a good level of research – demand estimation, determining the price ranges and setting any top and bottom levels for pricing should all be considered before putting a value on your product or service that you think someone will be willing to pay.


Communication concerns the ways that a company presents to its market the features and benefits of their product or service. However, unlike the ‘Promotion’ element of the 4Ps model, ‘Communication’ takes into account the need to create a dialogue with customers.

There’s an element of give and take; take the use of Twitter for customer support. Many companies use this popular social media tool to connect with customers on a digital channel they spend a lot of time on.

It keeps the brand in their mind, and gives a quick and familiar means of connecting with them should they need to. Giving them the ability to give you feedback, whether negative or positive, will help you improve your business.

In terms of channels of communication, the rise of new technologies means that there are now *many* ways of reaching out to potential customers. Gone are the days of simple print and broadcast advertising.

The rate of change in marketing and promotion is progressing at such a pace that it’s vital that organisations have a process in place to keep abreast of relevant developments and, where possible, be able to act in an agile manner to them.

John Ellett describes the current state of marketing as ‘Marketing 5.0’, following on from the printing press (1.0); broadcast (2.0); the Internet (3.0) and then mobile technology and social media (4.0). He notes that there’s currently “unprecedented rate of change in the both the development of marketing tools and the escalation of expectations for better experiences from customers”.

Tools for communicating with your audience should be used in an effective manner to reach the relevant audience and communicate with them in a way they would expect. Therefore it’s important that some sort of audience research is done before starting a promotional campaign.

You don’t want to go too generic and force your message onto unwilling people – think of U2 and their collaboration with Apple to automatically download their album Songs of Innocence onto every iPhone…didn’t go down too well, did it?

For some cool examples of how to use one of those new promotional channels, see ‘3 ridiculously cool things you can do with targeted Facebook Ads’.

Convenience to buy

Only 10 per cent of the UK public don’t ever shop online.

*47 per cent *do most of all of their shopping online. Why? Because it’s easy!

Shopping online means you can visit your favourite shops at any time of the day. The idea of 9 to 5 opening hours is totally out the window these days.

This means that, where possible, you need to work on simplifying the purchase funnel for your product or service. How does your target customer shop, and how can you make it easier for them to buy?

You’ll also want to make sure that you have enough information about your product readily available when someone is considering purchasing.

If they’re on your website and there’s some vital information missing, they’ll simply use a search engine, end up on a competitor website that does have that information, and will complete their purchase there!

Focus on the customer

By putting a focus on your customer when tailoring your marketing mix you’ll be able to grow brand enthusiasm, increase customer engagement, and hopefully drive sales. Good luck!

For advice and guidance when building your marketing mix, contact the Tomango team for a friendly chat.