Imagine a scenario, a decade from now, with the rapid emergence of machine learning and AI and their applications in marketing. Detergent powders have penetrated into homes and there are several brands in the category that are advertising and innovating in order to build brand equity. Detergent pods are perhaps the leading detergent offering in developed markets (used in washing machines).
In India, it is not common to find washing machine brands advertising and endorsing powder detergent brands. Futuristically, the consumer may simply be interested in the fabric cleaning service as opposed to brands of detergents or washing machines. She can pay for the personalized service of getting a fabric care service. The types and offers of detergents, as well as the washing cycles will determine the price for the consumer when using the service in a personalized way. It is likely that there are service marks in the fabric care category.
An article published in Harvard Business Review offers a refreshing perspective on consumer relevance in the digital age. The updated 5Ps of marketing compatible with the digital age (which will justify the traditional 4Ps of product, price, place and promotion) are Purpose, pride, protection, partnership and personalization.
This will be a very useful perspective in establishing consumer relevance when so much is discussed about consumer relevance. Apart from personalization, the other Ps according to the authors of the article were drawn from Maslow’s hierarchical model, published in 1943 on human motivation.
Personalization will connect with other Ps. Incidentally, the article also reflects the need for marketers to think about digital marketing with a behavioral lens, while focusing on mastering strategic marketing based on the evolution of the environment.
The need for consumer relevance for brands in the Indian context
The article cites a source who established that brand loyalty programs, do not benefit 71% of consumers surveyed. Looking at the Indian context, giveaways and price discounts offered by e-commerce majors and large retailers have been instrumental in driving brand loyalty with respect to not only brands but also mode. respective retail outlet (online or offline).
With profits under pressure in conventional categories, companies and brands have opened several niches in the higher price segments (cookies, chocolates, cars, two-wheelers, watches, smartphones, hotels, on-demand entertainment services , organic products, health and fitness). services, healthcare services and credit cards are just some of the categories that are examples of premium and profitable niches).
While the contemporary P of marketing can’t be used “overnight,” it does provide a trigger of things to follow as the next logical progression in digital marketing. It would also require proper planning within the organization. And departments can be early adopters of the strategy.
Relevance of contemporary Ps that can leverage digital marketing
Consider an example, where a product-centric company used to signal to consumers that the product may be an offer within the service.
Over time, more consumers are likely to turn to the service (along with the product), rather than just buying the product as a standalone brand. Nike, the “Just Do it” brand has used the contemporary 4 P’s to become a formidable brand.
In 2006, it introduced Nike+ with in the iPod, which allows runners to track their fitness initiatives, communicate with other members of the community, compare their performance and use the service of several ways to monitor their physical condition. In 2017, Nike launched its Nike Consumer Experience strategy.
It is slowly assembling millions of online strategies while ensuring physical retailers are not left behind. It has the group of differentiated retailers (selectively and this includes both online direct-to-consumer retailers and offline retailers). Nike App, connects with 100 million registered loyal consumers to offer them several benefits that also differentiate through the use of the application. Nike aims to attract 300 million consumers by 2023 (December 2018 Forbes edition).
The point to note is that elements of the (traditional) marketing mix are driven by the contemporary 4Ps relevant in this digital age.
The five Ps are Purpose (aim to improve physical fitness), Protection (risk-free trust transactions), Pride (consumers are proud of their membership and this also carries a symbolic appeal associated with the brand), Partnership (the brand is literally a partner in the life of the consumer and his constant interaction with his consumers, gives the opportunity to know his preferences and his habits of use) and finally the Personalization which obviously connects the other P.
Importance of consumer behavior
The classics of consumer behavior associated with the subject have not changed; it is the context that has changed. While the context is Western, the example of Nike gives an indication of things to come.
The challenge for brands in emerging markets is to adapt to the context, using digital marketing where appropriate. Another important point of the example is that, while promoting brand equity, organizations must not only adapt to external environments. They must also ensure that strategic planning that includes internal restructuring also takes into account changing consumer behavior.
Theodore Levitt, the well-known economist, predicted decades ago that products would become part of services and that the service economy would likely be bolstered by digital marketing.
Will the new P mean the end of brand positioning and advertising with or without celebrities? The answer is “NO” (according to the author). Ads like the celebrity double ad of Lux (soap) with the nostalgic “Chand Sa Roshan Chehra”, will continue to target the minds of consumers, but not at the expense of digital marketing.
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