Marketing? Say that again!

Marketing? Say that again!

Sometime at the end of last century, it was a dark cloudy day and having dragged myself into class half-asleep, I still remember the marketing professor screaming the importance of the 4P framework into our heads.  A dull throbbing headache persisted with the question that popped in my head - “how is this relevant to my life?”. Little did I realise that after a decade and a half of leading a marketing career, the same question would come back to haunt me. Well its time to put that theory to rest.

Seems like the world has gone one full circle since then and maybe its time to reimagine the same in today's connected world. Lets take a closer look at the 4Ps again.

Nobody, including the consumer and her aunt, cares about the product. Companies launching a one-size-fits-all product are simply not cutting ice anymore. I would rather opt for a product that solves my problems or fulfils my need rather than a great brand that promises much and delivers little. Infact, I would want it personalised to some extent and even would like to have a say in the product design stage itself if possible, which in my opinion is not entire infeasible.

Marketers are waking up to the fact that audiences are indeed at-an-arms-reach for any interaction on social media. We are truly in a world of the segment-of-one where it is quite possible to make and deliver products suited to individual tastes and we see this happening even in the mother of all industries - the car industry. So much then for old Mr. Ford’s model-T.

Dynamic pricing has been around for some time now and in fact the world is moving to a place where cohorts of consumers may determine the pricing of a product or service in real-time. I am amazed every time I get into an UBER how the pricing varies depending on the time of day and number of available cabs in that area. Standardised fixed pricing is surely on its way out and evolving to maybe a function of value perceived and how much the consumer is willing to pay at that point of time, which often varies with each customer in a given context. What is even suspiciously good is that every time I use a competitor service, they immediately send me an offer to lure me back.

Place and Promotion need special mention here since it was long thought of as the ‘core’ area of marketing compared to product development or pricing. This is one area where quite a lot of technology intervention can have maximum impact but sadly very little is being leveraged. I still end up getting annoyingly great offers soon after I bought that watch or when I am travelling and no where in reach of the store. Today the right time and right place is so much more relevant, again owing to the internet, which by far has changed the basic premise of marketing as is quite evident. The other side of the story is that, with the plethora of options available today for any given category, it has left me more confused with information overload. It would help a great deal if marketers could for once cut the clutter and help or advise me on what would suit me best instead of bombarding me with their offers.

Technology and IoT in particular provides a great leverage to be able to read customer preferences and propensity to buy in real-time. I believe it is possible to make changes to the promotion mix that is hyper-relevant to the context of where the consumer is at any given point of time and what her interests are. Traditional media has been dis-intermediated to a great extent with the advent of mobile phones and IoT sensors. Customers are not only transitioning between online and offline seamlessly, but expect seamless omni-channel experience too. Real-time location and context aware technologies can only make marketing more dynamic and interesting than ever before.

I don't know if my smartphone is the culprit, but my coffee just got upgraded with a donut. We live in exciting times.

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