A product can be either tangible or intangible. A product has many dimensions. The most important of them is the core product or the basic aspect for what it is meant. For example the main purpose of a car is to provide a means of transport. The second aspect is tangible product. If a car has better mileage and comfort then it has more potential to sell than a basic car. Then comes the augmented product. Apart from basic engine and comfort if the car has airbags, music system and latest fuel injection system then it will attract more affluent customers. The last dimension is potential product which is about foreseeing future needs and planning to satisfy those needs. Let us take example of hybrid cars which give a glimpse of what future cars may look like. While planning to add some extra features no organization can afford to ignore the core product. If a car has all the comfort, music system and air bags, but it cannot move an inch then it cannot serve the basic purpose for what it is made.
Product management is about managing a product’s sales throughout its life cycle. If a product is in the launch phase then it needs a different kind of strategic input compared to a product which is in the maturity stage. Try to visualize the recent launch of Bingo by ITC. Everywhere you could have seen Bingo. It was everywhere right from the newspaper to the hoarding on the highway. Almost every retailer in the remotest street was displaying the yellow coloured rack stuffed with packets of Bingo. Compare it with the visibility of any old brand like Lux or Lifebuoy. If some brand variants are launched then you may happen to see some ad spots otherwise they are left to carry on their legacy. If you will compare ad space filled with promotional themes of a Hyundai i10 with that of a Hyundai Santro then you can easily understand the idea of product management.
Pricing is basically governed by the profitability targets of an organization. But there are many external factors which influence pricing strategy of a product. If the product is meant for mass consumption then there can be bare minimum profitability assured by it. If a product is meant for niche market then extra profiteering can be planned by the organization. Product innovation also governs pricing and sometime companies resort to skim the market in case of launch of an innovative product. When SONY launched VCRs then it was costing about $ 1500 and people were happy to pay that price.
Place is about making a product available to the end user thorough proper supply chain management. A company manufacturing a product in Himachal Pradesh cannot supply everything on its own to a customer in Tamil Nadu. To achieve that goal organizations take help of many intermediaries like C&F agents, wholesalers and retailers. For logistics management transporters come in picture. Once a product is on the retail self then presentation becomes important. You will not expect to find a Mercedes on sales in shabby showroom selling autorickshaw. Compare a jewellery shop with a grocer and you can understand the importance of display and presentation.
In the world of internet many businesses are conducted solely through internet. In such cases the showroom is in the virtual world. An appealing design with user friendly navigation becomes important to lure customers.
Once a product is made and supply chain is well oiled then comes the turn of cajoling the customer to buy a product or service. Marketing communication is about communicating a product’s features and resultant benefits so that the customer will be forced to buy the product. For products meant for retail customers communication requires the use of many platforms like newspaper, electronic media and outdoor advertising. For B2B selling the most widely used means of communication is one to one.
ATL and BTL: Above the line promotion is promotion by a media which ensures reaching the masses. This is like machinegun firing which does not have accuracy but it is still a potential weapon. All promotional activities involving mass media comes under the ATL. Below the line promotion is like hand to hand combat. Things like pamphlet distribution, consumer awareness programmes come under BTL.
In the normal course none of the way of promotion is sufficient or effective on its own. A proper combination of all means of promotion is required to make the desired impact.
Strategic Marketing is about long term planning to achieve long term business goals of an organization. The first step of strategic marketing starts with the environmental analysis followed by SWOT analysis. The environmental analysis is helpful in identifying present and future challenges and SWOT analysis gives an idea of battle readiness of the organization to meet those challenges. Once the analysis part is over then planning for all the 4 Ps of marketing is done. This planning paves the way for tactical or day to day implementation.
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