Thursday, February 4, 2016


Most retailers are losing customers because they are stuck using the obsolete 4Ps of Marketing model. They need to rethink their business to reposition themselves using the 6Ps of Digital Marketing described here.

Marketers also need to understand what I call the 5Ws of Digital Marketing (which I will discuss in my next article ─ please check back here for that). But first, let's understand how the 6Ps have evolved. Some of this will be familiar to many, but please bear with me.

"New" 4Ps Updated the Old Model for the Internet Age

Way back in 1993, my book The Future Consumer forecast how the 4Ps marketing mix would be transformed (by what then was called “the information superhighway”) into a "New 4P" model, as follows:

  • Product becomes Mass-Customized Product
  • Place becomes AnyTime + AnyPlace 
  • Price becomes Total Value Price
  • Promotion becomes Precise (1:1) Positioning

That book was written before the Internet: the very first Web browser (Mosaic) came out the same year; Amazon did not exist. While the initial years of what I call the “Webolution” showed my “New 4P” model to be valid for the new era of online shopping, it soon became clear that modifications were called for. Therefore, my 2003 follow-on book Future modified Price and added two additional “Ps” as follows:
  • Online shopping also severely intensified Price competition, spearheaded by Amazon, dynamically driving prices down and making them much more negotiable. Hence, while the total value package of a consumer transaction was and remains a most-valid part of the mix, “Total Value Price” now needed be seen as “Dynamic Value Price”─ a price which could change instantly in real time.
  • In addition, high-touch/high-tech customer service became increasingly paramount in managing customer relations, whether in the click-n-order online world or the traditional brick-n-mortar store. Hence we needed a 5th “P” of “Personalized Service” to close the loop with product/service customization. Indeed, customization and personalization overlay all parts of this 6P mix.
  • As well, one over-arching goal of online marketing is to persuade the customer to “bookmark” your website as one of their “favorites” to which they will readily and frequently return. The “flow" experience of website design thus was and remains critical – much more critical than traditional product packaging and display, or advertising and promotion. Hence, I added a 6th “P” of “Profound Experience” (the "wow" factor) to the mix.
6Ps of Digital Marketing Captures the Essence of the New Marketplace

The resultant “6Ps” of Digital Marketing form two clusters (see diagram), as described below.

1. PRODUCT "VALUE" WEB (across the top), composed of:

  • Mass-Custom Product: Built on-demand, to precise custom specifications, often by the customer them­selves in real time, through personalized websites (e.g., assembling and ordering a Dell computer online). As well, content or information about the product is essential to engage the customer and, in essence, content is more important in the purchase decision than the product itself. For example, a car is a car is a car, unless you differentiate it based on what the customer is looking for and, most importantly, why. (Also refer to next article on this series on the 5Ws of Digital Marketing. 
  • Anytime + Anyplace Channels: Ordered and delivered from/to the customer’s choice of appliance (cellphone, tablet, or PC), to the doorstep, or to the local store (for pick-up), thus achieving maximum market reach and penetration. This is now called the omni-channel options and experience.
  • Dynamic Value Pricing: Priced in discussion with the customer, often through an online negotiation, bidding or auction process.
These three product-related “Ps” are self-explanatory. As shown by Dell or Amazon, these aspects of the mix can be highly-automated routine activities that the manufacturer and/or retailer is able to carry out at low fixed and variable cost. The main point is that the linear supply chain is a defunct concept.

Mass-customized products, e-channels, and dynamic pricing become interwoven into a “value web” that must function flawlessly and seamlessly in real time. It must be a truly friction-free interdependent network that the customer can take for granted as a reliable part of their daily lifetime and buying routines.

2. CUSTOMER "FLOW" EXPERIENCE (across the bottom), composed of:

  • Precise 1:1 Positioning: Real-time data collection and lifestyle profiling to leverage each customer's lifetime value to build “share of customer” via permission marketing. 
  • Personalized Service: High-tech/high-touch service to anticipate and enhance each customer’s “Web Lifestyle” needs and aspirations via personalized, customized lifestyle solutions. 
  • Profound Experience: Website design that optimizes the “flow” to ensure a “bookmark” on customer’s “favorites” list, and delivers a "wow" experience every time.
These three customer-related “Ps” require most attention from manufacturers, distributors, and retailers. In turn, these elements are causing dramatic shifts in marketing, IT, and advertising budget allocations. The Internet amplifies “word of mouth” through social networks. Hence, marketers must allocate most resources to the building of profound customer experiences across the entire social network domain.

To optimize the customer’s “flow” experience, much time and money must be invested in IT, Big Data, CRM, and website design – design that doesn’t just create a website but builds a meaningful, distinctive, and compelling online presence that almost automatically generates sales and after-sale satisfaction. It must "wow" the customer every time, flawlessly.

Real Time Digi-Marketing Success

The objective of the 6P Digital Marketing Mix is to enable speedy, interactive, personalized, ongoing customer relationships that accumulate both online and offline traffic and sales. This mix converges or blurs the lines between traditional marketing, sales, and advertising which, as separate functions, become obsolete. The objective is to focus holistically, through the Internet's always-on multi-medium, on what each customer experiences with the e-brand.

Marketing thus must occur in real time. Monthly or quarterly campaigns and related after-the-event sales reports are useless. Each customer is a real-time “market of one” and the “campaign” with each customer must be adjusted “on the fly” in response to each and every individual website interaction and transaction. Moreover, since the Internet is a self-segmenting media, similar customers will automatically re-segment themselves at least daily, if not by the minute, as their purchase profile changes in the virtual market space.

The “6Ps” also apply, of course, to all brick-n-mortar retailing. Offline and hybrid retailers alike must develop in-store formats that relate to changing customer “Web Lifestyles.” Customers want to “experience” products, as in an Apple store. Retailers must dramatically explode their offerings into every facet of the shopping experience, creating in-store “happenings” which converge relevant and valuable content or entertainment with the purchase process. In fact, they should severely de-stock if not eliminate “non-experience” product lines, or simply offer them through kiosks. In this way, they can combine local and virtual presence in a hybrid format to leverage high-touch products in a high-tech way – thereby creating a “flow” experience in their stores for all customers, especially those using mobile devices to browse and comparison shop.

As such, every sales channel – whether a website or a brick-n-mortar store – is a multi-medium. And it ought to be exploited as such.

The 6Ps of Digi-Marketing model captures the essence of the digital consumer marketplace. And when coupled with the 5Ws (discussed in the next article), the 6P mix virtually guarantees marketing and sales success.

Copyright 2016, Frank Feather.

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