The Place of Promotion in the Marketing Mix

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The promotion mix also known as marketing mix is designed to inform and persuade customers and potential customers of the merits of the product or service. It can place primary stress on any one of the promotion tools and relegate the others to minor roles.

For example, in promoting installations goods, such as promotion machinery, to a manufacturer, heavy expenditures may be made on personal selling, while relegating advertising, publicity, and sales promotion receive only token sums. Marketing is a discipline that is often misunderstood.

Some people equate it with promotion, while others view it as a tool designed to ‘sell things that people don’t really want’. However, this misconception is changing, driven by contemporary business dynamics that recognize the strategic nature of marketing.

The Place of Promotion in the Marketing Mix

Promotion is only basic element of the marketing mix. In contrast, the product packaged, price, promotion of service and goods are in the consumer market, advertising usually supplies the major promotion thrust, while other promotion tools assume secondary importance.

Other important parts are product, price, and place. The marketing mix for a product or service is created by blending controllable marketing factors into an integrated program for a particular period of time in order to secure company goals through satisfying consumer needs and wants.

The Place of Promotion in the Marketing Mix
FIGURE: Four Basic Parts of the Marketing Mix

The four basic parts of the marketing mix are interrelated, and all revolve around the potential consumer’s satisfaction as a focal point.

Each of these four basic parts is actually itself a mix, although subordinate to the total marketing mix. Thus, we can speak of a product mix, place mix, price mix, and promotion mix.

Each of these mixes must be properly coordinated and balanced to achieve an optimum marketing mix. Decisions on the promotion mix will influence the other elements of the marketing mix, and vice versa. They are interdependent and are geared to achieve stated marketing objectives.

Likewise, consumer packaged goods sold to the mass market normally depend upon advertising for the major promotion thrust, while personal selling, publicity, and sales promotion assume secondary roles.

The marketing manager must make rational decisions on these mixes in regard to a particular product or service.

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The Promotion Mix

Products are sold to consumers, middlemen, or industrial buyers. Consumers buy for personal consumption; middlemen for resale; and industrial buyers purchase products either to incorporate into their own product for eventual resale to others, or to help run their businesses.

The market for goods and services is often divided into the consumer market and the industrial market.

The table below indicates the relative importance of different marketing communications elements to the producers of industrial and consumer goods.

TABLE: Relative Importance of the Elements of Marketing Communications

 Industrial goodsProducers of: consumer durablesConsumer nondurables
Sales  management and personal selling69.2%47.6%38.1%
Broadcast      media advertising.910.720.9
Printed media advertising12.516.114.8
Special promotional   activities (trade shows, warranties, dealer aids, etc.)9.615.515.5
Branding and promotional packaging4.59.59.8
Other3.3.6.9
Total100.0%100.0%100.0%

Note: The data are the average point allocations of 336 industrial, 52 consumer durable, and 88 consumer nondurable goods producers. Nine responses are excluded because of point allocations which did not equal 100.

Source: John G. Udell, “The Perceived Importance of the Elements of Strategy,” Journal of Marketing, Vol. XXX11, No. 1 (January 1968), 38.

The characteristics of each market help determine the types of promotion that will be most effective.

The consumer market contains a large number of buyers who are widely scattered; consumer products are commonly nontechnical and standardized, and require little servicing and little help in buying; training or education on products is not expected; and the dollar amount of the sale is small.

These factors strongly suggest the use of advertising as the major promotion tool, while personal selling may be useful in contacting middlemen.

In comparison with the consumer market, the industrial market has a small number of buyers who are geographically concentrated; industrial products are commonly technical, are made to order, and require servicing and help in buying; training or education on products is expected; and the dollar amount of the sale is large.

These characteristics indicate the use of personal selling as the major promotion tool, while mass promotion tools assume secondary importance.

Thus, advertising is the most important promotion tool in consumer marketing, whereas personal selling assumes this role in industrial marketing. Sales promotion and publicity are normally thought to be of equal importance in both markets.

However, in specific instances, these generalizations will not hold true. Some companies have become highly successful by adopting unorthodox promotion mixes, especially in the consumer market. Fuller Brush and Jewel Tea are examples.

Read Also: Controllable Factors Affecting the Promotion Mix

Promotion to Wholesalers

The small number of wholesalers and their concentration in major distribution centers makes it economically feasible for manufacturers to emphasize personal selling.

Wholesalers are highly interested in demand and cost aspects of the sales proposition and want to know the promotion programs the manufacturer intends to aim at retailers and ultimate consumers.

Trade advertising, sales promotion activities, and publicity on new products are important, but salespeople can answer questions, adjust the offering to meet competitive conditions in various geographical areas, and create goodwill and understanding.

Consumer advertising in prestigious national media vehicles may also be of importance to the wholesaler as he attempts to judge the demand for the product or brand in his territory.

Case histories of other wholesalers who have successfully handled the product are likely to be of great importance in removing much of the perceived risk in taking on a new product or product line.

Promoting to Retailers

Personal selling is the major promotion tool used to inform and persuade retailers to stock and display the product. Retailers need to have a myriad of questions answered, such as the price and mark-up allowed by the manufacturer and the promotional assistance he will provide.

The part the retailer is expected to perform should also be carefully explained. Advertising in trade magazines is important in generating retailer inquiries to be followed up by salespeople.

Sales promotion activities such as trade deals and contests may also prove helpful in making initial sales. Mass consumer advertising to build brand preference, and heavy publicity support of new products, are often persuasive.

As in the case of wholesalers, the retailer’s trust and confidence in the manufacturer need to be built and maintained if a mutually profitable relationship is to endure.

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Determinants of Promotional Roles Assigned to Resellers

The roles assigned to resellers in a firm’s promotion strategy reflect six factors:

(1) Consumer buying habits,

(2) Nature of the product,

 (3) Amount of control wanted by the manufacturer,

(4) Availability of resellers,

(5) Reseller credibility, and

(6) Competitive practices.

Let us examine the effects of each of these on the manufacturer’s promotion strategy.

1. Consumer Buying Habits

This is the most important factor in designing a marketing channel. Consumers expect to find products at various types of retail outlets and at varying intensities of distribution.

Convenience goods are expected to be stocked in every logical, possible outlet, as consumers wish to buy these with the least possible effort and will not shop.

Consumers will shop for shopping goods (fashion and service goods) and wish to have a choice of colors, prices, styles, services, and so on, so these products can be distributed on a selective rather than an intensive basis.

Specialty products can be sold on a selective or exclusive basis, as consumers are brand insistent, will search out the retail outlet, and will buy with little or no comparison of alternative products.

2. Nature of the Product

The physical characteristics of the product and the way it is bought and used by consumer help to determine the importance of each of the marketing functions.

For example, a retailer may need to offer sewing lesions in order to move sewing machines, and surely will offer delivery and installation on the purchase of service goods such as refrigerators and television sets.

Some products are sold self-service by retailers, and their involvement in the manufacturer’s promotion program is minimal.

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3. Amount of Control Wanted by the Manufacturer

The manufacturer may want to have tight control over the marketing channel and relationships with the ultimate consumer, especially when he is protecting a quality brand name on a high-ticket item.

In such a case, he is likely to use selective or exclusive distribution policies and attempt to carefully control reseller promotions, prices, services, and so on, as in the automobile industry.

On the other hand, manufacturers may be willing to release responsibility and control for channel functions to resellers when selling an unbranded product or one that is low in price.

This is commonly the case with convenience goods, such as packaged goods found in most grocery supermarkets.

4. Availability of Resellers

At times, a manufacturer may find he has a very limited choice of resellers in a particular market because the existing distribution channels are almost completely controlled by competition.

In such a case, he can establish new channels of distribution or perform any necessary wholesale and/or retail functions himself. It should be recognized here that the manufacturer does not necessarily use the same channel of distribution to enter each geographical market.

For example, gasoline manufacturers sell through their own bulk- tank stations (wholesalers) to company-owned service stations in some markets, while working entirely through independent wholesalers and service stations in other markets.

5. Reseller Credibility

Reseller credibility is important when the reseller assumes a major role and responsibility for promotion efforts in his market and when the customer depends to a high degree on his expertise in the product line.

For example, authorized automobile dealers have higher credibility for repairs than independent garages; and jewellers are expected to know much more about jewellery than discount houses. Where reseller credibility is of importance in moving his product, the manufacturer should select middlemen with great care.

6. Competitive Practices

A manufacturer may wish to follow the competitive practices of his industry in designing his distribution channels and selecting resellers. Such practices have conditioned consumer buying habits to the point where consumers expect to have specific products carried by carried retailers who offer standard services.

However, at times, a manufacturer can gain a significant competitive advantage by distributing his product in an unorthodox fashion.

For example, plant food was sold almost entirely through garden- supply centers until Swift & Company gained a competitive advantage by distributing through food supermarkets.

Likewise, Timex watches led the way in distributing inexpensive watches through drugstores rather than jewellery stores. Many manufacturers have found it to their advantage to distribute their products through discount houses rather than traditional department-store outlets.

In conclusion, the totality of decisions he makes regarding these mixes is known as the marketing mix for that product or service.

An effective marketing mix will achieve company and marketing objectives and at the same time satisfy the needs and wants of customers.

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