Any Marketing 101 class will espouse the values of the 4 P’s of Marketing, or the “Marketing Mix”, consisting of Product, Place, Price and Promotion. However, the most important P may be one that isn’t traditionally included in this list: Perception.
Product refers to the physical goods being offered. This includes the product's design, its features and functionality and other tangible attributes. Place (or Placement) refers to the distribution channels where the product is offered i.e. online, in-store or through a dedicated sales force. Price is pretty self explanatory, but requires you to consider the profit margin required, the price elasticity of the market and where your product will be priced in relation to competitors. Promotion includes all methods of communication about the product, including advertising and public relations.
Although these four aspects of marketing provide a strong framework for marketing strategy, perception has become an increasingly salient piece of the mix as branding continues to play a larger role in marketing efforts. In fact, the entire concept of branding could be considered the art of shaping perception. A brand encompasses much more than just the company’s image; a clear brand identity sets the tone within a company, guiding operational decisions, customer service policies and company culture. However, consumer perception of a brand can make or break a company.
A company must focus on all aspects of the brand experience in order to ensure that consumers perceive the brand in a positive light. This includes advertising, customer service, packaging, product, etc. - Essentially, all of the 4 P’s listed above. The importance of brand has been amplified by the rise of social media as consumers have been empowered to shape others’ perceptions with a single post, tweet or shared photo. As a result, it is more critical than ever to consider all four P’s of the marketing mix as well as their effect on the other P: Perception.