Understanding the 4C’s
The traditional 4P’s marketing mix was developed from the point of view of the organization. Each of the marketing mix elements relates to something that the firm needs to do to be successful in the marketplace.
For example, they need to develop a range of products to sell, they then need to set an appropriate price were the product will sell at a suitable margin, they then attempt to communicate the benefits of their products and place them in appropriate and relevant channels and retailers.
In recent years, however, marketing has become much more customer–centric. This means that modern day marketing, as highlighted in what is known as the marketing concept, is all about meeting the needs of particular customers (which we refer to as target market).
Because of this shift to a stronger customer focus, some academic writers and textbooks have modified the traditional marketing mix structure and reinvented it in the view of the consumer. As it is has become more important that organizations use “outside-in" thinking by focusing on the customer’s needs and wants, rather than their own goals when developing their marketing strategy and programs.
The 4C’s marketing mix
The four components of this customer-centric marketing mix are:
This component is in replacement of “product". Instead of being focused upon developing products, the firm needs to focus upon the needs and requirements of customers.
In the earlier days of marketing, firms would produce products that were easy or low-cost to manufacture and then try and seek out markets by heavily promoting these products. Nowadays, the value that a certain product or service provides to a customer is what determines the organization’s position on the market. As a consequence, the company needs to offer a solution to the customer’s needs and customize its product or services accordingly.
Cost replaces the old “price", by emphasizing the shift towards a consumer centered marketing strategy. The focus is on what it costs a customer to buy a product or service, instead of pricing a product for the sole purpose of organizational profit. There is a long term approach attached to the idea of cost, by also considering the maintenance cost of a certain product or service.
When studying marketing, it is important to consider that “cost" has broader perspective than simply money. Cost involves time, effort, stress and convenience factors. Therefore, a firm can reduce the costs of product acquisition to a consumer by making their product easier to obtain and providing a simpler process.
Convenience is similar to the original “place". But instead of looking for a range of retailers to sell and promote their products, these days firms need to look at the most convenient manner of getting their product to the end consumer.
In other words, the focus has shifted from the best distribution solution for the company towards the consumer’s convenience. This change was absolutely necessary along with the increasing number of internet and phone orders. E-commerce has become more and more successful and therefore many buyers purchase what they need from the comfort of their own home. Organizations need to adapt to this new trend by rethinking their distribution process.
Obviously, communication refers to the traditional “promotion". Most current marketing textbooks tend to use the words “integrated marketing communication", rather than promotion anyway.
It is in this element that we have seen the most important shift in marketing practice. Instead of a one-way communications strategy, organizations need to adopt a “listening and learning" approach. A relationship-based communication, defined as a two way system should be implemented in order to compete effectively. Traditionally promotion, where a customer would buy a product or service if he related to the brand’s message is no longer available.