The extended marketing mix for services (the 7P’s)
Services marketing emerged primarily in the 1980s, as more developed economies became more reliant on services as part of their overall gross domestic product. (Please see the article on service firm examples to have better sense of types of industries that need to operate under the 7P’s.)
It was during this time that it became increasingly apparent that the original 4P’s marketing mix structure was too limited to cope with the broader requirements of marketing services, as opposed to physical product.
Because of the additional challenges involved in marketing services, some of which include:
• Lack of ownership
• Customer involvement
It was clear that a broader marketing mix structure would be required to effectively market service products – hence, the 7P’s marketing mix was developed.
By adding three characteristics of – process, people and physical evidence – we now have the extended marketing mix.
The 7P’s extended marketing mix builds upon the standard 4P’s structure, which includes: Product, Price, Place and Promotion.
The following section discusses the extra three elements in the extended 7P’s marketing mix structure for services. Please note that there is a separate discussion on the traditional and more modern approach to the marketing mix available on the Marketing Study Guide.
In the 7P’s, people refers to the staff of the organization. There are staff that will directly deal with customers – either in a sales role or in a customer service role. Think about a restaurant as an example, where the quality of service and interaction is important to the overall experience.
In marketing, process refers to the steps that the consumer needs to go through to acquire the product. A good example here is going to a hotel – where the process includes: booking the hotel, front desk interaction and check in, getting keys, using credit, transfer of luggage, finding the room and so on.
Physical evidence includes any components of the firm that communicates information about the quality of its offering. Pieces of physical evidences include: signage, business cards, brochures, equipment, building and retail design, staff uniform, website, advertising, and so on.