The last P

In a previous post, Marketing Basics - the 4 P's, I wrote about the marketing mix. The 4 P's were: product, price, place and promotion. By varying these elements a marketer can create a more appealing offering to a specific group of individuals (alternatively called a segment.)

The last P of marketing is concerned with how a product is perceived in a marketplace vis. a vis. other products. This concept is known as positioning. Positioning occurs when people identify a specific perception to a product. For example, Rolls Royce automobiles are viewed as some of the most luxurious and prestigious vehicles around. Once ingrained, these perceptions are extremely difficult to overcome. If you have a bad experience with a company you may tell all your friends about it and allow it to influence any future dealings you have with that company.

That is why company's spend a great deal of time and effort cultivating favorable impressions and counteracting activities that have undermined their market position. Do you remember what happened when there was a Tylenol scare at Johnson's & Johnson's in 1982? In brief, extra strength Tylenol capsules had been laced with fatal levels of cyanide. Many unfortunate individuals had taken Tylenol to relieve headache and fever symptoms only to receive a fatal dosage of cyanide. If you read Tamara Kaplan's write-up, you will see how Johnson & Johnson's was able to salvage their brand and maintain their leadership position.

One thing to note, product positioning will occur whether a company wants it or not. You can either allow the market to determine where a product will shake out or you can try to help influence the outcome. Using a marketing mix can help influence a product's position, however, nothing will compensate for a bad product. A lemon is a lemon after all.

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