In this chapter you have seen how businesses use the marketing mix to gain market share, enhance the value of their brand, and attract and retain customers in order to increase revenue and profit. Let’s take a final look at this from the perspective of the most valuable brand in the world: Coca-Cola.
Coca-Cola is sold in more than two hundred countries around the world and represents nearly 43 percent of all carbonated beverages consumed in the United States annually. About 1.7 billion servings of Coke products are consumed every day. The products that Coca-Cola has used to capture the thirst of so many people go far beyond that iconic red can of soda. In fact, Coke makes so many different beverages that if you drank one per day, it would take you more than nine years to try them all. Coca-Cola has a product portfolio of more than 3,500 beverages (and 500 brands)—everything from sodas to energy drinks to soy-based drinks.
The pricing strategy of Coca-Cola is what they refer to as ”meet-the-competition pricing”: Coca-Cola product prices are set around the same level as their competitors, because Coca-Cola has to be perceived as different but still affordable. Coca-Cola uses lower price points to penetrate new markets that are especially sensitive to price. They meet or beat the competition on price to raise brand awareness. Once the brand is established in the market, Coca-Cola repositions itself as the “premium” brand in comparison to its numerous competitors (Pepsi, for example). One way they accomplish this is by promoting a brand image of bringing intangible benefits in lifestyle, group affiliation, joy, and happiness . . . but the marketing strategy still focuses on an affordable premium product.
Coca-Cola has won a multitude of advertising industry awards for their innovative and effective promotional strategy. The promotions that Coca-Cola uses to further enhance its brand image and gain market share have included things like free hotel vouchers in Europe, Olympic sponsorship, the National Football League “Red Zone” promotion, and even “peel and win” stickers on Big Gulp cups at 7-Eleven.
Finally, the place, or distribution, of Coca-cola products is truly amazing. If you stacked up Coke’s 2.8 million vending machines, they would take up 150.2 million cubic feet of space—the size of four Empire State Buildings. But it’s not just the vending machines that matter. The company achieves its global reach with local focus because of the strength of the Coca-Cola system, which comprises more than 250 bottling partners worldwide. Coca-Cola manufactures and sells concentrates, beverage bases, and syrups to bottling operations, while it owns the brands and is responsible for consumer brand marketing initiatives. Bottling partners manufacture, package, merchandise, and distribute the final branded beverages to customers and vending partners, who then sell Coca-Cola products to consumers. All bottling partners work closely with customers—grocery stores, restaurants, street vendors, convenience stores, movie theaters and amusement parks, among many others—to execute localized strategies developed in partnership with Coca Cola.
What does this marketing mix result in for Coca Cola? The Coca-Cola brand is worth an estimated $83.8 billion. That’s more than Budweiser, Subway, Pepsi, and KFC combined.
This chapter covered the marketing mix in depth and the strategies companies use to develop effective marketing plans. Below is a summary of the topics covered in this chapter.
Product is the core of the marketing mix. Product defines what will be priced, promoted, and distributed. If you are able to create and deliver a product that provides exceptional value to your target customer, the rest of the marketing mix is easier to manage. A successful product makes every aspect of a marketer’s job more effective.
When businesses make decisions about pricing, they can adopt profit-oriented pricing, competitor-oriented pricing, or customer-oriented pricing. Customer-oriented pricing focuses on the price-value equation: Value = Perceived Benefits – Perceived Costs. In order to increase value, the business can either increase the perceived benefits or reduce the perceived costs. Today’s marketing tends to favor customer-oriented pricing because it prioritizes the customer and the customer’s perception of value.
Place: Distribution Channels
Distribution channels cover all the activities needed to transfer the ownership of goods and move them from the point of production to the point of consumption. These activities can be organized as five important channel flows: product flow, negotiation flow, ownership flow, information flow, and promotion flow. While channels can be very complex, there is a set of channel structures that can be identified in most transactions: the direct channel, the retail channel, the wholesale channel, and the agent channel.
Promotion: Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC)
There are many different marketing communication methods that can be used in the promotion mix. Integrated marketing communication is the process of coordinating all the promotional activity across these different methods. In this course you learned about seven common marketing communication: advertising, public relations, personal selling, sales promotion, digital marketing, direct marketing, and guerrilla marketing.