Services Marketing Mix
As we discussed in the lesson on services, there are a series of fundamental characteristics such as intangibility, inseparability, heterogeneity and perishability which are unique to a service. The traditional marketing mix which includes product, place, price and promotion could be stretched to compensate for these factors. However the services marketing mix is an adaptation of the traditional 4Ps to address these characteristics and it sees the addition of another 3Ps which are physical evidence, process and people. We will also consider how the traditional mix alters for a service with sections below on pricing for services, product for services, place for services, and promotion for services.
(Physical evidence is) . . . The environment in which the service is delivered, and where the firm and customer interact, and any tangible components that facilitate performance or communication of the service.
Physical Evidence is the material part of a service. Strictly speaking there are no physical attributes to a service, so a consumer tends to rely on material cues. There are many examples of physical evidence, including some of the following buildings, equipment, signs and logos, annual accounts and business reports, brochures, your website, and even your business cards. Physical evidence lesson >>
(Process is) . . . The actual procedures, mechanisms, and flow of activities by which the service is delivered – this service delivery and operating systems.
There are a number of perceptions of the concept of process within the business and marketing literature. Some see processes as a means to achieve an outcome, for example - to achieve a 30% market share, a company implements a marketing planning process. However in reality it is more about the customer interface between the business and consumer and how they deal with each other in a series of steps in stages, i.e. throughout the process. Process lesson >>
(People are) . . . All human actors who play a part in service delivery and thus influence the buyers' perceptions; namely, the firm's personnel, the customer, and other customers in the service environment.
People are the most important element of any service or experience. Services tend to be produced and consumed at the same moment, and aspects of the customer experience are altered to meet the individual needs of the person consuming it. People lesson >>
Of course the marketing mix for services still needs to address the remaining 4Ps of pricing, product, place and promotion. Let's consider some examples of these four elements from the perspective of a service.
Pricing for services
Pricing needs to take into account two factors in relation to services. The first issue is what is the unit which we are pricing? Do we sell a hotel room based on its area or upon how long you use it for? Would you cost dental surgery by the amount of time you sat in the dentist's chair or by the actual procedure that was undertaken? Secondly if a price is based upon a bundle of sub services then how do you price it as a whole? An example of this would be an all-you-can-eat menu priced at a single point e.g. €20, or would you charge for each item on the menu individually and add-on a service charge?
Product for services
In this instance our product and service are pretty much the same. However as we have discussed our service is intangible etc. One-way dealing with this is to consider that: service = product + process. So we need to focus upon the process. For example when you arrive at a hotel people process you to ensure that you are registered and your baggage is taken to a room. This is an example of people processing. Another type of processing is possession processing, and an example would be where you take your dog to be groomed, or you organise a service for your car i.e. your possessions are processed. Both of these are examples of product in relation to service.
Place for services
Where you consume the service is a central part of the services marketing mix. With the place element the marketer considers convenience, location, footfall, number of outlets, and timing. Consider an event which takes place over a weekend. If you have a food trailer which sells organic salads to the public you need to make sure that you are actually booked at the event, that people will walk past your trailer and be able to stop and queue, and that you are able to sell to the people when they want to eat. Simply scale this up for businesses like Pizza Express.
Promotion for services
Obviously services are more difficult to assess in terms of attributes in comparison to tangible products. The marketer needs to be more innovative and clear when it comes to the benefits to the target market of his or her service. The marketer can try a number of techniques which include:
- Emphasising any tangible cues e.g. telecommunications companies will use symbols such as Mercury to emphasise speed. Burger King will use boxes and packaging which emphasise its marketing communications.
- Exploiting celebrity to provide information about the service. There are many examples of well-known public faces telling us on TV how they purchase life assurance or organise their final will.
- Branding is everything to service. Starbucks does sells coffee and cake but much of its offering is its service. Starbucks’ logo, its location, the ambience of their stores and the whole service experience is all part of the brand Starbucks. There are many other examples of this including KFC and McDonalds. Can you think of any more?