The fifth P of marketing (Column)

Product, Promotion, Price, Place and... Purpose

A few months ago I presented to a group of marketing MBA students at Rotman at the University of Toronto.

Before I took the stage, they had another presentation on Marketing 101 given by one of the senior grads. The slides centered on the basics of marketing from definition, different disciplines, careers in marketing, etc. But, there was one slide in the deck that has not changed since the time I took my first marketing course more than 25 years ago: The Four P’s of Marketing. In case you forgot, let me refresh your memory on what they stand for: Product, Promotion, Price and Place.  The Marketing Framework of the classic four P’s is not only still studied today, but is the foundation of any strategy to launch a product or service.

That got me thinking… we’re missing a P. A rather important one.  This P should not only guide all marketing strategies and tactics, but take the lead in today’s conversations about brands. Purpose.

Thanks to the advent of social media, consumers today want more than the right product at the right price. We want to know what a brand stands for and how that will reflect on us.

Enter the fifth P of marketing.

Consumers today have limitless options to experience a brand before any kind of tangible interaction. This is where marketers need to connect with consumers’ hearts and develop a brand strategy – a true purpose – from the outset.

Smart brands have already been embracing the fifth P, and there are some great examples where the brand sell is more centered on purpose than product benefits or functionality. Social media has been driving much of that conversation.

Kellogg’s Special K: #ownit. I love the spirit and sentiment of the new Special K campaign, which ditches the diet conversation altogether. Similar to Dove, but a little edgier, here we have a bunch of women not liking what they see in the mirror: themselves. Kellogg’s message isn’t about their 100 calorie snacks, but rather feeling good about yourself, and accepting who you are. Own It.  And we love it!

Huggies: No babies unhugged. Huggies moves beyond a feature, function, benefit ad with diaper use, but instead designs a campaign around a revolution in caring for your baby. The power of touch is a nicely themed wrapper for the Huggies brand and goes beyond a pedestrian view of how much a diaper can hold.

Iams: Its newest campaign – titled “A boy and his dog Duck” – is so moving, I wish they would turn it into a feature film. Iams has played on this theme of pet ownership before, but this campaign is a real heart warmer. The long-form video shows a young boy who grows up with his chocolate lab named Duck throughout various stages of his life. Iams goes to the real purpose of pet ownership, unconditional love. Iams’ purpose goes beyond pet food.  Two paws up for that!

When marketers think about the higher purpose of a brand, the four P’s become much more inspirationally and intrinsically driven. When your brand’s purpose is clear and resonates, consumers will more likely buy into it, regardless of cost.

Even Justin Bieber’s new album is called Purpose….  I think we’re all on to something good.

Julie Rusciolelli is the president of Maverick

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