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The ultimate guide to marketing mix: 4Ps, 7Ps, 8Ps, 4Cs, 7Cs

Updated: Jul 30, 2022

What are the variables a company must control to successfully implement a marketing strategy for each target market? What does “marketing mix” mean, what are its different models and how can it help organizations?

In this article, you will learn how to use and master a marketing mix to improve your business’ bottom line. This is an evergreen concept in the #MarketingPlan and determines the right company orientation toward a marketplace.

Let’s get started!

Table of contents

  1. The 4Ps of marketing mix;

  2. The evolution of marketing mix: 7Ps, 8Ps, 4Cs and 7Cs;

  3. How to use marketing mix for successful marketing strategies.


The marketing mix is the pillar of a marketing strategy and consists of a series of tools to guide a company through the ups and downs of its industry.

It drives decision making during the whole process of bringing a product or service to the market.

There are many models of marketing mix that have followed over time.

Let’s see what they are and how they have evolved.

The first model was presented in Basic marketing: a managerial approach by American marketing professor and author, Edmund Jerome McCarthy, in 1960.

McCarthy classified various marketing activities and grouped them under four dimensions:

  1. Product;

  2. Price;

  3. Place;

  4. Promotion.

That’s why it is called the 4Ps of marketing mix.

The image below depicts the 4Ps of marketing mix according to the earliest formulation of McCarthy.

4Ps of marketing mix
This scheme breaks down the 4Ps of marketing mix according to Edmund Jerome McCarthy earliest formulation in Basic marketing: a managerial approach.


Product is what satisfies consumers’ needs and wants. It can be tangible (an actual product) or intangible (a service, ideas or experiences): what is being sold?

As you can see from the elements listed in the image above, it groups all the marketing decisions connected to the aspect, design and characteristics of a product/service.

What are the main components of a product?

Marketing and management of Kotler and Keller has identified five components that characterize a product.

The five product levels model
According to Marketing and management of Kotler and Keller, a product is composed by five elements: potential product, augmented product, expected product, actual product and core.

The five product levels model gives an idea of how much a company can improve a product:

  1. The potential product is what the product can become in the future. It includes all the upgrades and modifications that a business can make to increase its life;

  2. The augmented product represents all the additional services and goods like installation, complementary products, after-sales or customer service, warranty, shipping, credits…;

  3. The expected product represents the benefits and features the consumer expects. It changes according to each individual’s perception;

  4. The actual (or generic) product is the basic item with essential features. This element is fundamental for startups, because in their early stages they must generate profit as soon as possible and might not have time or resources to develop a full and accessorized product. In this case, it’s called minimum viable product (MVP): a simple version with just enough features to satisfy early consumers and provide feedback for future improvements. Examples of variables can be the product’s quality, brand, design, packaging, characteristics...;

  5. The core need and benefit is the main reason why a consumer should buy the product and represents the fundamental need or want to satisfy.

Let’s consider a hotel: the core is represented by a place to rest or sleep; the actual product can be towels, a bed, a bathroom and a closet; the expected product means taking for granted the presence of clean sheets and bathroom, a soft mattress and so on; the augmented product can be the Wi-fi, a free map of the town or room service; finally, the potential product can be made by placing new treats for guests in the rooms, including a spa or a gym and so on.

The same scheme may be shrunk in three parts and adapted for services:

  1. Delivery process: customer role, time, staff... ;

  2. Supplementary services: invoicing, order taking, exceptions, information, consultancy, safekeeping…;

  3. Core service: it is the principal, problem-solving benefit customers seek.

In 1999, Christopher Lovelock and Jochen Wirtz grouped the best facilitating and enhancing elements to service delivery in the Flower of Service model which is described in their book Services marketing.

The Flower of Service
The Flower of Service according to Jochen Wirtz: a core product surrounded by cluster of supplementary services.

Facilitating elements:

  • Information guides consumers in the purchase process and educates them on sales conditions, terms of use, pricing and other useful details needed for a mindful purchase.

  • Order taking is a critical contact phase between company and consumers, because it represents how the company fulfills transactions (quality of the experience during the transaction process). It includes constant feedback on transaction progress, questions or other problems. If a customer is left without feedback, they will soon become frustrated;

  • Payment is the transaction itself and determines when a prospect becomes a client;

  • Billing must be clear, precise and sent on-time. People want to know how, when and what they are paying for.

Enhancing elements:

  • Consultation includes all the distinguishing characteristics of a proper tailored consultancy: consumers want to buy expertise, knowledge and a quality experience;

  • Hospitality stands for the refreshments and comfortable waiting area, and all those attentions necessary to make customers feel welcomed;

  • Safekeeping represents a business capability to keep customers’ records safe and private. A safekeeping failure can compromise the trust between seller and buyer;

  • Exceptions are also critical in services, because they make clients feel special and increase their loyalty/bond to the brand.

What’s one of the most critical aspects to consider in the product dimension of a marketing mix?