Placement. Price. Product. Promotion. That’s a lot of P.
If you open up any dusty, old marketing book, you’ll see these four words glaring at you on the page. These four Ps were, and still are, used to educate and arm budding, bright-eyed marketers about to embark on a lifelong journey to sell products to anyone and everyone. They made sense then, and they still make sense now, but the method behind them has drastically changed.
If you’ve ever had the good fortune (extreme torture) of bringing (dragging) a toddler through a grocery store, you’ve fallen victim to a certain dynamic — a dynamic that digs deep into your pocketbook. It’s known as the cereal aisle.
The cereal aisle is full of options; options that promise to keep you regular, options that promise to wake you up, and options that will fuel said toddler for two months on one serving alone. Each and every one of those products are strategically placed. Think about it — all the bland, responsible, bran-filled options are on the higher shelves, while the mystical creatures, superheroes, and toucans of the cereal aisle are on the bottom shelf, in perfect reach of your toddler’s hands. That placement is no accident. That placement was very carefully considered and is a true testament to how product placement can make you walk away with more than you bargained for.
The Price Is Right
The minute you click Amazon’s homepage, you’re presented with insane bargains. Bargains that you, as just a mere human being, can simply not resist. Of course you need that llama power shaver. It’s marked down from $54.55 to $15.99, and sure you don’t have a llama, but llamas are really cute, so who’s to say that you aren’t going to buy a llama one day? Future you will thank past you for being so thrifty, because now you get to shave your pet llama for only $15.99. It’s really a disservice to you and llamas everywhere not to buy.
Consumers love a good deal. They want the best price, they want the best deal, and they want something thrown in as a congratulations for saving money. How often do you hover in the middle of the aisle as you jump onto Amazon to compare prices for the product in front of you? Amazon deals have become so notorious that they now have their own day, outside of the other capitalistic inspired holidays. These deals make consumers feel like they’ve just beaten some magical system and cracked the code; they’ve cheated capitalism. Good prices feel like they’re getting a valuable product for mere pennies — even if that llama shaver is going to sit in a drawer for twenty years.
When it’s time for a new pickup truck, it’s time for a trip to your favorite manufacturer’s website, where you’re presented with thousands of options. There are boxy trucks, sporty trucks, tough trucks, and patriotic trucks. With a million varieties of trim packages, you can choose exactly how your truck is going to look. You can embrace your patriotism with an American flag, customize your lift to make towing your boat easier, or install subwoofers to up your tailgate game. Your truck, in all its customizable glory, was meant for you. Sure, it’s 15k more than the base option, and your boat needs some maintenance before you take it back on the water, and your team spent the last two seasons losing, so you got rid of your season tickets. But none of that matters. Your truck is yours. It’s built for you. It’s a shrine to who you are — and how much products and their packaging matter.
Congratulations — You’ve Been Promoted
It’s a beautiful day, and you’re going to take advantage of that. Your truck is filthy and screaming for a bath. Your kids are asleep, and your wife is on Pinterest trying to figure out how many trips you’ll be taking to Home Depot this afternoon to build a tooth fairy landing dock on the roof. This is your time. This is your moment for peace and quiet, grime and grease, silicone products and rubber hoses. You’re doing your thing, scrubbing those damned love bugs off of the grill of your pride and joy, when you’re startled by a sidewalk spammer — the original influencer.
Stealthy like a ninja, the sidewalk spammer appears within your personal space in the blink of an eye. Interrupting your deep concentration and Saturday flow, you are now face-to-face with a very unwelcome sidewalk-spamming product promoter. He admires your truck, compliments your work, and proceeds to inform you about the deal of the century he has to rid your lawn of the elusive Chinchilla worm. This worm is a threat to you, your family, your pickup truck, your drinking water, the local fishery, the llama population (and then what good is your llama shaver), and your aunt Edna when she visits for Thanksgiving. This worm will ruin your life if you don’t act right now. The sidewalk spammer has a solution that you absolutely need to buy now while the service is deeply discounted. After all, this deal won’t last long, and you simply need this product.
Placement. Price. Product. Promotion. All of these things are still prevalent in marketing, but everything about them has changed. The method has changed, the shopping venue has changed, and the marketplace has transformed. Consumers no longer want the candy bar in the checkout aisle or the deeply discounted but entirely unnecessary toy; they want to know who they’re buying from and exactly how your product will change their life.