17 August 2014

Combining The Marketing Mix 4P's with Rogers Diffusion Criteria

The Marketing Mix - 4P's Versus Rogers Diffusion Criteria

The 4P's marketing mix and Everett Rogers criteria for successful innovation are normally considered to be two different discrete systems of marketing. So in order to discuss how they can be combined to establish a combined marketing plan initially requires an explanation of each system.

Early adoption can kick start the diffusion process
Source: PhotoXpress

Marketing methods cannot be categorized as exact sciences, there are no set rules that will always work under all circumstances. Sometimes there is a need to respond to market conditions and to be flexible with respect to how product marketing is approached. That said there still remains a need to work within a framework that can provide a structure and purpose to marketing which can at least be considered reasonable guidelines that will ensure direction is given to any proposed campaign.

The Marketing Mix - 4P's

The 4P's marketing mix and Everett Rogers criteria for successful innovation are normally considered to be two different discrete systems of marketing. So in order to discuss how they can be combined to establish a combined marketing plan initially requires an explanation of each system. The marketing mix as defined by %u2018Kotler, P., 1984 is %u2013 %u201Ca mixture of controllable marketing variables that a company can use to pursue the sought level of sales in a target market%u201D. The 4Ps are used to categorise the many marketing variables that exist and to provide a structure under which thinking and discussion in relation to the marketing mix can take place so that sales strategies can be formulated. The 4Ps are: -
  • Product - the required features of the product
  • Price - what consumers are prepared to pay for a product
  • Place - where consumers are most likely to make a purchase
  • Promotion - what campaigns are most likely to sell the product
On the face of it, this looks very simple but marketing is a complex process and it should be acknowledged that besides the context of sales strategies the 4Ps also underpin and inform the process of market research and product design. Each factor can have an affect on another, influencing the decisions taken under that category

The Marketing Mix 4P's Explained

Rogers Diffusion of Innovations Criteria

Rogers focuses on the product more than the other aspects of the marketing mix, suggesting that if certain aspects of the product are correct and that the products can be seen or tried out then diffusion will take place as a result. Rogers%u2019 Criteria are: -
  • Relative Advantage - must have some advantage over competing or similar products
  • Compatibility - must be compatible with social expectations & related technology
  • Complexity - the easier a product is to understand the quicker it%u2019s acceptance
  • Observability - customers will be attracted if they can see the product and what it does
  • Trial-ability - customers will be attracted if they can use the product
Clearly then Rogers diffusion of innovation relies very much on the actual product both in relation to other similar products and the ability to see and trial a real item in a tangible fashion.

Everett Rogers Diffusion of Innovation

Comparing the Features of the 4P's and Rogers Diffusion

Combining the 4P's and Rogers Difussion

When examining each of the concepts there are clear signs of overlap where both systems have similar features, but there are also clear distinctions which would mean if one system was used in preference to the other then there may be aspects of the marketing mix which would not be covered. This suggests that they may be more effective if they were not totally discreet systems and in order to address all the controllable factors (marketing mix) both systems could be applied, consequently improving the chances of a successful innovation.

In other words by combining the two systems it is possible to create a more effective hybrid marketing mix whilst acknowledging that there will be aspects of each system that are common, aspects that are different and aspects that create potential conflicts.

It is the differentiation versus the conflicts that need to be measured against whether combining the two systems actually results in a stronger marketing mix program.

From the table above it is possible to identify the 3 aspects of commonality, differentiation and conflict.


1.What does it do = function
2.How well does it work = performance
3.How easy is it to use = Must be easy to use.
4.Does it look right = aesthetics
5.What image does it convey = status
6. Price = Price



1.Must meet the social norms of the potential purchasers
2. Customers can see the innovation and it's effects
3. Able to try out the product to see if it meets a need or want.


1.Right place at right time, either geographically or through the correct medium
2.Sales promotion Advertising Publicity Personal selling


1.Does it need to meet a standard versus compatibility with existing standards and technology

Examining the Conflicts

So on examining the features of each system it can be seen that there is only one point where one system potentially conflicts with the other and that is in the region of meeting existing standards.

A requirement of Rogers diffusion is that a product should be compatible with existing standards and technology but the 4P's asks the question 'does it need to meet a standard'.

Clearly this is open to a level of interpretation but it seems that maintaining compatibility, as per Rogers diffusion and if the statement is taken literally, would tend to rule out new ground breaking technological improvements.

For example the progression of vinyl records, to CD's to MP3 shows that there are occasions when new standards may need to be set in order to innovate a new and better technology. 

The 4P's on the other hand simply asks the question 'does it need to meet a standard', where sometimes the answer may be that no standard is required, another time there may be a need to create a new standard or of course there is always the option of adopting an existing standard.

However if you look deeper into Rogers theories you will find that he discusses new technology in terms of who will take up that new technology and categorises them as follows:
  • Early Adopters
  • Early Majority
  • Late Majority
  • Laggards
A large part of his premise is that by finding early adopters for a product i.e. people who are happy to experiment, perhaps pay a little more for new technology and be prepared to live with early teething problems, an innovation involving new technology can be kick started.

Taking this into account the statement 'compatibility with existing standards and technology' should be viewed a little more subjectively.

Examining the Differential

There are a number of differential points identified between Rogers diffusion and the 4P's and it is in identifying these that the shortfall of one system versus the other can be illustrated. It also demonstrates why combining the two systems into one hybrid system can establish a more effective and efficient approach to marketing. It is stating the obvious but if the shortfalls in each system are addressed by taking the hybrid approach then it is pretty clear that the overall innovation process is more likely to succeed.

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