Marketing Mix Paper Essay

Introduction

            The goal of marketing is to create marketing activities and pull together fully incorporated marketing schemes to create, communicate, and deliver something of value for consumers.  The marketing mix consists of four variables that help with achieving this goal: product, place, promotion, and price.  This paper will detail the elements of the marketing mix, including the effectiveness of the implementation of each of the four elements.  An organization will be selected and a description of how each of the four elements of the marketing mix impacts the development of the organization’s marketing strategy and tactics.  Finally, a description of how a chosen organization’s marketing strategy impacts the success of the chosen organization will be reviewed.

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Elements of the Marketing Mix

            The marketing mix consists of four variables that represent a seller’s view of the marketing tools required to influence buyers.  Each marketing tool, from a buyer’s view-point, is designed to deliver a benefit to the customer.  Markets make decisions that help influence their final customers.  Markets can then create or customize a solution, inform their consumers, establish a fair and reasonable price that offers value, and determine a location for their product.

            The first component of the marketing mix is the Product.  The product is the actual, physical goods or services or variety of goods or services.  The product area concentrates on the development of the right product or service for the target market.  Some important characteristics to consider when identifying a product or service include features, benefits, design, quality, variety, accessories, installation, instructions, sizes, services, warranty, packaging, and returns.

            The second component of the marketing mix is Place.  Place concentrates on getting the product to the target market’s place in a timely manner.  Products will arrive at their customers through a channel of distribution.  “A channel of distribution is any series of firms (or individuals) that participate in the flow of products from producer to final user or consumer.”  (Perreault Jr. Ph.D., Cannon Ph.D., & McCarthy Ph.D., 2009, p. 36).  This channel can be brief, moving from production to final user, or it can be a lengthy process sometimes involving numerous companies.  Other areas involving Place include objectives, channel types, market exposure, kinds of intermediaries, kinds and locations of stores, how to handle transporting and storing, service levels, recruiting intermediaries, and managing channels.

            The third component of the marketing mix is Promotion.  Promotion conveys to the consumer what the perfect product is.  Promotion can focus on obtaining new customers or on retaining current customers.  Promotion deals with sales promotions, mass selling, and personal selling.  The marketing must understand how to adequately blend these three together.  Components of Promotion include personal, face-to-face selling, customer service, mass selling such as advertising, and sales promotion or the promotional activities other than advertising, publicity, or personal selling.  This can involve such things as using coupons, samples, events, catalogs, signs, and more.  Other areas involving Promotion include objectives, promotion blend, salespeople, advertising, sales promotion, and publicity.

            The final component of the marketing mix is Price.  Price is an important component of the marketing mix because if the customer does not accept it, planning is pointless.  Competition in the target market and costs of the entire marketing mix must be considered when price setting.  Customer reaction to possible prices must be estimated by managers as well as knowing the current practices regarding markups, discounts, and other terms of sale.  Other areas involving Price include objectives, flexibility, levels over product life cycle, geographic terms, discounts, and allowances.

            All of the four P’s are necessary in the marketing mix and should all be connected.  Not any one is more important that the other.  When developing a marketing mix, all decisions regarding the four P’s should be made concurrently, as they are all equally important.  It is also important to select a target market and develop a marketing mix, as these items are interrelated.  “It is strategies that must be evaluated against the company’s objectives – not alternative target markets or alternative marketing mixes.”  (Perreault Jr. PhD, Cannon PhD, & McCarthy PhD, 2009, p. 39).

Olive Garden and the Marketing Mix

                        Olive Garden is a family of restaurants providing a genuine Italian dining experience.  They serve delicious, fresh Italian food in a comfortable and inviting environment.  Olive Garden’s goal is to provide hospitality and 100% guest satisfaction.  The company was founded in 1982 and is owned by Darden Restaurants Inc., which is the largest casual dining restaurant company in the world.  The Darden family of restaurants features some of  the most recognizable and successful brands in full-service dining, including Red Lobster, Long Horn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze and, of course, Olive Garden.  Like any retail business, Olive Garden must create a marketing mix using the four elements in order to develop their marketing strategy and tactics.

                        As mentioned earlier, the term product refers to physical products as well as services.  Olive Garden’s products are the delicious Italian food and award-winning wines they offer.  Their passion for Italian cuisine led the company to establish their Culinary Institute of Tuscany in 1999, which is their own cooking school in Italy.  Olive Garden serves fresh, simple and delicious Italian food, complimented by a good glass of wine.  They offer a variety of dishes and are constantly adding specials to their menu for diversification.  To help their customers choose an entrée, their menu’s display colorful pictures of the products they serve.

                        Place is an extremely important element of the marketing mix to any retail store.  Olive Garden restaurants have a Tuscan farmhouse design inspired by the warmth and genuine hospitality of the Italian people.  Their restaurants are located in populated, easy-to-access locations such as near shopping malls and airports.  Olive Garden’s design team traveled to Italy to research their architecture.  The signature defining characteristics of Italian restaurants, such as the use of warm woods, subtle lighting and dramatic ceilings, were incorporated into the interior.  “From the time guests walk in the door, they are welcomed by a distinctively Italian decor that combines Old World Italy with a classic neighborhood trattoria,”  (Lohmeyer, 2003, para. 10).  The strategy is to make customer’s feel as if they are in an authentic Italian restaurant.

            The promotion part of the mix is something Olive Garden takes advantage of daily.  Olive Garden builds flexibility into their menu.  It’s a much more difficult way to operate but one that separates Olive Garden from other restaurants.  They are continuously adding different entrees to their menu in order to enhance consumer choices.  Their idea of a genuine dining experience is fresh, simple, delicious food, complemented by a glass of wine.  With that in mind, they created the Olive Garden Wine Institute.  Its aim is to provide Olive Garden managers and staff with a broader knowledge of wines so they may promote the wines to their guests.  Olive Garden is selling a feeling through food and the spirit of Italy.

            The final part of the mix, price, is also a very important component.  While Olive Garden continues to show solid results in an otherwise challenging market, external environmental factors could have a prolonged negative impact on their pricing.  The company conducted market research to ensure that entrée prices were value-priced and competitive.  One of the most economical items they offer is the $6.99 unlimited soup and salad meal.  Not only is there a variety of soups, they are delicious and unlimited, as well as the salad.  They also offer daily specials on a variety of entrees.

Organization’s Marketing Strategy

                Darden Restraunts Inc. has shifted its marketing strategy in 2010.  Although Olive Garden is already instrumental in creating a highly distinctive brand identity and a very loyal guest following, their focus will be on establishing a marketing structure that enables integration, innovation, and accelerated growth across all Darden brands.  The goal is to standardize best practices and capitalize on innovative brand-building opportunities.  Their changes have proven to be of benefit based on their most recent earnings.  “Darden (NYSE: DRI), based in Orlando, reported a net profit of $60.3 million, or 43 cents per share, on revenue of $1.64 billion in the quarter that ended Nov. 29, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. That topped a $59.7 million, or 44 cent per share, profit the year before on revenue of $1.67 billion.”  (Olive Garden parent reorganizes marketing department, para. 8).

Conclusion

            Marketing’s goal is to create marketing activities and pull together fully incorporated marketing schemes to create, communicate, and deliver something of value for consumers.  The marketing mix consists of four components that help with achieving this goal: product, place, promotion, and price.  This paper described the elements of the marketing mix, including the effectiveness of the implementation of each of the four elements.  Olive Garden was selected and a description of how each one of the four elements of the marketing mix impacts the development of the Olive Garden’s marketing strategy and tactics.  Finally, a description of how Olive Garden’s marketing strategy impacts their success was evaluated.

References

Kotler, P., & Keller, K. L. (2009). Marketing Management 13th Edition. Retrieved             from https://ecampus.phoenix.edu/content/eBookLibrary2.

Perreault Jr. Ph.D., W. D., Cannon Ph.D., J., & McCarthy Ph.D., E. J. (2009). Basic Marketing:            A Marketing Strategy Planning Approach {17th Edition}. Retrieved             from https://ecampus.phoenix.edu/classroom/ic/library.aspx.

Lohmeyer, L. (2003, January 6). Olive Garden adopts ‘downtown’ style with urban prototype.   Nation’s Restaurant News. Retrieved from            http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3190/is_1_37/ai_96338646/

Darden Concepts Inc. (2010). Darden.com. Retrieved from http://www.darden.com/about.

Olive Garden. (2010). Olivegarden.com. Retrieved from http://www.olivegarden.com/company/

Tampa Bay Business Journal. (2010). Bizjournals.com. Retrieved from             http://www.bizjournals.com/tampabay/stories/2010/03/29/daily15.html

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