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Product and Branding Decisions


Product and Branding Decisions

The marketing mix:

The marketing mix approach to marketing is a model of crafting and implementing marketing strategies.
It stresses the “mixing” or blending of various factors in such a way that both organizational and
consumer (target markets) objectives are attained. The model was developed by Neil Borden (Borden,
N. 1964) who first started using the phrase in 1949. Borden claims the phrase came to him while reading
James Culliton’s description of the activities of a business executive:
(An executive is) “a mixer of ingredients, who sometimes follows a recipe as he goes along,
sometimes adapts a recipe to the ingredients immediately available, and sometimes experiments
with or invents ingredients no one else has tried.” (Culliton, J. 1948)
Logic: Marketers have four tools to use to develop an offering to meet the needs of their targeted
customers. Collectively they are called the marketing mix. The “four Ps” of marketing are:

lace, and
romotion. Collectively these are called the marketing mix. More comprehensively
they are viewed as:
product, service, or program – something of value you are offering the customer, client, or park
price – what the customer, client, or park visitor pays (direct costs are financial, indirect or
alternative costs are such things as time it takes and the things people give up if they choose
your offering)
place, distribution, location, or accessibility – where the transaction takes place, perhaps in a
promotion or communication – this is how you inform the target market about the benefits in
your marketing mix
Collectively these are the tools organizations uses to develop offerings to satisfy their target market(s)
… the only tools at their disposal. Remember: If your marketing mix doesn’t meet their needs they will
not be satisfied – and if they aren’t satisfied you are unlikely to meet your objectives.
The marketing mix should be viewed as an integrated and coordinated package of benefits that reflect
the characteristics of customers and various targeted publics and satisfy their needs, wants, and
expectations. Note that the elements of the marketing mix should be integrated because each element of
the mix usually has some impact, direct or indirect, on the other three.
For example, if you improve the
product or service you probably have to change the price because it costs more to produce. Although
you may not have to change where the product is delivered to the customer, you will almost certainly
have to change the promotion or communication with the customer because you need to tell the
customer about the changes you have made in the product and how the changes will make it more
desirable and satisfying.
One problem in many organizations is that different divisions may be responsible for different elements
of the marketing mix. This happens even in well managed organizations. The result is that the offering
is confusing to the target market. Lack of communication among divisions makes this problem worse.
And if they don’t share the same view of organizational objectives, the problem is worse still.

The product, service, or program includes both tangible and intangible elements. The
tangible, of course, are those things that the customer can see, touch, feel, taste, or smell. The intangible

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include such things as the image of the offering … which includes the image of the organization making
the offering, the psychological aspects of pricing (high price to many customers is equated with high
quality – and vice versa).

The price is what the customer pays. It includes direct and indirect costs as well as opportunity
costs. The benefits of the product have to be great enough to warrant the price. Price includes all costs
associated with the product, service, or program.

The place is where the customer receives the product, service, or program. The place of delivery,
including all of its resources, is part of what the consumer buys. A place that meets his or her needs
better may be worth more. The place may be a park, a visitor center in the park, or an interpretive
exhibit along a trail. In setting its strategy, the organization must determine how much the target market
is willing to pay for atmosphere and physical resources of place.

Promotion includes all forms of communication you use to communicate the benefits of
your offering to the target market(s). The objective is to persuade the customer in such a way that he or
she recognizes that your offering is uniquely qualified to meet his or her needs. The term promotion mix
is commonly used to refer to the types of communication that are available: advertising, public relations,
personal selling, publicity, and sales promotion. Some authors include direct marketing. Word of mouth,
though seldom discussed, is powerful promotion.

Product: A part of the marketing mix:

Product is actually a complex, multidimensional concept. It is defined broadly enough to include
services, programs, and attitudes and includes whatever you are offering the target market in an effort to
meet their needs. It involves all tangible and intangible aspects of the good or service you offer your
target market. These are things which have value and are balanced against the value you expect to
receive from the target consumer. Product can also be interpreted as programs, activities, interpretation,
as well as services.

Product Mix:
Every organization has a product mix that is made up of product lines. Product lines
contain product items. Each product item is a product or service as well as the brand, package, and
services associated with it. There are six components as follows:
Services: Interpreters in visitor centers are providing an information service.
Package: In the product world this is the container. In the NPS world this could be the
surroundings in which a program is delivered. The atmosphere of a visitor center might be
considered the package in which the visitor center experience is delivered.
Brand: The brand is the identity (name or symbol or any other form) and all of the image
attributes that are associated with the identity.
Product Item: A distinct unit within a product line that is distinguishable by size, price,
appearance, function, or some other attribute. A guided hike along a particular trail might be a
product item.
Product Line: A group of products within a product mix that are closely related, either because
they meet the same need, function in a similar manner, or share some other characteristic.
Interpretation might be considered a product line.
Product Mix (assortment): the set of all product lines and items that an organization offers its
target market(s).

Product Life Cycle:
Products, services, programs, activities, etc., don’t last forever! They have
a life … and then, often, they die. Businesses have a clear signal … customers quit making a
purchase. But government agencies do not receive such a clear cut signal. Unfortunately, they

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can continue to offer these outdated programs, services, etc., and operate outmoded facilities
long after they should have been retired … and would have in the business sector.
The product life cycle is generally considered to have four stages:
Introduction: a period of slow program growth as it is introduced to the target market.
Growth: a period of rapid market acceptance.
Maturity: a period of a slowdown in sales growth due to acceptance by most of the potential
Decline: the period when sales turn downward because the offering no longer meets the needs
of the target market as it once did.
Not all products experience a full life cycle. Some never take off in growth. Further, the length of time it
takes a product or service to go through the cycle varies drastically. There are “staple” programs, for
instance, that will probably always be around. To guard against problems associated with continuing to
offer products, programs, etc., that no longer meet the needs of the target market, Edward Mahoney of
Michigan State University suggests a periodic audit of programs and services. He defines an audit as a
critical, unbiased review, from the customer’s point of view, at two different levels:
individual programs, facilities, services; and,
the mix (product line) of programs, facilities and services offered by an organization.
Offerings which no longer meet the needs of the target market are modified or withdrawn and resources
reallocated elsewhere in order to use them more effectively in pursuit of organizational objectives.

There are five product levels:

Core product – what the buyer is really buying
the problem-solving services or core benefits that consumers are really buying when they obtain
a product
Generic product – a basic version of the product
Expected product – attributes that combine to deliver core product benefits
quality level, features, design, a brand name, packaging
Augmented product – additional consumer services and benefits built around the core & actual
Potential product – all the augmentations and transformations that the product might undergo in

International product classification:

• Consumer products


• Industrial products

material & parts
raw materials
manufactured materials & parts
capital items
with installation & accessory equipment
supplies & services

New international product competition:

The new international competition is not between what companies produce in their factories, but
between what they add to their factory output in the form of packaging, services, advertising, customer
advice, financing, delivery arrangements, warehousing, and other things that people value

Product related decisions to be made by and international marketer:
Individual product decisions:

International marketers need to make individual product related decisions on the following aspects.
Product attributes
product quality – ability to perform its functions
• quality level
• consistency
product features
• customer value vs company cost
product style
• style
• function
– identifies the product
– grades the product
– describes the product (price, features, contents, methods of usage, expiry-date etc)
– promotes the product
Product-support services
– augment actual product

Product line decisions:

A product line is a group of products that are closely related because they function in a similar manner,
are sold to the same customer groups, are marketed through the same types of outlets, or fall within
given price ranges
product-line length
stretching downward
stretching upward
stretching both ways
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filling in the product-line
product-line modernization
product-line featuring
product-line pruning

Product mix decisions:

Product mix (or product assortment) is the set of all product lines and items that a particular seller
offers for sale to international buyers


A brand is a collection of images and ideas representing an economic producer; more specifically, it
refers to the concrete symbols such as a name, logo, slogan, and design scheme. Brand recognition and
other reactions are created by the accumulation of experiences with the specific product or service, both
directly relating to its use, and through the influence of advertising, design, and media commentary. A
brand is a symbolic embodiment of all the information connected to a company, product or service. A
brand serves to create associations and expectations among products made by a producer. A brand often
includes an explicit logo, fonts, color schemes, symbols, sound which may be developed to represent
implicit values, ideas, and even personality.
The brand, and “branding” and brand equity have become increasingly important components of culture
and the economy, now being described as “cultural accessories and personal philosophies”.
Some marketers distinguish the psychological aspect of a brand from the experiential aspect. The
experiential aspect consists of the sum of all points of contact with the brand and is known as the brand
experience. The psychological aspect, sometimes referred to as the brand image, is a symbolic construct
created within the minds of people and consists of all the information and expectations associated with a
product or service.
Marketers engaged in branding seek to develop or align the expectations behind the brand experience,
creating the impression that a brand associated with a product or service has certain qualities or
characteristics that make it special or unique. A brand image may be developed by attributing a
“personality” to or associating an “image” with a product or service, whereby the personality or image
is “branded” into the consciousness of consumers. A brand is therefore one of the most valuable
elements in an advertising theme, as it demonstrates what the brand owner is able to offer in the
marketplace. The art of creating and maintaining a brand is called brand management. This approach
works not only for consumer goods B2C (Business-to-Consumer), but also for B2B (Business-to-
Business), see Philip Kotler & Waldemar Pfoertsch.
A brand which is widely known in the marketplace acquires brand recognition. Where brand recognition
builds up to a point where a brand enjoys a critical mass of positive sentiment in the marketplace, it is
said to have achieved brand franchise. One goal in brand recognition is the identification of a brand
without the name of the company present. For example, Disney has been successful at branding with
their particular script font (originally created for Walt Disney’s “signature” logo), which it used in the
logo for go.com.

Brand equity
measures the total value of the brand to the brand owner, and reflects the extent of brand
franchise. The term brand name is often used interchangeably with “brand”, although it is more
correctly used to specifically denote written or spoken linguistic elements of a brand. In this context a
“brand name” constitutes a type of trademark, if the brand name exclusively identifies the brand owner

as the commercial source of products or services. A brand owner may seek to protect proprietary rights
in relation to a brand name through trademark registration.

Brand energy
is a concept that links together the ideas that the brand is experiential, that it is not just
about the experiences of customers/potential customers but all stakeholders and the idea that businesses
are essentially more about creating value through creating meaningful experiences than generating
profit. Economic value comes from businesses’ transactions between people whether they be with
customers, employees, suppliers or other stakeholders. But for such value to be created people first have
to have positive associations with the business and/or its products and services and be energised to
behave positively towards them – hence brand energy.
It has been defined as: ‘The energy that flows throughout the system that links businesses and all their
stakeholders and which is manifested in the way these stakeholders think, feel and behave towards the
business and its products or services’
The act of associating a product or service with a brand has become part of pop culture. Most products
have some kind of brand identity, from common table salt to designer clothes. In non-commercial
contexts, the marketing of entities which supply ideas or promises rather than product and services (e.g.
political parties or religious organizations) may also be known as “branding”.
Consumers may look on branding as an important value added aspect of products or services, as it often
serves to denote a certain attractive quality or characteristic. From the perspective of brand owners,
branded products or services also command higher prices. Where two products resemble each other, but
one of the products has no associated branding (such as a generic, store-branded product), people may
often select the more expensive branded product on the basis of the quality of the brand or the reputation
of the brand owner.
Advertising spokespersons have also become part of some brands.

Summary of the importance of a brand:

• International consumers view brand as an important part of a product & branding can add value to a
• A brand is a name, term, sign, symbol, or design, or a combination of above
• A brand is a seller’s promise to deliver consistently a specific set of features, benefits & services to
• A brand can deliver up to six levels of meaning

Brand equity:

The value of a brand, based on the extent to which it has;
high brand loyalty
name awareness
perceived quality
strong brand associations
channel relationships
patents & trademarks

Major branding decisions an international marketer needs to take:

• brand – no brand
• brand name selection
• brand sponsor
– manufacturer’s brand
– private brand
– licensed brand
– co-branding
• brand strategy
– new brands
– line extensions
– brand extensions
– multibrands
• brand repositioning

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