4Ps for Products to the 7Ps for Services
and WOM Word of Mouth
While many focus upon the promotional aspect of the 4Ps model of ‘product, price, place and promotion’, research has emphasised that education marketing must use ‘7Ps’, not just ‘4 or 5Ps’. This would also include people, facilities and processes, thus broadening any analysis and perceptions of the market (Ivy, 2008).
Further, the ‘7Ps’ model was developed to account for differences in service industries versus sub-optimal ‘4Ps’ model for physical goods (Rafiq & Ahmed, 1995). The ‘People’ and ‘Process’ are very relevant for this research, as they focus upon need to communicate openly with target market through skilled personnel, while viewing marketing, communication and sales as a process, not an instantaneous purchasing event e.g. buying a consumer product or staple (Acutt, 2015).
There have been criticisms of this ‘7Ps’ model as being out of date, highlighting the need for new conceptual foundations and marketing methodologies representing today and tomorrow’s world (Konstantinides, 2010). With e-marketing, digital or internet-based marketing coming to the fore, there needs to be more analysis of consumer behaviour regarding brand experience, information search, brand familiarity and customer satisfaction, both rational and emotional (Ha & Perks, 2005).
More recent research suggests that the ‘complex’ student decision making process is viewed as rational economic action when in fact much is emotional and relies upon peers, influencers and related WOM to assess overall or general quality, plus more practical concerns such as immigration and visa (Nedbalová et al, 2014). How does a student or family access WOM based information and advice from peers and influencers leading to a study decision, possibly through student feedback and analysis?
Why is WOM Word of Mouth Important?
WOM is important in all communications, and for consumers to participate in social learning through WOM communication, the preference for many if not most (Campbell, 2013). WOM is related intimately with personal and cultural factors, with informal accepted as a significant communication channel of influence (Kotler & Keller, 2012).
Social networks and WOM rely upon users and friends’ reviews and comments, plus helping to generate positive and negative WOM, with ‘trust’ being very important (Barreda et al., 2015). WOM is also an essential element of digital or e-Marketing and SM, if not the most important, with a need to encourage interactivity and engagement amongst the target market about a product (Whitler, 2014).
WOM can now be carried further by social media, be leveraged for better marketing and communications, and it cannot be ignored, especially if negative. WOM carried digitally across borders amongst friends who may be informed significantly by personal or national culture considerations, whether differences or similarities.
Therefore, logically consideration may need to be given to cultural dimensions of marketing and impacts on strategy, differences or similarities? This will lead onto investigation of cultural dimensions and e-Consumer Behaviour – What do they do?
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Whitler, K. (2014) Why word of mouth marketing is the most important social media. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/kimberlywhitler/2014/07/17/why-word-of-mouth-marketing-is-the-most-important-social-media/#2f76616d54a8 (Accessed: 10/05/2017).