The importance of the 4P marketing mix

The importance of the 4P marketing mix

By Alexander Serre

Want to scale-up your company?

The first stage is to lay the correct marketing foundation that will help to accelerate your scale-up. In this article, we explain the importance of the original 4P marketing mix, that is the correct product, price, place and promotion.


A man sat down in a Washington DC subway station and started playing the violin on a cold January morning; he played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, as it was rush hour, an estimated 1,100 people passed through the station, most on their way to work.

Three minutes passed when a middle-aged man noticed the musician, slowed down and stopped for a few seconds, but then continued on his way so as not to be late. A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar, a lady threw the money without even stopping and continued on her way.

A few minutes later, someone stopped at the wall to listen to him, but looking at the clock, he resumed his walk. He was clearly late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3-year-old boy. Mom held him by the hand, in a hurry, but the boy stopped to look at the violinist. Eventually Mom pulled him out with more force and the boy kept walking, turning his head several times to look at the violinist. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced the children to continue.


During the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped for a moment. About 20 of them gave him money but continued at their normal pace. He took about 32 dollars. When he stopped playing and silence set in, no one noticed. No one clapped, and there was no thanks.

Nobody knew that this violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the most talented musicians in the world. He played some of the most elaborate pieces ever written on a $3.5 million violin. Two days before playing on this occasion, Joshua Bell had a full house in a theatre in Boston, where each seat costs an average of 100 dollars.

It's a true story, Joshua Bell performed incognito in a subway station at an event hosted by The Washington Post that was part of a social experiment on perception, tastes and priorities. The question was: in an ordinary place, at an inappropriate time, are we able to perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate? Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context? One of the possible conclusions of this experience could be the following: "If we don't take the time to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing beautiful music, how much else are we missing?

Relevance to marketing

This example shows the importance of the famous 4P marketing mix. They are Product, Price, Place and Promotion. By apprehending the 4Ps in different ways, the end result is not at all the same.

In this case the Product can be considered the same. It’s Joshua Bell. But maybe the product is actually the music.

Price is another important factor. The fact that the music was given free, with people offering to pay only what they wish, the value of the product is not properly defined.

The Boston underground is not the appropriate place for this product to be properly perceived as many people in that place may not appreciate the intrinsic value of the product.

The product did not have the appropriate promotion since nobody was told what the product was. That there been a sign indicating who the violinist was, this may have changed the appreciation somewhat, but not to the same extent as having the product performed in the appropriate place, which is the theatre, with the relevant promotion to the right people via the appropriate channels.

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