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Monday, December 18, 2006

The Rise of the '5th P of Marketing'

I'm sure that everyone is familiar with the 4 P's of marketing. In a recent paper, Brand Channel explores the rise of marketing's 5th P: participation. Building off the realization that "passive
one-way conversation between brands and consumers, has now turned into a mandatory active relationship."

The paper sites some interesting examples of forward-thinking companies that have embraced the 5th P and have started treating People (realizing that "consumer" is an increasingly obsolete term in an an era of rising user-control) as partners and active engagers with their brands, and not merely idle "consumers" who are content to watch :30 TV spots with eyes glazed over, when their is so much more interesting and stimulating content out there. While many are just beginning to test the waters, some companies have gone all-in and hedged their bets on the success of a new way of speaking with (and not "to") the People.

"This ‘consumer as creator’ movement has recently led to a number of high-profile, brand success stories, from:
1) Consumers designing their own sneakers (Nike ID –;

to 2) Letting consumers create their own brand communications (whether that’s ads for Converse –

or labels for Jones Soda –; to 3) Inviting consumers to go beyond the old school ‘letter to the editor’ way of voicing their opinion to being able to stretch and shape products and services through collaborating directly with the brand (Procter and Gamble’s interactive website works with influential mothers to help the company develop products and services that moms really care about)."

Another interesting example the paper highlights as a company that has embraced People's power over the way they interact with media and how they define relationships with brands is Al-Gore's TV network, Current.

"Current is handcrafted for today’s consumer. The entire network is focused on moving the viewer from spectator to participant by supplying them with all of the necessary tools they need to self-express, control, and share. If Tivo lets you control network programming, Current takes it one step further and lets you create the programming. Instead of calling it user-generated content, they instead call it viewer-created content or VC2. Right now, VC2 makes up about a third of the channel and is rapidly growing. We could be witnessing the next citizen journalism effort that will take a bite out of big media."

The paper closes with its 6 key tips on how companies can adapt to this new world media and "crash the consumer-controlled party" in a fashion that people will embrace:

1. Change Your View
It’s time to view your consumer as both customer and collaborator. Give them tools to create and share. Give them the option to work on their own or right alongside you.

2. Don’t Be Afraid.
Hey, if you’re a tad worried and feel a little out of your comfort zone, that’s probably a good thing. Embrace the fear. The only way you learn to take risks is by taking them.

3. Be Authentic.
Don’t hand over the keys to the kingdom and then take them back the minute your car hits a bump in the road. Consumers will cry foul on those that pose.

4. Pave Your Own Path.
Whatever you do, don’t become another ‘me too’ brand. Why did you get into the marketing profession in the first place? Strive to create a new experience or a ‘never been done before’ done promotional program.

5. Listen & Learn.
Let them know their opinion matters. Don’t fill their mouths with what you want to hear. Learn from what they’re saying and deliver the goods to them (COD is unacceptable, pick up the postage on this one).

6. Don’t Date. Commit Dammit.
This is a courtship. You can’t just go out on one or two dates with your consumer and expect them to fall for you. You’ll have to earn some respect through repeated action before you can win them over.

At around 11 pages its a pretty quick read if you have the time. When more traditional sources such as Brand Channel begin discussing in-depth the topics we see thrown around on planning/agency blogs, it may be a good sign that even some of the more traditional companies will start to take notice of a trend that is redefining the way they will need to interact with People in order for their brand/product/service to be relevant in the future.


Jason said...

Also, some (notably Robert Lauterborn) have said that the 4 C's of marketing are now more relevant than the 4 Ps. The 4 C's are:

1)Consumer (instead of Product) - Brands should make products with consumers in mind, not mass produce something just because they can..

2)Cost (instead of Price)- Brands should set pricing based on the cost consumers are willing to pay for a product, not based on margins.

3)Convenience (instead of Place) - With so many options available to consumers, products should be readily available, or else consumers will go elsewhere.

4)Communication (instead of Promotion) - Promotions are one-offish and not constant. Open, ongoing communication with customers is important in creating and spreading dialogue.

avin said...

interesting...might you have any info/data on the adoption of these new tenants in the business world? im curious to see if this is having some traction..