7 Ps of Services Marketing – Framework Limitations

The 7 Ps of services marketing is indeed a popular framework used by marketing professionals to design the critical dimensions of the strategic blueprint while marketing a service. The services marketing mix is dominated by the 7 Ps of marketing namely Product, Price,  Place, Promotion, People, Process and Physical evidence. In fact, the 7 P framework is one of the most popular framework for deciding a marketing strategy for services in domains like banking, information technology enabled services or hospitality and tourism, right from strategy formulation to actual implementation.

However, one needs to be aware of the limitations of this framework while applying it in a business context. So in this article, we will discuss some of the major limitations of this services marketing framework.

One of the major drawbacks of the 7 P framework is that it does not address issues related to productivity in terms of both quantity and quality of service delivery. In integral services management, improving productivity during service is a requisite in overall cost management; but quality, as defined by the customer, is essential for a service to differentiate itself from other providers. These two deliverables are essentially opposite to each other in terms of goals. A firm would want to pursue a strategy involving cost minimization but still quality maximization. Hence a strategy that manages trade-off between such conflicting goals is needed to be optimized.

Similarly, another major important issue is managing the core competencies embedded within a firm. Services are essentially intangible in nature, by its very definition. Processes like service delivery address only a small part of the larger cake. Drawing from the resource based view, the organizational competencies are not matched through this framework, which is one of the building pillars of developing strategic frameworks which are external in nature. The viewing of internal resources in silos is somewhat a barrier for this framework, if used to develop an actionable strategy.

Another limitation of this framework is that it does not provide a mapping between the pricing strategies that needs to be followed, vis-a-vis the productivized version of the service. That mapping is often one of the most important drivers that can create or break the adoption of a service. A mapping of pricing to the critical dimensions (features) of the productivized service draws its theories from the pricing of services, which are often done in silos, since dimensions cannot be identified which are in unision but not over-lapping to the main delivery. Over-lapping dimensions create a perception of fluctuating utility among the consumers, and since these are intangible, the overall valuation of the importance and value of a service, gets impacted in a major way.

Understanding the limitations of any theoretical framework before applying it to practical scenarios is crucial for the success of the strategic plan. Please let us know, what you feel about this article. By the way, did you read about the 8 Ps of marketing, the new age marketing mix?

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Arpan Kar

Professor at Indian Institute of Management
Dr. Kar is a Professor in Information Systems Management in Indian Institute of Management (IIM), one of the top institutions in Business Management education globally. He has extensive experience in teaching, training, consultancy and research. He has over 35 high impact publications. Prior to joining academia, he has rich experience in Cognizant Business Consulting and IBM Research Laboratory. He is the Editor of Business Fundas.
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