Carlson Executive Education Blog

Yes, there are still four P’s in Marketing — But they have new meanings in our digital age

Posted by Ravi Bapna on Aug 25, 2017 9:01:53 AM
Ravi Bapna

Ravi Bapna, Curtis L. Carlson Chair in Business Analytics and Information, University of Minnesota

Digital technology has disrupted just about every segment of marketing, and the classic “Four P’s” are no exception. While they used to stand for pricing, product, promotion and placement, the power of social media marketing has prompted my development of “Four P’s 2.0,” which are participation, platform, personalization, and prediction. It’s now possible to look at the strategic and analytical aspects of digital marketing using the lens of both the old and the new Four P's. For example, an old P, placement, is no longer exclusively in a store, and also has significant implications for digital search. In the same way, modern promotions must take the power of prediction into account, with reliable ways for marketers to predict who will respond to campaigns and how to target them accordingly.

 Three days, two professors, many great insights

With so many new areas of focus, how can 21st century marketers keep track of an evolving digital landscape? This fall, I’ll be presenting research and insights on this topic in three-day course called Digital Marketing - Strategy, Analytics and AI. I’ll be joined as co-teacher by Professor Anindya Ghose, the Heinz Riehl Chair Professor of Business at New York University's Stern School of Business and the Director of the Masters of its Business Analytics program and author of Tap: Unlocking the Mobile Economy.

Product through participation: Starbucks’ example

Look, for example, at the “old P” of product. These days, it’s being increasingly influenced by a “new P,” participation. By that I mean that companies are taking cues on product innovation from the participatory comments of brand loyalists. They’re using the participation of the crowd to find their latest new ideas. One company doing a brilliant job with this is Starbucks. With, it actively solicits an outside, not inside, perspective. Tapping into the collective wisdom of the crowd through participation is a new tactic that has pros and cons, which we’ll discuss during the class.

Pricing innovator: Dollar Shave Club example

We’ll also look at another “old P,” pricing, through the lens of new platforms that are catching fire. It’s clear that many traditional companies are caught in downward price competition from online competitors. They’re engaged in price wars with companies touting newer business models, such as the highly popular subscription model. Companies like Dollar Shave Club charge a fixed monthly subscription fee as their pricing model, and consumers are responding. How do you price your product in this competitive environment, and how do you make a profit? That’s where the analytics come into play, and we’ll be diving deep into the nuance of smart analysis during our time together.

Am I leaving marketing money on the table?

The class has been designed for marketing leaders and professionals who want to learn about the latest best practices in digital marketing from across the globe. We’ll be looking at how the smartest marketers are pivoting in a changing landscape and what steps they’re taking to establish digital dominance. We’ll also dive into a bit of “growth hacking” to investigate what is possible for strategy and analytics the not-too-distant future.

Bottom line: We’ll help you uncover some genius new ways to use digital marketing and data, and we’ll give you the tools you need to ensure you aren’t leaving money on the table when you launch a new promotion or marketing initiative.

Not only will you get the benefit of two professors’ insights during this class, but you’ll have a chance to combine the best of both worlds, gaining insight into peer-reviewed academic research and highly effective case study examples from our own private consulting practices.

Will my head explode?

There will be a lot of information to cover, but I promise that the class has been designed to be delivered in digestible chunks and in a highly user-friendly format. It’s going to be an interactive and lively three days, with lots of classroom discussion that taps into the collective wisdom of your assembled classmates.

We’ve co-taught this course for several years, but in the past, it’s only been available at the NYU campus. The students who have taken the class have consistently given us great feedback, and they’ve been especially appreciative of our combination of hard science and practical application in a format much richer than the typical digital agency or consultant can provide.

Enrollment open now

I hope to see you in my classroom at the Carlson School this October. Feel free to contact me with any questions about the course at