Monday, June 25, 2012


The Six P's and Three Q's of Marketing


(An abridged and revised version of my paper TECHNOLOGY MARKETING - New Issues by Vikram Karve published in INDIAN MANAGEMENT Vol 37 No. 1 January 1998 pp 39 - 42)

The Law of the Hammer
“Give a child a hammer, and the child will use it on everything encountered.”

This is the law of the hammer and this seems to be the leitmotif of the technology marketing scene in the Indian context today. And, in many cases, this approach seems to be succeeding, at least in the short term.

The premise is that the customer is buying technology for technology’s sake, simply as a gimmick or to satisfy a perceived hedonistic need for novelty.

Addressing the human need for novelty is just one aspect of technology marketing, albeit an important one, and may yield rich dividends in the short term. 

However, a technological marketing strategy based solely on this approach is likely to be characterized by short market cycle, fast but unpredictable market penetration, and quick product obsolescence. This is because novelty needs change rapidly as new gimmicks become available.

Success with high-tech products requires a confluence of technical understanding and marketing skills.

The P’s and Q’s of Marketing
Marketing is something which the producer or manufacturer has to do, or get done; it is not conferred on his product as if by right.

Marketing can be defined as “getting into the heads of your customers, identifying what they want, and giving it to them”.

Marketing, therefore, is addressing a need or a desire.

In the case of conventional products, the general need or desire is well known.

With new technological possibilities, the need or desire that is addressed is not always obvious. 

Sometimes, new technologies may create new unforeseen needs which you cannot imagine while developing the technology and also new technology may be able to satisfy needs which you did not foresee (example: Cellphone [Mobile Communication and Signal Processing Technologies] - initially meant for wireless communication, now mobile phones perform a large number of roles ranging from communication to internet to gaming to music to photography to banking to social networking to computing - and new applications are being developed every day)

Therefore, in the case of new technology products, the technological marketer may have to take one step backwards to identify the fundamental role that his product can fulfill in the marketplace.

This fundamental approach can be modeled as “The P’s and Q’s of Marketing”.

The Six P’s are: People, Product, Place, Price, Packaging, Promotion.

The Three Q’s are: Quality, Quantity, Quickness.

The first step in technological marketing is to identify the role of technology in the new product, and hence, how the PRODUCT relates to PEOPLE.

Technology can have four roles in new products. It can be the product itself, it canincrease availability, can enhance distribution, and it can be present in the promotion.

•       The technology can be the Product itself. 

Technological inventions or innovations may lead to a revolutionary or exclusive which creates a dominant niche in the market [Examples: Mobile Phones (cell-phones), PC, Laptop, Walkman, Radial Tyre, Digital Technologies]

•       The technology can be in the Availability

A historical example is the gramophone record, which made available to the masses the virtuoso performance of the musical masters. People bought music. The technology is simply an enabling mechanism. Previously, the masses could have had access to some of the music only by attending live performances which was neither always feasible nor affordable. A more recent example Direct to Home (DTH) Television services. Thus, modern technologies make available desires that previously could not be met economically or practically.

•       The technology can be in the Distribution.  

For example, Internet has revolutionized the whole approach of marketing, banking [with instantaneous electronic transfer of money], with increasing online sales. Hence, it is imperative today that manufacturers design their marketing strategy keeping the Internet in mind.

•       The technology can be in the Promotion

The image of a traditional product can be subtly changed by the means of presenting it, using modern packaging and design technologies, combined with high-tech advertising, promotional, marketing and sales techniques.


1. Quality
2. Quantity
3. Quickness
The Q’s relate to the ways in which technology can transform the availability and distribution of products aimed at fulfilling existing human needs.

•       For example, in the Indian context, the advent of Japanese and Korean technology made possible greatly increased QUALITY of automobiles and two wheelers (motorcycle, scooters) and therefore has expanded the availability of efficient quality cars and two wheelers in the Indian Market. The same is the case with most consumer, entertainment and household items. The technological marketer can often identify an existing need or desire for quality goods, and use technology to develop a quality product for this wider market.

•       The QUANTITY of attractive jewelry has been expanded with technological developments in the production of diamond simulants like cubic zirconia. Other examples include Digital Storage Technologies, Digital Quartz Watches, Automation Technologies, Agriculture, Dairy and Food Processing Technologies. Technology can often make possible products for that mass market that emulate up-market consumption without threatening the elite market place.

•       Today, satellite technology allows sports events to be simultaneously observed on television throughout the world; in fact, it facilitates instantaneous worldwide video, telephone, or data transmission, which evidence the way in which technology can improve QUICKNESS. At first, messages could be transmitted and received by the postal service (transportation technology), then telegram (telecommunication technology) and now Satellite and Information and Communication technologies [ICT] have made the communication process instantaneous [real-time].  Microwave Ovens are another example of how technology can improve QUICKNESS.

A Model For Technological Marketing
Technological Marketing focuses on inducing substitution, or seducing the buyer to purchase the new product or service.

However, it would be wise to remember that seductive propositions can cause unplanned babies. In the technological marketplace unplanned babies take the form of unexpected outcomes that offer new and potentially exciting product and service opportunities.

“Unplanned Babies” come out of using technology to ‘modernize’ something that has a well-established place in everyday life. 

One very common example is the use of Automated Teller Machines (ATMs). 

The original idea was that machines would carry out the age-old cash dispensing function more efficiently. (Technology would replace Human Beings in carrying out the “difficult” and laborious task of counting and dispensing money).

The initial aim of the ATM was to use new technology to automate an old function carried out manually by bank tellerscash dispensing

Yes, ATMs were conceived to do automatically the job of cash dispensing that tellers in banks did manually - that is why this new machine was were called the Automated Teller Machine (ATM).

A new way of doing things is always subtly different from what has been done before.

ATMs changed two things:

1. Where the cash was available (anywhere and everywhere)
2. When cash was available (round the clock)

These two aspects caused a fundamental change in the utility of the service received by customers. For the first time they could get cash 24/7 round the clock, off working hours, and away from bank premises. This indeed was a major new bank service. 

The customers were so delighted, demanded more and more and the banks were totally taken aback – they had not foreseen that automated cash dispensing machines could in fact produce new services and they kept on enhancing value-added-services to the ATMs.

ATMs are now seen to be much more than mere cash dispensing machines. Customers use ATMs to recharge their mobile phone pre-paid connections, pay their utility bills, even mutual fund transactions – making them at par with flexibility given in internet banking – only more secure. In fact ATMs have become mini banks and you can perform all imaginable transactions from an ATM.

ATM Technology is an example of a new technology used for the old purpose giving rise to a new market situation

Microprocessor technology, VLSI and Nano Technologies are other examples of unexpected multi-dimensional changes leading to a large range of new products embodying multifarious market desires.

The progressive marketer stands back, looks at such a situation from a distance and reappraises it objectively, since it gives him the opportunity to get a much deeper understanding of the real needs and desires of the market-place. 

In a nutshell, technology marketing comprises analyzing existing market demands, addressing these existing demands through technology, reappraising and redefining market needs and desires in the light of response to new technology, and accordingly fine tuning products for the developing market-place.

The original article was written end 1997 and published in Jan 1998, almost 15 years ago. Dear Reader, please comment and let us know whether some of these concepts are relevant today.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2012
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

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About Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer. Educated at IIT Delhi, ITBHU Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories, creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional research papers in journals and edited in-house journals for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for almost 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing. Vikram lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

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