25 May 2022

With every marketing lesson, you will learn about the four P’s of the marketing mix: Price, Place, Product and Promotion are the basis of many courses and books about marketing. The four Ps have been around for decades and also have their limitations.

A number of marketers have therefore replaced the four P's with the four E's: the same idea but adapted to today's times.

The E's respond to the topics that consumers find important today, therefore, less conservative than the four P's.

We have described each E below and give you tips on how you can apply it in your garden centre.

Where do the four E's come from?

Before we explain which four words we're going to use to replace the P's of this mix, it's helpful to know where the four E's come from.

Over 10 years ago, blogs appeared explaining that the four P's were no longer enough to choose the right marketing channels. The first case was about luxury brands in jewellery & fashion, but since then more marketers have looked at the four E's with success. 

They are widely applicable and certainly also for garden centres that want to make progress!

Evangelism (replaces the P for promotion)

With the rise of social media and influencers, promotion has been replaced by evangelism.

While promotion mainly focuses on the location where you place your advertisements (online, offline, in public space, or on TV), evangelism is about enthusing your best customers.

Influencers, but also your own customers, have an enormous reach via social media: a positive message about your garden centre can be read by thousands of people. More importantly, this digital word-of-mouth advertising is more valuable than an advertising message that comes from yourself.

You can help your customers & fans with this by:

  • Encourage writing reviews about your garden centre, online & offline
  • Implementing tools such as Flowbox that can be linked to your webshop so that photos of real customers are visible on product pages
  • Properly propagate your core values ​​in the garden centre and online
  • Actively respond to reviews and social media posts about your garden centre

In 2022, your customers will post online about your garden centre anyway: by encouraging this and actively participating in the online conversation, you know better what is going on and you become more visible.

Evangelism makes marketing more of a conversation and less of a way to get your message out, which is of course strongly the case with the P for promotion.

Experience (replaces the P for Product)

It is already known in the gardening industry that consumers would rather “buy” an experience than a product. Visiting a Christmas show, for example, is mainly focused on the experience: and that experience leads to purchases.

For example, Weber focuses their marketing on experiences and less on products: it is mainly about what you can do with a barbecue in your garden, such as having a nice evening with friends, and not so much about the thickness of the barbecue's steel.

An experience is quickly confused with major events, restaurants, workshops and whatnot. What's important is to understand that an experience is also about the user experience after the purchase.

The user experience is the convenience that the customer experiences. The Garden On A Roll is a product with a pleasant user experience: it is very easy to understand and use, so it helps the customer to create a nice-looking border. 

This approach is completely different from a shop where you have to find all the right plants, try to combine them yourself and see if it all works out, isn’t it?

You can give your customers a good experience by:

  • Keep services such as delivery, returns and complaint handling very simple.
  • Pro-actively help your customer and identify frequently asked questions
  • A good brand guide helps ensure that all communication is organized in the same way

Consumers are slowly moving from buyers of products to buyers of experiences. 

The Apple Store, where there is almost always a queue, is a good example of this. The well-known telephone shops have disappeared from the streets because there was no enthusiasm for them, but the experience in the Apple Store continues to attract customers.

Exchange (replaces the P for Price)

The price of a product will always be an important factor, but too much focus on price automatically leads to a race to the bottom. This is undesirable for you as a garden centre, your suppliers and also for the consumer, because a lower price always comes at the expense of something: people, the environment or the quality of the product. Oftentimes all three.

But the price of the product and the payment is above all an exchange: an exchange of not only money but also time, expectations and experiences.

If I buy a houseplant, it is a flat transaction: but the expectation is that my mindset improves because of having plants around me and the air in my home office is purified.

So I exchange my hard-earned money for a healthier life.

Another example of an exchange is about the time factor: nowadays there are 101 things you can do on a Sunday afternoon. Until 15 years ago most shops were closed on Sundays, nowadays there is a wide choice.

Visiting a garden centre is an outing for many people. That is why as a store you do not only compete with webshops that sell garden items or the local hardware store but with everyone else who also demands time from your customer:

  • Restaurants and bars
  • Events & Festivals
  • Recreational locations (forest, beach, etc.)
  • Visiting family

Buying from your garden centre is not only a financial transaction but also an exchange of time.

Everyplace (replaces the P for Place)

The last E in the four E’s replaces place. In McCarthy's model, the place was a given, but in 2022 the place must be given a different meaning.

On a smartphone, you can consume anywhere, so this factor has taken on a new dynamic

There are also many more ways and channels to interact with your garden centre, including:

  • In the store itself of course
  • Online, via your own website
  • On social media
  • Via YouTube

The online channels can also be reached at any time of the day and everywhere (every place).

The consumer is also more in control of where he contacts your garden centre. Are you easily accessible at every location?

It's important to understand that this E (or P) isn't just about the transaction: it's about the interaction between company and customer. Many channels have been added and they also change regularly. For example, are you on TikTok yet?

Are the four P's a thing of the past?

We will be the last to write off the four Ps of the marketing mix. But it is good to realize that there are other ways to give substance to your marketing strategy.

So it's not a choice to use the E's or P's: ideally, use them both and think about ways to improve them for your garden centre. By taking a critical look at the four E's, you will gain new insights and you can further improve the marketing of your garden centre. It is a deepening of the traditional Ps and not a direct replacement.

Marketing strategy
Sander Admiraal

This article is written by:

Sander Admiraal

Manager Online Marketing

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