The 5th P of Marketing: Purpose

Puzzle pieces with "Product, Place, Price, Promotion, and Purpose" in the pieces.
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By: Tony Winslow, Marketing Manager at Cengage


“The 4 Ps of marketing”—product, price, place and promotion strategyhave been the foundations of industry thinking and introductory Marketing courses for the past sixty years. Other Ps, such as people and processeshave tried to make their way into the mix, but the original 4 have remained as foundations  

I propose a new foundational P – a P that transcends, impacts and sometimes uproots the original 4 Ps. It goes beyond customer-centricitycause-related marketing, corporate social responsibility and echoing cultural sentiments to fit in and make you look good. The 5th P of Marketing is purpose. 

Purpose: It’s no longer optional for marketers 

Over 90% of millennial consumers will “switch from one brand to another because it champions a cause. Fuse Marketing says that Gen Z has a “purpose filter” to choose which companies they support. Consumers expect brands to speak out against injustice, encourage mindful habits and participate with us in creating change.  

To quote Seth Godin, “Marketing is the most powerful force available to people who want to make change. I believe in a much more powerful force, but in the context of business impact on social change, this statement is not hyperbole. In a world wrecked by pandemic, racial injustice, human trafficking etc., marketers have a responsibility to use their power to change beliefs for the good of others. 

How is purpose manifested? 

If your purpose is simply an addendum to your mission statement or donating money and tweeting about it, you’re doing it wrong. Purpose is not reactive to what’s going on in the worldit’s about guiding beliefs that shape your entire organization. For some organizationspurpose is embedded within the business model (what Cengage authors refer to as a “Strategic Philanthropy Approach”): 

For other organizations, purpose is ingrained within the culture and values statements, so product strategy and marketing messaging reflect that purpose: 

Whatever your purpose is, your brand say must match your brand doAuthenticity is required to create consumer trust. When Coke put a social distancing message in Times Square, their message was genuine and consistent with the purpose-driven story they’ve been telling us. McDonalds, however, faced backlash when separating their golden arches.  


Purpose requires a shift in mindset

My challenge to marketers, instructors and studentsinject purpose into your marketing plans to impact the rest of the 4 Ps. Is the purpose of your organization defined? What organizational core competencies support your purpose and how can you hone those to make a greater impact on the world? 

 Let’s make purpose stick as the new foundational P of marketing thinking.  


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