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MARK 451 (17)
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MARK 451
Gad Saad

Given the intangibility of services, marketing them becomes a particularly challenging and yet extremely important task. A key differentiator: Due to the increasing homogeneity in product offerings, the attendant services provided are emerging as a key differentiator in the mind of the consumers. Hence, marketers can leverage on the service offering to differentiate themselves from the competition and attract consumers. Importance of relationships: Relationships are a key factor when it comes to the marketing of services. Since the product is intangible, a large part of the customers’ buying decision will depend on the degree to which he trusts the seller. Hence, the need to listen to the needs of the customer and fulfill them through the appropriate service offering and build a long lasting relationship which would lead to repeat sales and positive word of mouth. Customer Retention: Given today’s highly competitive scenario where multiple providers are vying for a limited pool of customers, retaining customers is even more important than attracting new ones. Since services are usually generated and consumed at the same time, they actually involve the customer in service delivery process by taking into consideration his requirements and feedback. Thus they offer greater scope for customization according to customer requirements thus offering increased satisfaction leading to higher customer retention. When the physical product cannot easily be differentiated, the key to competitive success may lie in adding valued services and improving their quality. Rolls-Royce PLC has ensured its aircraft engines are in high demand by continuously monitoring the health of its 3000 engines for 45 airlines through live satellite feeds. Under its TotalCare program, airlines pay Rolls a fee for every hour an engine in flight, and Rolls assumes the risks and costs of downtime and repairs in return. The first four elements in the services marketing mix are the same as those in the traditional marketing mix. However, given the unique nature of services, the implications of these are slightly different in case of services. Product: In case of services, the ‘product’ is intangible, heterogeneous and perishable. Moreover, its production and consumption are inseparable. Hence, there is scope for customizing the offering as per customer requirements and the actual customer encounter therefore assumes particular significance. However, too much customization would compromise the standard delivery of the service and adversely affect its quality. Hence particular care has to be taken in designing the service offering. Pricing: Pricing of services is tougher than pricing of goods. While the latter can be priced easily by taking into account the raw material costs, in case of services attendant costs - such as labor and overhead costs - also need to be factored in. Thus a restaurant not only has to charge for the cost of the food served but also has to calculate a price for the ambience provided. The final price for the service is then arrived at by including a mark up for an adequate profit margin. Place: Since service delivery is concurrent with its production and cannot be stored or transported, the location of the service product assumes importance. Service providers have to give special thought to where the service would be provided. Thus, a fine dine restaurant is better located in a busy, upscale market as against on the outskirts of a city. Similarl
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