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Analysis of the above research was undertaken to produce a report regarding each aspect of the marketing mix for lastminute.com.

Background

Lastminute.com was set up in 1998 with its aim to become the number one European e-commerce lifestyle player by delighting their customers with great value inspirations and solutions. It prides its self on offering something a little bit different to its customer’s by offering consumers last minute deals on travel, going out, gift ideas and games also the latest offers for the season. It has won recent awards for ‘Investor Relations Award’ and ‘Best Travel Site’- Web User Reader Awards 2002.

Findings

Marketing mix

Marketing decisions generally fall into the following four controllable categories.

Looking at the 4 Ps as a variable in which we control. The idea is to set these variables in such a way so that sales will take place. You cannot make a customer pull out their credit card, but you certainly help them in coming to a decision by setting the right price, the retail location, the level of advertising and even the product attributes such as colour or perceived quality. You as a retailer control everything but the customer itself. These are all interdependent. Taken together they constitute a certain mix. This is often referred to as the marketing mix. In defining this mix it is also necessary to take into account your competitors mix as well as your overall corporate goals and objectives.

What the 4Ps are:

* Product – New product development, product management, product features and benefits, branding, packaging and after sales service.

* Price – costs and profitability, value for money competitiveness and incentives.

* Place – Access to target market, channel management, retailer image and logistics

* Promotion – Develop promotional mixes, advertising management, sales promotion management, public relations management and direct marketing.

The term marketing mix became popularized after Neil H Broden Published his 1964 article The Concept of the Marketing Mix. Borden began to use his term in the late 1940s after James Culliton had described the marketing manager as a ‘mixer for ingredients’.

More recently, however, it has become apparent that the 4 Ps as they stand are not always sufficient. In the service sector in particular, they cannot fully describe the marketing activities that are going on, and so an extended marketing mix known as the 7Ps was proposed by Booms and Bitner (1981), adding people, processes and physical evidence to the traditional 4Ps.

Additional 3Ps

* People – All people directly or indirectly involved in the consumption of a service. Services often depend on people to perform them, creating and delivering the product that the customer wants.

* Processes – Procedures, mechanism and flow of activities by which services are consumed. Process can also involve queuing mechanisms, preventing waiting customer details and payment; as well as ensuring the high professional quality of whatever service they are buying.

* Physical evidence – the ability and environment in which the service is being delivered, both tangible goods that help to communicate and perform to the best ability of the business to relay customer satisfaction to potential customers. In service situations, physical evidence would relate to the aircraft in which you fly the hotel in which you stay, the stadium in which you are watching the big match.

All three additional Ps help to create something unique that the potential customer will recognise and value, this distinguishes one organisations product from another. The process in which you deal with the merchandise or people will help you become efficient and effective in the market place adding value to the product. The people that offer your service will be the ones remembered by the customer and the physical appearance will help the product become a number one best seller.

Last minute.com case study

Looking at the case study last minute.com they seem to have developed a suitable marketing mix to attract the appropriate customers.

Price

Last minute offers good value for money through reputable products and for searchers those whose time is precious and whose lifestyles require immediate satisfactions, rather than being a bargain basement store. They have little or no overheads as everything is offered over the internet with other companies’ products.

Place

They are an internet based travel website. They have access to everyone that owns a computer. They now have services connected through digital interactive televisions via wap phones and over the web from a personal computer.

Now 70% of people have mobile phones, 55% of homes have personal computers and 45% of house holds have internet access. This gives them access to half of the United Kingdom population. (Source given by last minute.com the book)

. They also have partnerships with supplier who also advertises last minute .com on their websites. Recently they have entered into a partnership with Granada Media which has extended their advertising capacity

Product

They offer travel which includes holidays, flights, hotels, transfers and taxis. They offer retail; gifts, which include chocolate, gourmet foods, lingerie, adult fun items and experiences as in paint balling bungee jumping and driving experiences on their website. They offer leisure items i.e. theatre tickets, concerts or sports events and the booking or restaurants or takeaways to be delivered to your home. This has created a great marketing portfolio to offer something for everyone.

Promotion

Last minute.com is a brand name and their reputation has developed over the years, this has only been possible with the growth of their partnership with suppliers who have come to recognise the potential of last minute.com. They have developed a successful product portfolio with the help of suppliers being able to offer a quality product.

Advertising within the web site changes throughout the day to reflect deadlines for products and the customer’s needs. Weekly newsletters are distributed via email to over 3.5 million people which are allocated from the customer database that they have developed. The advertisement of satisfied customers through word of mouth recommendations is also a great asset to last minute.com.

People

The creation of traditional departments run by experienced staff such a marketing, human resources and finance as well as departments that reflect the high tech retail focuses of the business such as a technical department to maintain the infrastructure that allows communications and transactions to take place. They also have three supply managers whose departments source the products. This has kept them in the forefront of the business inspiring them to be the first to achieve new goals Word of mouth recommendations is a great asset to last minute.com. This also helps them to keep up with the fashions and trends of the ever changing environment that we live in.

Processes

Transactions for products can be done through digital interactive televisions via wap phones and over the web from a personal computer.

They also have after sales service with a user monitor survey which monitors feedback on products and service rendered. This is filled in by customers and used to improve their quality of product and service. The online ordering service is done quickly and an email is sent to your email address confirming product confirmation. Offering a fast and effective customer service

Physical Evidence

Advertising within the website changes day in day out to reflect the time of day and any special offer or events for that day or the season which we are in. Depending on the type of product being bought a gift wrapping service is provided and an optional delivery service is offered. The website is designed to be informative and user friendly. The use of bold colours on its website has helped people to relate the pink and black colours to last minute.com.

Conclusion

Last minute.com has combined the 4ps to drive future loyalty and extra sales. Extended variety of quality checked products has been its greatest strength, with the loyalty and partnership of its companies, staff and customers. Last minute .com has managed to guarantee its source and product delivery by people directly involved with the company.

It has latched on to ‘time poor’ consumers, and offers great solution and ideas, excellent service and an appealing product and fast and efficient process and offering good value for money. It has become an agent putting sellers and buyers together. It has 45% of the population at it finger tips being at the forefront of the internet revolution.