Back in the 1980s, designs were more functional, low cost and convenience orientated. Sustainable designs are evolving beyond only profitability – to explore a more complex landscape. To build a more sustainable planet, items like plastic bags are slowly becoming a relic. And the four Ps provide an opportunity to cover an agenda of environmental impact, user experience, societal effects, and purpose compatibility.

Credit: Forbes

Purpose, People, Planet, Profit. These are the brand new 4 Ps of Marketing. Why are they important? First its important to understand what marketing, as a term, actually means. The American Marketing Association describes marketing as,

the activity, set of institutions, or processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

The four Ps is a concept that summarises four key factors of any marketing strategy. They are: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. In today’s world, a modern design team should already be considering the new 4Ps (Purpose, Profit, People and Planet) rather than the conventional 3Ps (People, Profit and Planet). And in this world, full of fierce competition, creatives should always be keeping them in mind. To make the cut nowadays, briefs should consider:

Purpose: Why are we doing this at all, and are we in the best position to do it?
Profit: Does this project make financial sense with the technology and capabilities we have available?
People: Have we thought through the impact on people —not just the end users, but broader society as well?
Planet: How does this project leave our planet in a better place than before we started?

Source: www.McKinsey.com

Once the framework is ready to deploy, senior leaders have to be strict in implementing these four elements.


Credit: Fashionista

Utilising recycled materials or zero-carbon as a slogan is a catchy title for product designs. Nowadays, it is the starting point before considering the design workflow. This addresses sustainability, engineering, and supply chain to aim for regenerative corporate practices; allowing for the circular economy where possible. It even becomes possible to repurpose items with prior damage – instead of sending it straight to the landfill.


Credit: Ere Perez

What steps does a company take to address people? Consider the following. To achieve a great and even improved customer experience, a company that produces cosmetic products might use this framework to reassess its product design; to create a simple powder that comes in a much smaller box.

This can result in losing a pre-existing 90% intake of water in each product unit. This helps to simplify the production and supply chain process. So, this increases profit by transporting more products in the same shipping container; while reducing their carbon footprint in each shipment.


Credit: Freepik

Example: A robot cleaner design considers the planet framework by aiming to surpass a zero-carbon appliance. This requires collaboration with a cross-functional team. The result, is an appliance design that reduces water and chemical use. This occurs through innovative technology; with a design emphasis on new profit opportunities for the appliance maker as well.


Credit: Arch Daily

To understand the purpose, consider the following. Hypothetically, a designer is working on an app for a transport project for the local government. This is to help commuters find parking in a busy CBD area. To do this, they need to consider how their design benefits the driver’s personal schedule. In addition, the availability of parking spots and potential shared-vehicle rental when the vehicle is idle. This is what it means to consider the purpose of your project.

More than just a Guideline

No matter what kind of business you operate, the Four Ps are more than just an abstract guideline. Really, they’re vital. They ensure that you can successfully promote your new business idea. Improve your sales. Reach your target audience, or even test your existing market strategy. Harness the power of the four Ps – and watch your business flourish.

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