The 4 Ps of Marketing: How the Internet Has Changed the Approach for Auto Dealers


Product. Price. Place. Promotion. The 4 Ps of marketing have been around for over fifty years and are talked about in every marketing class.  But the related marketing approaches were designed to address technology and media outlets of the past.  The internet, smart phones, and supporting technology have changed (and will continue to change) how businesses, including Auto Dealerships, and their customers, do business.  The question Auto Dealers today must ask themselves is if they have modified their approach for each “P” to change with the times.

Auto Dealerships should alter each “P” to fit the needs of the today’s consumers. Consider how the internet affects the 4 Ps, and what you, the dealer, can do to modify your marketing approach:

  1. Product- The internet has made the process of car shopping much easier and more detailed. Consumers can research cars by the features they want, down to the color and number of miles on a car.  While a franchise dealer may not always have a say in which services or new vehicles he stocks, he does have control over which used vehicles fill his lot.  Understand and select vehicles that customers are researching online! Your inventory draws consumers in; make sure you are choosing vehicles that customers want.
  2. Price- With the internet, people can easily look up information and see what people are paying for vehicles. They will not overpay for a car.  As a dealer, you need to know the retail equation and what it takes – in dollars – to get cars sold, so you can buy cars for the right price and see a profit. Know what makes up your retail equation in order to set the right price.
  3. Place- The internet has also affected the relevance of place (your dealership lot). Today, customers often shop online (and not on your lot), and buy in person. Customers spend more time on your website than on your lot (the quality of their visit to your website often determines IF they bother to visit your lot).  This means your website better be appealing.  Displaying clear pictures with detailed information and a visible price may make the difference in a sale or not. If your website is not functional for car shopping, customers will find one that is.
  4. Promotion- The key to promotion often is simply having the cars consumers want. No matter how good the price is, a customer won’t buy a car he is not interested in. To promote your cars, maintain a visually attractive website that is easy to use (as mentioned above in Place). Good promotion means including photos of different angles of the vehicle, tons of information on the car, a visible e-mail or number to call, and great comments about the dealer. Make your inventory available for consumers in an appealing way.


Clearly, just the presence of the internet has changed how, where, and for what price businesses promote their products.  The tips above are not a solution for the advent of the internet, but a starting point for how Auto Dealerships should continually adjust their marketing approach to the changes in technology. The huge and growing role of social media, and the increasing number and use of smart phones and mobile sites should be integrated into the Auto Dealer’s marketing plan as well.  Ultimately, we see that it is not the concept of the 4 Ps of marketing which has changed, but the approach of how businesses reach consumers.