You’ve heard of the 4 P’s…what are the 4 I’s?

Do you ever wonder just how much companies know about their customers?

Many years ago, before the smart-phone and mobile technological boom, we used to use Nokia 3310’s, which were basically useful for calling someone, sending the odd text message (with a frustrating non-QWERTY keypad) and playing a round of Snake.


Nowadays, our smart phones are permanently attached to our hands. If we aren’t holding them, they have to be in a 3 feet radius of our body at all time, or we simply will not be able to function. What would we do if someone asked us how many penguins can a polar bear eat in one sitting and we didn’t have our phones? (Apparently it’s 86 penguins!)


Because we now take our phones absolutely everywhere, companies are able to know a lot more about their customers than they were when we were all using bricks. Companies now have access to data about our time and location.

Kaplan’s 4 I’s help companies gather this kind of information about their consumers (Kaplan, 2012). Companies should:

  • Individualise their mobile social media so that it is relevant to each of their consumers


Gone are the days of the family shared computer, where one device belonged to 4 people and you had to fight over who got to go on first.

Today, almost everyone has their own computer/phone/tablet/device, so the searches of users are more personalised. This is a great opportunity for companies because they can communicate in the right way to the correct customer.

The Goodreads app does this well. It looks at what books you have been searching; considers which titles and authors you have already read; and notices what you have said you want to read, to give you a list of book recommendations.

It also lets you set your own Reading Challenge. At the start of each year you type in how many books you want to read over the next 12 months, and it keeps track of your progress.

  • Integrate their mobile social media into the lives of consumers, so that they do not appear annoying


Have you ever deleted an app because it kept sending you notifications? I certainly have. The Metro Notify app was the single most annoying thing I have ever downloaded. In theory, it seemed smart – you enter your train line and the app will send you a notification when a train was delayed or cancelled. However, I was being notified constantly about every single train that would not run on time. Just imagine how many notifications that is, considering our train system. I was being notified about trains at 11pm on Tuesday night – a time I have never been on public transport. In the end, I had to delete the app because it was more frustrating than helpful.

Metro abused my trust and were simply annoying. Companies need to remember that consumers don’t want to be bombarded with information. Yes, they might like your brand and that is why they have downloaded your app, but too much information is often damaging.

metro notify

  • Involve their consumers to communicate through their mobile social media platform


It is important for companies to interact with their consumers in some way, and make them feel a part of the company. People are more likely to feel positive about a brand if they can participate in some way. This can include either in-app purchases or special events.

For example, Mattel launched the “Make Your Own Barbie” project which allows you to choose a doll, select an outfit and create your own unique Barbie-sized t-shirt. This gives customers some control to make something that is unique. The finished product can then be shared via other social media platforms.


  • Initiate user-generated content


The previous 3 steps are less effective if consumers do not spread positive word of mouth about your app or website. Reviews and comments are extremely valuable to a company, and can be the deciding factor for a consumer.

The TripAdvisor app allows and encourages consumers to leave comments and offer advice to potential travellers. If a business does not have a TripAdvisor account, many people may be reluctant to stay there because they do not have the opportunity to read reviews.

trip advisor.jpg





2 thoughts on “You’ve heard of the 4 P’s…what are the 4 I’s?

  1. readthisblogspace says:

    Hey, just wanted to say i genuinely enjoyed this read and found it very informative at the same time! Not many people would know how much thought and effort really goes behind companies trying to communicate via mobile social media to their consumers. Trusted app’s like TripAdvisor are an absolute life saver and save so much time! I just wonder what companies can do next to improve their mobile social media presence/communication!


    • marketingspeaksblog says:

      I think companies need to know who they are communicating with. There is no point talking in confusing jargon, for example, if it will not be understood by those who connect with the company.

      For me, the most important ‘I’ would have to be the integration step. Companies that present themselves to be annoying are simply that – ANNOYING! There is a very fine line here and companies need to find the right balance.


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