“Marketing mix” is one of the best known phrases in marketing. Elements of the mix--the “four Ps” of price, place, product and promotion--define tactics used to support a company's marketing and business strategies.

Having worked in both food manufacturing and publishing, it seems to me that the critical nature of product sales often translates into the marketing function being of higher profile than the R&D efforts. However, product development is integral to any initiative involving the four Ps. For example, R&D's adeptness at product formulation and scale-up will expand a company's range of options in the pricing, distribution and advertising of a food. Also, R&D adeptness increases with a better understanding of the marketplace.

Speakers at PFs' New Products Conference (October 16-19, 2005, Ritz-Carlton, Naples, Fla.) reflect this integration of science and marketing well.

For example, Edgar Chambers, director of The Sensory Analysis Center at Kansas State University, will provide an energetic discussion on how sensory work with multicultural consumers provides useful insights on the interests of these groups. Mark Lepine, director of menu innovation and development at McDonald's USA, will cover how consumer behavioral shifts create trends and business opportunities. He will offer advice on how companies can mine consumer needs and translate them into menu changes.

A unique view as an exercise physiologist, “practicing consumer” and “TV ad star” will be offered by Bob Murray, director of the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI). Murray oversees GSSI's scientific research in exercise science and sports nutrition and its educational programs. He also appears in Gatorade ads on national television and “competes periodically in masters' swimming, road races and triathlons.”

Product development, marketing and art in the form of culinary excellence all merge in a presentation by Kraft Foodservice's corporate executive chef John Li. He offers useful tips on how the new products stage-gate process for foodservice innovation can be adapted for the retail new product pipeline.

And, in a truly integrated marketing/R&D endeavor, Campbell's Away From Home Division's Joyce Friedberg, senior marketing manager, and Patti Principato, director of R&D, will speak on how Campbell's V8 Soups & Entrée line addresses the growing area of wellness and the challenges and success behind that product.

R&D and marketing are often said to mix like oil and water. At successful companies, they mix well, in part to offer optimal support for a good marketing mix.