How to Transform Your Marketing With the 4 A’s

Some time ago I heard a broadcast by Jagdish Sheth where he talked about a concept that he discusses in his new book “The 4A’s of Marketing”. The concept of the 4A’s of marketing adds a whole new and refreshing dimension to the marketing definition and was a truly eye-opening […]

Some time ago I heard a broadcast by Jagdish Sheth where he talked about a concept that he discusses in his new book “The 4A’s of Marketing”. The concept of the 4A’s of marketing adds a whole new and refreshing dimension to the marketing definition and was a truly eye-opening message for me. I’d like to share a few key points about why the 4A’s will absolutely change all your preconceptions about marketing.

One of the first lessons any person new to marketing is exposed to is “The 4P’s of Marketing” While I use the 5P’s, when In include “People”, the number of P’s can vary from four to eight depending upon the source.

The 4P’s are:

Product – This is what you are selling.
Price – This is the retail and wholesale price that ensures that it covers all costs, yet still returns a profit and remains competitive in the marketplace.
Place – This is the location where a prospect can find you. For example: in retail outlets, online, etc.
Promotion – This is the strategy that you will use to make prospects aware that you have something to sell.

Sometimes marketing consultants will add a 5th P for People as I do, a 6th P for Performance, and even a 7th or 8th for Packaging and Positioning.

What was truly an epiphany for me after hearing Professor Sheth speak was that regardless of the number of Ps in the above message, the direction of the Ps is wrong. The Ps are from the perspective of the business looking at the prospect. The 4P’s focus on the selling organization view rather than on the prospect’s view. The 4P’s were never designed to describe what is needed to be successful from the customer’s perspective. To understand what is required to achieve success from the position of the prospect, marketers needed another mode to complement the 4P’s model. Professor Sheth reversed the view and looks at what matters in marketing from the perspective of the prospect toward the business.

The 4A"s model vs 4Ps

Professor Sheth recommends marketers also consider the 4A’s which are:


Acceptability reverses the view on Product in the 4P’s and refers to the product or services ability to meet the expectations of the prospect, and follows two dimensions:

4As - Acceptability

Functional – This is the engineering that goes into a product or service to make it more usable. Functional acceptability refers to the “objective” performance attributes of a product or service. Does the product have the features that customers in the target market expect? Is it reliable? Does it perform as expected?

For example, you may offer a larger box of cereal but if it is too tall to fit into the common height between cupboard shelves the product will likely be relegated to a place such as below the sink, where it will be out of sight and out of mind.

Psychological – This is the more “subjective” attribute of the product or service.

For example, is your product or service associated with a luxury brand such as BMW or Cadillac and therefore attractive to status seekers, or is it associated with low price to be attractive to bargain hunters such as Chevy or Nissan?


Affordability reverses the view on Price in the 4P’s and refers to the ability and a prospect’s willingness to pay for the product or services at a specific price. Affordability, therefore, follows two dimensions:

4As - Affordability

Ability – This refers to the prospect’s economic ability to make the purchase. Do potential customers in the target market have sufficient economic resources to pay the product’s price.

For example, a person may want to buy an item on QVC or the HSN but can’t afford it until they offer six easy payments.

Willingness – This refers to psychological affordability. A person might be able to pay for a product or service but are they willing to make the purchase? A person’s willingness to pay may be tied to their perception of the value they have, or it may also be tied to how it will make them feel or fit in with their peer group.

For example, I see few oil field workers driving a Nissan LEAF or a Chevy Bolt since everyone in the oil field drives tricked-out trucks.


Accessibility reverses the view on Place in the 4P’s and refers to ease and usability. Accessibility also follows two dimensions:

4As - Accessibility

Availability – This refers to the supply side. Does the company have enough of a product to match customer demand?

For example, we have all experienced the desire to buy something only to discover that it is on back-order and not currently available.

Convenience – This refers to the prospect’s ability to make a purchase and take delivery. How easy it is for potential customers to acquire a product or service Can they buy it only online or can they buy it in stores?

For example, I like Coke products which I can buy in bottles at the store, in vending machines, and often at my favorite restaurant.


Awareness reverses the view on Promotion in the 4P’s and refers to how the prospect learns about your product or service in the first place. As with all the other A’s, awareness follows two dimensions:

4As - Awareness

Brand – This refers to the prospect’s awareness of the actual product or service and the reputation they associate with it.

For example, a brand like Publix and Giant Eagle are both large supermarket chains that have a brand that is more regional while Wal-Mart or McDonald’s are global brands.

Product – This refers to the prospect’s ability to know how to use or apply the product.

For example, a prospect may be aware of a pharmaceutical drug like Eliquis as a drug that treats A-Fib, but many patients with A-Fib are not aware of how Eliquis compares to other similar A-Fib drugs like Xarelto or Warfarin.

The 4A’s concept suggested by Professor Jagdish Sheth that the traditional view of marketing captured by the 4P’s comes from the wrong perspective is truly fascinating and brings a new set of optics to marketers with his 4A’s viewpoint.

Does your marketing embrace the concepts of the 5P’s or the 4A’s?

Balmon Hyper

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