Understanding 4 A’s of Marketing Acceptability, Affordability, Accessibility, Awareness
4 A’s of Marketing According to Jagdish Sheth and Rajendra Sisodia, poor management because of not knowing what drives consumers is behind the majority of marketing failures. The authors make the case that consumer knowledge is a much more reliable route to success. Their customer-centric marketing management framework emphasizes what they believe are the most important consumer values—acceptability, affordability, accessibility, and awareness—which they dub the four As.
Acceptability is the extent to which a firm’s total product offering exceeds customer expectations. The authors assert that Acceptability is the dominant component in the framework and that design, in turn, is at the root of acceptability. Functional aspects of design can be boosted by, for instance, enhancing the core benefit or increasing reliability of the product; psychological acceptability can be improved with changes to brand image, packing and design, and positioning.
Affordability is the extent to which customers in the target market are able and willing to pay the product’s price. It has two dimensions: economic (ability to pay) and psychological (willingness to pay). Acceptability combined with affordability determines the product’s value proposition. When Peachtree Software lowered the price of its accounting software from $5000 to $199 and started charging for customer support, sales demand increased enormously.
Accessibility, the extent to which customers are able to readily acquire the product, has two dimensions: availability and convenience. Successful companies develop innovative ways to deliver both, as online shoe retailer Zappos does with excellent customer service and return policies and its tracking of up-to-the-minute information about warehouse stock, brands, and styles.
Awareness is the extent to which customers are informed regarding the product’s characteristics, persuaded to try it, and reminded to repurchase. It has two dimensions: brand awareness and product knowledge. Seth and Sisodia say awareness is ripest for improvement because most companies are either ineffectual or inefficient at developing it. For instance, properly done advertising can be incredibly powerful, but word-of-mouth marketing and co-marketing can more effectively reach potential customers.
Sheth and Sisodia base the 4 As framework on the four distinctive roles a consumer plays in the marketplace—seeker, buyer, payer, and user. A fifth consumer role—evangelizer—captures the fact that consumers often recommend products to others and are increasingly critical with the advent of the Internet and social media platforms.
Note that we can easily relate the 4 As to the traditional 4 Ps. Marketers set the product (which mainly influences acceptability), the price (which mainly influences affordability), the place (which mainly influences accessibility), and promotion (which mainly influences awareness).
Jagdish N. Sheth and Rajendra Sisodia, The 4 A’s of Marketing:
Creating Value for Customer, Company and Society (New York: Routledge,
2012); “New Rules: Jagdish Sheth Outlines 4A’s of Marketing,” The Financial
Express, April 6, 2004; “Industry Leaders Discuss Marketing for Not for Profit Organizations @ BIMTECH Marketing Summit,” www.mbauniverse.com, May