As a marketing consultant, I am frequently asked about customer acquisition and retention. Many businesses struggle in these areas despite exhaustive marketing efforts. Many marketing managers have said that they have done the marketing mix right and have focused on the four (4) Ps (Product, Price, Place, Promotion). I reassure them that they are on the right track but much more has to be done to acquire new customers and retain current ones. The four (4) Ps lean more towards the business side and sometimes the core element of the business (the customer) is forgotten. For businesses to thrive in this current competitive climate they must adopt a customer-centric approach. My advice is to include the four (4) As model in the marketing mix.
The four (4) As include Acceptability, Affordability, Accessibility, and Awareness. Focusing on these four areas enables your marketing efforts to be more customer-centric. The target customer should always be at the center of your product development and promotional activities. The four (4) As seem nebulous to some marketers and they are hesitant to include them in their marketing mix. It is quite simple to understand and it will help your business grow a larger customer base once executed appropriately. Let’s look at these four (4) As in some more detail and how they will enhance your marketing mix.
- Acceptability: This area focuses primarily on whether the product or service adequately meets the needs and/or supersedes the expectations of the target customer. Acceptability contains two parts: 1. Functional and 2. Psychological. Functional follows objectivity and it ensures that the product or service performs as expected; is it a consistent product and does it work as you expect it to? Psychological follows a more subjective approach where the perceived value of the product or service is more important; does the product or service meet a particular aesthetic or possess certain attributes to satisfy the customer in the target market? Suffice it to say, it is very important to provide exactly what your customer wants or needs. They are the consumer of the product or service and their satisfaction is the first priority.
- Affordability: This area looks at whether the customers can pay for the product/service or are they willing to pay based on their perception of the good / service. Providing the right product at the right price must always be taken into consideration. It is important to know how much purchasing power your customer has in the target market. Some markets are price sensitive and others are insensitive where purchases are based on quality or perception.
- Accessibility: Is your product or service easily accessible to your customer in the target market? Have you made it convenient for the customer to purchase your offerings? Can the customer find your product at multiple locations? Is there parking available where your product/service is located or can the customer access it via public transportation? You want your customer to easily access your product or service and the onus is on you the business owner to facilitate accessibility.
- Awareness: This area speaks to how informed your customer is on your product or service. Is your brand visible? Have you done sufficient promotional activity to the point where your customer is completely knowledgeable about how your product works, where it is available, and what is the price point? This area is fundamental in your marketing mix and without proper brand awareness, it is nearly impossible to acquire and retain customers.
Coca-Cola is a company that brilliantly executes the four (4) As model in their marketing mix. They closely look at the key concerns of their customers. Its business model is very customer-centric and the company creates value for its customers. Coca-Cola is a globally successful company that has incorporated both the 4 Ps and As into its marketing mix. Their formula is unbeatable and as a Marketing Consultant, I recommend following Coca-Cola’s strategy of creating a robust marketing mix with the integration of the 4 Ps and As.