Updating the Four Ps Marketing mix

Many years ago, McCarthy classified various marketing activities into marketing-mix tools of four broad kinds, which he called the four Ps of marketing: product, price, place, and promotion.61 The marketing variables under each P are shown in Figure 1.5.

A complementary view of the four Ps can be found in Marketing Insight: Understanding the 4 As of Marketing,”

Given the breadth, complexity, and richness of marketing, however—as exemplified by holistic marketing— clearly these four Ps are not the whole story anymore. If we update them to reflect the holistic marketing concept, we arrive at a more representative set that encompasses modern marketing realities: people, processes, programs, and performance, as in Figure 1.6.

People reflects, in part, internal marketing and the fact that employees are critical to marketing success. Marketing will only be as good as the people inside the organization. It also reflects the fact that marketers must view consumers as people to understand their lives more broadly, and not just as shoppers who consume products and services.

Processes reflects all the creativity, discipline, and structure brought to marketing management. Marketers must avoid ad hoc planning and decision making and ensure that state-of-the-art marketing ideas and concepts play an appropriate role in all they do, including creating mutually beneficial long-term relationships and imaginatively generating insights and breakthrough products, services, and marketing activities.

Programs reflects all the firm’s consumer-directed activities. It encompasses the old four Ps as well as a range of other marketing activities that might not fit as neatly into the old view of marketing. Regardless of whether they are online or offline, traditional or nontraditional, these activities must be integrated such that their whole is greater than the sum of their parts and they accomplish multiple objectives for the firm.

We define performance as in holistic marketing, to capture the range of possible outcome measures that have financial and nonfinancial implications (profitability as well as brand and customer equity) and implications beyond the company itself (social responsibility, legal, ethical, and the environment).

Finally, these new four Ps actually apply to all disciplines within the company, and by thinking this way, manag­ers more closely align themselves with the rest of the company.

MARKETING INSIGHT Understanding the 4 As of Marketing

According to Jagdish Sheth and Rajendra Sisodia, poor management as a consequence 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. Sheth 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).

Sources: 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 1,2012.

Source: Kotler Philip T., Keller Kevin Lane (2015), Marketing Management, Pearson; 15th Edition.

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