Part of our inspiration for the 4A’s comes from Coca-Cola, which has long been renowned for the zeal with which it guards the formula for its flagship soft drink. Less known is another recipe that Coke has long used in its marketing, which it calls the three A’s: Acceptability, Affordability, and Availability. Over the years, it added a fourth A, “Activation.” Since 1996, Coke has emphasized Activation’s core elements: “pervasive penetration, best price relative to value, and making Coke the preferred beverage everywhere.” 1 Here is how Coke’s European bottling company, Coca-Cola HBC (CCHBC), describes how it deploys its 4A’s:

Availability—CCHBC reaches out to consumers by placing its full range of products not just within an arm’s reach of desire, but by providing the right package, in the right location, at the right time.

Affordability—By offering a wide variety of desirable, quality products, in the package appropriate for each market, for each occasion, and for the right price, CCHBC gives consumers affordable choice.

Acceptability—Relentless control, effective customer service, outstanding efficiency, and the best route to market, combined with a detailed knowledge of consumer needs, guarantees that CCHBC products are acceptable to consumers across every market.

Activation—Consumer motivation for choosing CCHBC products comes through providing them at the right price for the right brand, in the right location. By placing them in interesting and enticing point-of-purchase displays, by making them available via precisely placed coolers, or vendors, or racks, or fountains, and by making them relevant to the lives of purchasers, CCHBC activates consumer demand. 2