Do you remember learning all about the Four P's? Jerry McCarthy's Rosetta Stone of Marketing Education 101?

Of course you do. Product, Price, Place, and Promotion.

You develop your product, price it to make a profit, place it on the shelf of a willing retailer, and then you promote the heck out of it to an eager and impressionable consumer. Easy-peasy, right?

Well, that was then. This is now. Today the consumer is king and queen. And they have a ton of options, of which you're only one.

What to do then? The old Four P formula obviously isn't working. No longer is the once-reliable retailer an easy sell, and the previously pliant consumer has all but disappeared.

Enter a new formula: Lautenborn's Four C's.

Bob Lautenborn, an expert in marketing communications and corporate advertising, first introduced the concept in Advertising Age two decades ago. How prescient he was.

So, if you haven't already done it, it's time to forget the Four P's. No more product, price, place, and promotion. The Four C's are what will help you build relationships and generate the greatest profits. Here they are:

Consumer Wants and Needs

Forget Product. Learn about Consumer Wants and Needs. You can't sell whatever you make in today's world. You can only sell what someone wants to buy. And that means you have to entice them one by one. To do that, you need to do your research, build your relationships, and listen.

Cost to Satisfy Consumer

Ignore Price. Appreciate instead the Cost to Satisfy Consumer. This is a difficult, complex calculation. But an incredibly necessary one in today's digital market. Consumers today consider numerous things before they buy; dollars are only one part of the cost. Time, tastes, conscience, all these factor in to the choices they make.

Convenience to Buy

Forget Place. Consider instead Convenience to Buy. Why drive to the mall when there's the internet? Amazon, eBay, and thousands of on-line sellers offer just about anything you might want to buy. So what does that mean for you? That means you have to think outside your usual distribution channels and get to know how each subsection of your market prefers to buy. Then permeate it.


Dispense with Promotion. Promotion is passé; gone the way of disco and mullet haircuts. It's manipulative and seller-focused. Communication, on the other hand, is supportive and buyer-focused. Today's consumers are market savvy. They don't tolerate hard-sell; they don't listen. They question, they compare, they click, and – if you've struck a chord with them – they buy. Or they move on to a new site.

The Four P's formula hasn't yet gone the way of the Dodo bird. There are still companies out there plying their trade under the product, price, place and promotion banner. And maybe that works for them.


I've got to go with Lautenborn.

Sure, we've probably been using his Four C's in our current marketing efforts. We know how important communication is, how we need to address consumers' needs, not our desires. We just didn't see it as a formula, a blueprint to follow. But it is.

The Four C's is a blueprint for success


posted by


Aug 12, 2017 at 8:12am

I love it. Makes so much more sense using the 4 Cs instead of the 4 Ps

Aug 12, 2017 at 1:12pm

Great! Let me know how it works for you.

Send a Comment