The Four As Of Marketing
(31 August 1999 - Advertising & Marketing)
Samsika has used some original thinking - and four As - to establish a sound reputation.
Five years old, Samsika Marketing Consultants Pvt Ltd, claims to be on its way to hit a
billings figure of Rs 12 crore this year. The man who gets credit is Jagdeep Kapoor,
managing director, who started Samsika with his wife as a partner. Samsika played an
impressive role in Nirma's image transformation. The success of Enkay's Onjus was next - a
brand-creation feather in Kapoor's cap. Today, he boasts of clients as prestigious as
Godrej Soaps and Pidilite. Smaller clients include Mongini's, ISP Roltanet and Motilal
What makes Samsika what it is? It could be the integrated marketing services it offers -
everything, from business conceptualisation and strategic brand building to customer
service strategy, strategic perception management, franchising strategy and customised
training. It could also be the array of marketing tools it has to offer, ranging from its
strategic marketing module, retail barometer and candidate profile format to dealer
training module, triangular perception management module, intra-department support matrix
and relationship marketing module. Jargon ripped out of some text book? Not quite. For
it's peppered with local learnings, and every module is designed to work in the Indian
Moreover, Samsika doesn't just spout knowledge and leave it at that. For success, it says,
depth of knowledge must be accompanied by full involvement. The consultancy believes in
being intricately involved from the market research stage to market segmentation, brand
positioning, advertising and distribution. Take Samsika's work for Navneet Publication's
stationery division; it oversaw everything, including the setting up of the sales and
distribution system, formulating the advertising brief and even suggested the baseline ('Jiske
haath mein, uski jeet. Hey Navneet Hey Navneet'). Navneet was positioned as
the convenient stationer, and sales started doubling every year. Onjus was even more
exciting, since Enkay, a textiles exporter, wanted to build a consumer brand in India.
Samsika advised the company on virtually everything, while creating for it a sales and
distribution network covering over 300 towns.
Many of Samsika's clients have full-fledged marketing departments, but Kapoor feels that
he has a lot to contribute. Largely because he has new thoughts and new ideas to offer.
Sometimes, even a whole new perspective. "Take the four Ps but the four
As." His basic approach is to look at four Ps through the consumer's eyes. So,
instead of an emphasis on the Product, there must be a focus on Acceptance. "Having a niche in the market is not sufficient," he continues, by way of
explanatory example, "you have to have a market for that niche." Willingness to
pay counts. The second A is Availability as opposed to Place. His brand mantra here: 'Jo
dikhta hai woh bikta hai'. Then he believes that Awareness should be the
focal issue rather than Promotion. One of his brand mantras says: 'Advertising
must be used in the right proportion, like salt.' And this shift in perspective could help
save money. "Ad agencies don't like me for this reason," he smiles, "I tell
clients that if you can get free publicity, why pay for it?" The last A is Affordability
instead of Price.
On the face of it, these dictums seem to be common sense. As applied to market realities. "Sure these are home truths," he admits, "but how many apply it?" Moreover, the basics always sound fairly simple on paper. The trick lies in understanding
the true import of the shift in perspective, and then making it work. Developing a
'consumer focus' is not a question of merely acknowledging the consumer's importance.
Samsika's success has promoted many marketing minds to try setting themselves up as
consultancies. A few years ago, few would have imagined that this was a viable
specialisation. But now, Kapoor expects his billings to double every two years.
One high-potential area, apart from infotech (which has started turning market-savvy in
the FMCGs sense, of late), adds Kapoor, is that of Fast Moving Consumer Services (FMCSs).
New ideas are bound to come up, he feels. "Why can't we have franchised, branded
barber shops?" he asks.
Old-fashioned as it sounds, Samsika wants to project his business, and marketing in
general, as an activity based on complete honesty. "Some people think marketing is a
con game," he regrets, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Actually, it boils
down to understanding the target consumer.