On the surface, it seems a product is simply a marketing offering, whether tangible or intangible, that someone wants to purchase and consume. In which case, one might assume product decisions are focused exclusively on designing and building the consumable elements of goods, services, or ideas.
In actuality, while decisions related to the consumable parts of the product are extremely important, the total product consists of more than what is consumed. The total product offering and the decisions facing the marketer can be broken down into three key parts:
As we discussed in the Basics of Marketing discussion, customers seek to obtain something of value from marketers in exchange for their willingness to give up something they value, generally money. What customers obtain are solutions to their needs or, stated another way, they receive benefits. For customers, benefits drive their purchase decisions. Consequently, at the very heart of all product decisions is being able to determine the core benefits a product should provide.
In some cases these core benefits are offered by the product itself (e.g., floor cleaner) while in other cases the benefit is offered by other aspects of the product (e.g., the can containing the floor cleaner that makes it easier to spread the product). Consequently, at the very heart of all product decisions is determining the key or core benefits a product will provide. From this decision, the rest of the product offering can be developed.
The core benefits are offered through the components that make up the actual product the customer purchases. For instance, when a consumer returns home from shopping at the grocery store and takes a purchased item out of her shopping bag, the actual product is the item she holds in her hand.
Within the actual product is the consumable product, which can be viewed as the main good, service, or idea the customer is buying. For example, while toothpaste comes in a package that makes dispensing it easy, the consumable product is the paste that is placed on a toothbrush. But marketers must understand that while the consumable product is, in most cases, the most critical of all product decisions, the actual product includes many separate product decisions including product features, branding, packaging, labeling, and more. Full coverage of several of these important areas is provided later in this tutorial.
Marketers often surround their actual products with goods and services that provide additional value to the customer’s purchase. While these factors may not be key reasons leading customers to purchase (i.e., do not offer core benefits), for some customers the inclusion of these items strengthens the purchase decision while for others failure to include these may cause the customer not to buy. Items considered part of the augmented product include:
This provides a level of assurance that the product will perform up to expectations and, if not, the company marketing the product will support the customer’s decision to replace, repair, or return the product for a refund.
This offers customers a level of protection often extending past the guarantee period to cover repair or replacement of certain product components.
As noted in the Managing Customers discussion, these services support customers through such methods as training, repair, and other types of assistance.
The value of some product purchases is enhanced with add-ons or complementary products. Such items make the main product easier to use or use in more situations (e.g., laptop carry bag), provides more protection (e.g., cellphone case), or extends functionality (e.g., portable keyboard for tablet computers). Complementary products can also include services. For instance, receiving free tire rotation for the life of the tires. .
How customers obtain the product can affect its perceived value depending on such considerations as how easy it is to obtain (e.g., stocked at nearby store, delivered directly to office), the speed at which it can be obtained, and the likelihood it will be available when needed.
Learn More About Product Decisions
- What is a Product?
- What are the Categories of Consumer Products?
- What are the Categories of Business Products?
- What are the Components of a Product?
- What are Product Features and Benefits?
- What is Product Branding?
- What are the Advantages of Brands?
- What are the Different Approaches to Branding?
- What is Involved in Product Packaging Decisions?
- What are the Key Factors in Packaging Decisions?