As we note in our Product Decisions tutorial, crafting a product is far from being a simple process. Rather marketers must manage numerous decisions involving a number of components that combined to make up the Total product. While most customers may only be familiar with the “actual” product (i.e., that part of the product they physically handle), marketers must also be concerned with other decisions that shape the Total product a customer buys.
One of major decision relates to augmented products, which are product elements that provide additional value for customers. Some augmented product decisions are service based, such as crafting useful guarantee and warranty policies, and tied directly to the product. However, complementary products, which represent additional add-on options that support or provide additional functionality to the actual product, may not necessarily be tied to a specific product. While complementary products add value for the user of the actual product, depending on demand, these can potentially serve as their own actual product.
A good example can likely be seen in this story from Advertising Age. It details a new specialized Wi-Fi-enabled refrigerator being offered by Budweiser. The refrigerator communicates with a specialized mobile app to let the owner know when the refrigerator is running low on, well, beer of course! The app also presents several other features including sending reminders to stock up on beer ahead of when favorite sports team are playing.
While the Bud-e Fridge is directed to brand loyal Budweiser drinkers, nearly any beer can be stocked inside. So the demand for this refrigerator may extend well beyond being a complementary product for Budweiser and could someday become a legitimate stand-alone product with its own complementary products.