It is common that introductory marketing textbooks discuss the consumer product classification system, which is a model that helps guide the design of the marketing mix. Note: There are several articles on this website relating to the consumer product classification system – please refer to Related Topics at the end of this article.
As you probably know, the consumer product classification scheme places products into four groups, which are: convenience products, shopping products, specialty products and unsought products.
Note: This article discusses how the consumer products classification system guides the marketing mix for unsought products only. (Please refer to Related Topics at the end of this article for the marketing mix implications for the other categories of products.)
Examples of unsought products include some insurances, charity donations, and some new-to-the-world products – please refer to this article for more examples of unsought products.
Designing the marketing mix for unsought products
As suggested by the category name, unsought products are those products where there is little or no proactive consumer demand. This is because consumers see little benefit in the product, or are unclear about the product benefits, already have existing product solutions in place and see no reason to switch to another alternative.
There are two broad categories of unsought products, the first being new products that the consumer is unaware of or does not fully understand the benefits of a product (perhaps a breakthrough product), and the second being products where there is little or no direct benefit to the consumer (such as a charity donation).
In the first category of unsought products, having product attributes that potentially make the consumer’s life easier and/or provide additional benefits to the consumer are important – the challenge then becoming a promotional mix and communication task.
In the second category of unsought products, it really gets down to the aggressive promotional tactics, such as direct marketing and personal selling, as discussed in the promotional mix section below
Pricing is a slightly disjointed part of the marketing mix for unsought products. There are two pricing approaches to adopt (which are essentially the opposite in nature) depending upon the promotion tactics implemented.
If the promotional mix relies upon “aggressive" promotion (such as, TV direct response, direct marketing, personal selling), then the promotional budget will be relatively high – this will mean that it will be necessary to adopt a pricing skimming approach. Price skimming is charging a high price to cover costs of production, distribution and promotion.
However, some unsought products have limited supporting budgets and may need to rely on penetration pricing, which is charging a very low price – with the long-term goal of winning regular customers who may rebuy the product and spread positive word-of-mouth.
Because these types of products are unsought by consumers, the vast majority of retailers would not be interested in them. As a result, the distribution channels will need to be more direct and personal. Examples would include: insurance agents, door-to-door sales people, commissioned sales representatives, as well as long infomercials (with a direct response phone number) to convince consumers of the benefits.
The successful sale of unsought products primarily relies upon the effectiveness of its promotional mix. More aggressive promotional tactics will need to be adopted. The product offer and its benefits must be actively placed in front of consumers, as consumers do not perceive a need for unsought products.
Some examples of aggressive promotional tactics include: door-to-door sales, street intercept sales, telemarketing, and direct mail. And as we know, late-night infomercials or TV shopping channels may provide a suitable promotional platform.
For very new products that consumers do not yet understand, it will be necessary to focus upon innovators and early adopters, with the intention of generating positive commentary from opinion leaders as well as the media and relevant bloggers.
The consumer products classification system
How products are classified in the consumer products classification system
Examples of the different classes in the consumer products classification system
Why the consumer products classification system is used
The marketing mix for convenience products
The marketing mix for shopping products
The marketing mix for specialty products