When we think of ‘products’ in a marketing context, the first things that typically come to mind are tangible items – physical goods that one can touch and feel. However, marketing is not confined to only these kinds of items.
Essentially, anything that can satisfy a want or need of the consumer can be labeled as a ‘product’. This includes not only physical goods, but also services, events, not-for-profits, ideas, locations, people, and more.
Defining “What is a Product” in Marketing
So, what constitutes a ‘product’ in marketing terminology? Quite simply, a product is any goods, services, or ideas that a company offers to its customers. It can be a tangible item that you can touch, like an iPhone, or a service that you can experience, just like dining at a fancy restaurant.
Core Layers of a Product
While it may seem straightforward, products are usually broken down into three key components or layers:
- Core product: This refers to the basic function of the item. If we talk about a car, it’s fundamental purpose is transportation.
- Actual Product: This includes the design, features, packaging, and brand name of the product – the aspects that differentiate it from its competitors. In the case of the same car, this would be its sleek design, efficient mileage, high-end audio system, and the brand’s emblem.
- Augmented Product: These are additional services or benefits associated with the product. A warranty or free servicing would be considered part of the augmented product in our car example.
Types of Products
Probably the most common type a marketer will encounter, these are generally products you and I purchase for personal or household use. They can be classified into four categories:
These are items that consumers buy regularly, such as groceries or household utilities. These are items we pick up without much thought, like toothpaste or a pack of batteries. The marketing challenge here lies in placing the product strategically in stores or online, so it can easily be found and purchased.
Here we have items consumers tend to compare before making a buying decision. Consumers spend ample time comparing and considering these items, like furniture, electronics, kitchen appliances, or even clothing
These types of products are unique, high-quality, and often carry higher price tags. Consumers will go to great lengths to acquire them, like a Rolex watch or a luxury car, as well as specialized medical equipment.
Unsought Products: These are products that consumers often aren’t aware they need until a situation arises, such as insurance, fire extinguishers and funeral services.
In contrast to consumer products, industrial products are purchased by businesses for business use. These are often used in the production of goods, and, like consumer products, can be divided into sub-categories:
- Raw Materials: These are base materials like metal, wood, or rubber, which are used to create other products.
- Component Parts: These are parts of a product sold separately, such as computer parts or car engines.
- Process Materials: These aren’t recognizable in the final product, but are essential to the manufacturing process. Think of chemicals used in various industries, like the formaldehyde used in textile manufacturing.
- Supplies: These are items used to facilitate production but don’t become part of the final product, like cleaning supplies or office supplies.
And we also have services – these are intangible products.
They include anything from haircuts to accounting services or even e-learning courses. Marketing services can be tricky. After all, they are intangible and hence can’t be physically examined prior to purchase. Consequently, marketers should focus on trust-building and demonstrating quality in their promotion strategies.
Knowing the type of product you’re marketing will help define your strategy. Whether you’re promoting convenience items, high-end products, industrial supplies, or services, understanding your product’s category will provide valuable insight into consumer behavior and potential marketing opportunities. Remember, the more alignment between your product and its target audience, the more successful your marketing efforts will be.
Strategies for Different Product Types
It’s crucial to understand that the marketing strategies employed will largely depend on the nature of the product being marketed. Let’s take a look at a few examples:
Marketing Convenience Products
Convenience products, such as soft drinks or bread, are items that consumers purchase frequently and with minimal effort.
The marketing strategy for such products generally focuses on widespread distribution and media advertising to establish a brand image and encourage impulse buying.
Take Coca-Cola, for example. It is available everywhere, right ranging from high-end restaurants to roadside stalls, and their catchy adverts sure do live rent-free in our minds!
For convenience products, it’s more about availability and visibility than anything else.
Marketing Shopping Products
Unlike convenience products, shopping products like appliances or formal wear are bought less frequently, and consumers invest more time comparing prices or features before making a purchase.
Strategies here could include high-profile branding, targeted advertising, and associating the product with high quality or prestige. Apple’s strategy for marketing its iPhone range, with an emphasis on sleek design and innovative features, is a classic example.
For shopping products, highlighting unique product features and advantages is the key.
Marketing Specialty Products
Specialty products, such as luxury cars or designer clothes, require a distinctive marketing approach.
These products have unique characteristics or brand identification for which a substantial group of buyers are willing to make a special purchasing effort.
These are typically marketed in select locations, with a strong focus on personal selling and exclusivity. Rolls-Royce prioritizing quality and heritage in their marketing is a perfect example here.
Specialty products call for the ‘less is more’ approach – less widespread, more exclusive.
Marketing Unsought Products
Unsought products like life insurance or funeral services are things consumers don’t usually think of buying unless the need arises.
Marketing strategies for these products often involve a lot of personal selling or advertising to educate consumers about the product benefits.
Geico’s humorous and informative ad campaigns are examples of effective marketing of an unsought product like insurance.
Unsought products require marketers to create the need – and fill it.
Marketing B2B Products
Marketing strategies for business products – be they raw materials, component parts, process materials, or supplies – need to be different than the approach for consumer products.
The target market for these products is other businesses, not end-consumers. Marketers focus on the product’s utility, performance and, often, long-term contract relationships.
With B2B marketing, specific benefits and long-term relationships are prioritized.
The Role of Product Marketing
Product marketing is the process of bringing a product to market and managing its overall success. This involves:
- Understanding customer needs and demands.
- Positioning the product effectively in the marketplace.
- Developing captivating messages to foster engagement and drive sales.
The primary goal is to ensure a product meets the customer’s needs and subsequently sells.
Benefits for Consumers
- Informative: Product marketing educates consumers about the value of a product, its features, and how it fulfills a need or solves a problem. Information is power, making consumers more knowledgeable, and equips them with the facts to make informed purchasing decisions.
- Access to New Products: Without marketing, many valuable and innovative products might never reach target consumers. It accelerates awareness, spark interest, and drives demand.
- Competitive Pricing: Marketing fuels competition, an essential catalyst in ensuring fair and competitive pricing. Companies must ensure price points are attractive versus rivals to win market share.
Benefits for Businesses
Product marketing serves as a catalyst for businesses:
- Increases Sales: By communicating product benefits, engaging the target audience, and implementing strategic pricing, marketing drives sales and revenue.
- Builds Brand Image: Well-executed marketing helps build a positive brand image, increases customer loyalty, and fosters long-term growth.
- Facilitates Market Expansion: Product marketing helps businesses explore new markets and customer segments, potentially leading to increased sales and customer base.
Positive Impact on Society
Product marketing contributes positively to society, proving beneficial beyond economic growth:
- Encourages Innovation: When a company launches a unique product, competitors often strive to match or surpass it, which leads to technological advancements and improved quality of life.
- Job Creation: As product sales increase, businesses often expand, leading to job creation. Moreover, the marketing industry itself employs millions.
- Economic Growth: The chain reaction of sales and employment results in macro-level benefits, boosting economic activity and contributing to societal progress.
The marketing of products, regardless of their nature, play a pivotal role in our global economy.
They create a bridge between those offering a specific product and those seeking it, enabling an exchange of value.
Understanding the intricate nuances of the various types of products and knowing how to market them effectively is a key skill in the world of marketing. Whether it’s a physical good, a service, an event, an idea, or a person, marketing has the power to create demand, drive sales, and ultimately, to shape society’s perceptions and experiences.