Product is considered to be one of the most critical elements of the marketing mix. Distribution, promotion, and pricing strategies depend very heavily upon what the product is, its attributes, and its function. There are many misconceptions about what a product is. Therefore, attention must be directed to defining a product and the product mix.
Without a proper appreciation of what these terms mean from a marketing perspective, understanding the strategies needed to introduce and maintain a product in the marketplace successfully is almost impossible. Also, products fall into different categories, each of which demands different attention from the marketer.
Therefore, a knowledge of product categories is essential for the pursuance of an appropriate marketing strategy.
Meaning of Product
In general, defining a product does not appear to be especially difficult. After all, calculator, television, automobile, trouser, canned fruit, vegetable are all products in a traditional sense.
For example, automobiles are blends of metal, glass, plastic, rubber, and other materials formed into products for carrying people where they want to go. Trousers are collections of fabric, thread, buttons, and zippers combined into products used to protect people from the elements of nature.
But, these very shallow definitions of products do not adequately convey what a product is.
In the past, products were defined in terms of their components or attributes, or the functions they performed, and as a result, they were viewed strictly in their tangible sense.
Contemporary marketing executives no longer accept this traditional definition. They define a product as a combination of tangible and intangible attributes providing need-satisfaction to consumers.
A product can also be defined as anything that can be offered to the market for attention, acquisition, use, or consumption that might satisfy a want or need. These are distinctly broader definitions, as shown in an exhibit on the next page, more accurately conveying what products are and what they are supposed to do.
You should realize, for example, that consumers do not buy automobiles solely for transportation, but also for
the ‘new car smell’, and the status of owning a new model. Similarly, a piece of trouser is chosen not just for protection or to conform to social customs against nudity, but also for its fashion value.
Thus, a product is much more than just a collection of its functional attributes. In reality, the functional aspects may be of only minor importance. Intangible attributes of the product can frequently be more critical in the mind of consumers.
Marketers should actively consider the social-symbolic meanings that potential customers may attach to a product. This is particularly important for products that are consumed or used in public or social settings.
As a result, intangibles such as brand name and style affect the consumer’s status and possibly even membership in a particular social class. You should know that the modern view of a product is very broad.
It reflects a realization that consumers do not buy products; they buy satisfaction. Contemporary marketing executives now recognize that a product does not have to be a physical entity. They consider services as products in every sense of the definition.
Classification of Products
Generally, two board types of products are;
- Consumer Products (convenience products, shopping products, specialty products, unsought products).
- Industrial Products (capital goods, raw materials, component parts, major equipment, accessory equipment, operating supplies, and services).
Levels of Product
Product is the heart of the marketing mix; it is what finally makes or breaks a marketing campaign. Understanding the levels of products helps to design the actual product and helps to develop the marketing mix.
Marketers need to understand that the concept of “product” is not simple A particular product has 5 levels;
- Core benefit.
- Generic product
- Expected level
- Augmented product.
- Potential product
Products encompass a wide range of goods, services, ideas, and personalities. Getting the product right is the single most important activity of marketing. The basic product concepts and definitions will be discussed first in this unit.