Product in Marketing: Meaning and Types
A product may be defined as a set of tangible, intangible and associate attributes capable of being exchanged for a value with the ability to satisfy consumers and business needs. It is anything that can be offered to a market to satisfy the needs or wants of the customer. The products that are marketed include physical goods, services, experiences, events, person, place, properties, organization, information and ideas.
Many authors define the term ‘product’ in the following manner:
- Philip Kotler: “A product is anything that can be offered to a market for attention, acquisition, use or consumption. It includes physical objects, services, personalities, place, organizations and ideas.”
- Alderson: “A product is a bundle of utilities consisting of various features and accompanying services.”
- Schwartz: “A product is something a firm markets that will satisfy a personal want or fill a business or commercial need and includes all the peripheral factors that may contribute to consumer’s satisfaction.”
- William J. Stanton: “A product is a set of tangible and intangible attributes, including packaging, colour, price, manufacturers and retailers prestige and services, which the buyer may accept as offering satisfaction of wants and needs.”
- Rustam S. Davar: “A product may be regarded from the marketing view point as a bundle of benefits which are being offered to consumers.
Thus, we can say a product is both what a seller has to sell and what buyer has to buy. Buyer will buy a product which can offer him expected satisfaction.
Levels or Dimensions of Product
A product has many dimensions beside its physical appearance. In fact, a product is like an ‘onion’ with several layers and each layer contributes to the total product image. According to Philip Kotler, “The consumers will favour those products that offer most quality, performance and features.”. Philip Kotler has described the five levels of products.
These are discussed below
Core Benefit (or product)
This is the basic level that represents the heart of the product. Here, the focus is on the purpose for which the product is intended. It answers the question ‘What is the buyer really buying? For instance, a woman doesn’t purchase a washing machine merely because of its machinery but for her comfort and praise from her family. Likewise, we buy a warm coat to protect us from the cold and the rain. Thus, the basic job of marketing manager is to sell the core benefits of the product.
The second level of the product, the tangible product (also called the actual, physical or formal product) is the physical product or service offered to consumers. This represents all the characteristics of the product like quality, features, design, brand name, packaging, etc. For example, we buy a warm coat which has a good quality material, rain repellent ability, fit and high-quality fasteners, etc.
At this level, a marketer prepares an expected product, a set of attributes and conditions buyer normally expect when he purchase the product. For example, when we purchase a coat, it should be really warm, protect us from the weather and the wind and be comfortable when riding a bicycle.
This level is supported by additional customer services and benefits. In other words, it exceeds customer expectations. For example, when we purchase a freeze, we not only see its style, trendy colour and fashion brand but also its service, warranty and safe-home delivery, etc. Thus, we can say, this dimension of product is very important for a firm operating in a competitive market.
The last level of product is its potential part i.e. all the unexpected changes in technology, attributes, features, styles, colour, grade, quality, etc. that might change the characteristics and structure of company in future are taken into account. For example, as per the needs & demands of customers, IT companies changes the processing speed of computer, laptops, smart phones, etc. to remain competitive in the market.