4 Important Characteristics of a Product

When a product is intangible, it is called service – like a teacher teaching in your class, consultation with a doctor, injecting by a compounder, an offer of different facilities by a bank, and offering of choice of would-be brides and bride grooms by Bharat Matrimony. When a psychological stimulation is there it an idea – like Delhi Police’ campaign of ‘Lane driving, Sane driving’, or ‘Drive slow, someone is waiting at home drive safely.’

2. A Product is a Bundle of Benefits or Satisfactions:

A product may offer functional, social, and/or psychological benefits. It is because of this reason, same product is positioned differently and different people are appealed differently to consume the product. To illustrate, Michelin Tyres of France in one ad shows a wrestler with a tyre which shows how strong it is. And in another ad a cute baby is shown inside the tyre that shows safety and care.

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Some people travel by Go Air, because it is reliable and punctual, others travel by this airline because it is budget airline. Some people buy car for travel, for others it may be a matter of prestige in their group. Many people buy Armani suit and have a psychological satisfaction that they belong to executive class.

3. A Total Product includes many things:

Total Product consists of more than what is consumed. The product does not mean only core product, but it also includes its supplementary benefits and experiential benefits. Product attributes are however, associated with the core product. In some cases these core benefits are offered by the product itself (e.g., floor cleaner) while in other cases the benefit is offered by other aspects of the product (e.g., the can containing the floor cleaner that makes it easier to spread the product).

Thus the core product comprises the core benefit, like an Internet Service Provider providing the facility of internet connectivity. The supplemental service may include the installation, delivery, training, and financing. Supplemental attributes help the firm to differentiate and compete with others. A total product, thus, comprises hierarchy level – Core benefit, Basic product, Expected product, augmented product, and Potential product.

Kotler et al. have given a customer-value hierarchy to show levels of a product. According to them, each level adds more consumer value.

i. Core Benefit:

The service or benefit the customer is receiving, like rest and sleep while hiring a room in a guest house, or buying holes when purchasing a drill machine. Fundamental to every product is a core benefit. In case of a restaurant, it may be a wholesome tasty meal. In case of car, it may be transport to work or going in for outings. In case of rock music, it may be entertainment, camaraderie, or social protest.

ii. Basic or Actual Product:

A hotel bedroom covers the basic facilities like neat bed, clean bathroom, unlimited water, fan, table, and chair. A basic or actual product is called as generic product as well. Water is a generic product

iii. Expected product:

The facilities customers expect include a clean bed, fresh towels, a relative calm, bad lamp, etc. It is a set of attributes that customers normally expect. Car buyers expect that it will travel at certain speeds, carry a particular number of passengers and their baggage safely, give particular mileage and it will not rust.

iv. Augmented product:

What the customer gets more than his expectations in products like colour TV, shampoo, room slippers, room telephone, etc. According to Theodore Levitt an augmented product is an aggregate of physical, psychological, and sociologic satisfactions.3 Augmented products become the fundamental basis for branding. With more competition, augmented product benefits over time become expected benefits.

v. Potential benefit:

New ways of satisfying consumers and distinguish the offering — like Cable TV service, free breakfast, welcome drink, high speed internet. The potential product refers to evolutionary process through which the product may go. The car of future cars may have mobile office and interactive computers.

4. A Service and a Good usually go together:

There is no difference between a physical product and a service, because both of them offer a bundle of benefits. But there are very few services which do not accompany physical products and there are very few products which do not have an element of service. Most goods and services fall somewhere along a good-service continuum.

Even in case of budget airline travel, a pure service, the ticket and the boarding card are physical documents to prove that you undertook travel. In case of wheat flour bag, though it is a pure physical product, but it has to be stored in a warehouse, it has to be transported and then stocked by a grocery merchant.

Thus, there is no service that is not supported by physical products, and there is no physical product that is not supported by service. Even an idea may be accompanied by physical good (a report) and service (training to personnel of the new practice). VLCC sells idea to get trim, calls you for exercises- giving service, provides you nutritional food to use – a product.