What is a Product? Definition, Characteristics, Levels, and Types

What is Product?

A product can be defined as an item that can be offered to the market which can satisfy the market need or want and which is produced through some processes. It consists of various attributes and benefits that can be offered to and liked by consumers.

In simple words, a product is a tangible item that can be offered to potential customers for their use and consumption purposes. A product consists of various aspects – price, name, features, attributes, quality, design, and so on.

Previsulisy, there was an understanding product were only tangible item such as food, and chair, but now it does not only consists of physical items but rather includes service, ideas, etc. which is pioneered and clarified by marketing professors mainly Philip Kotler and also by Veronica Wong, John Saunders, Gary Armstrong. And, of course, that is true. In this broader concept, products could be a tangible thing, an idea, service, place, organization, even you (people), and so on depending upon the situation.

Product is the first and foremost most important component of the marketing mix. In any kind of business firm, it is the center of all kinds of marketing. Any products or services are what any business develops and offers to customers to survive in the marketplace.

While making products every marketer or business needs to make it in a way to satisfies customer needs, and if it fails, no additional expenditure and effort on any other ingredients of the marketing mix will make the acceptable performance of it in the market. That is why the product is called the heart of the marketing mix and its planning plays a vital role in the success of marketing.

While making a product decision process marketer has to make a clear concept of it, he should understand product existence depends upon acceptance. Whatever a product means to a producer does not mean the same to a marketer or a consumer.

From this viewpoint, a product, for the producer, may be the physical object that can be used for further production. For the consumers, it may be a bundle of satisfaction or hope of satisfaction. And, for marketers, it is what it means to target customers.

To be more clear, it can be conceptualized in four primary ways,

  • As a Tangible/Physical Product: A tangible product is being seen and touched. These products’ attributes are in identifiable form. These products have physical space, specific size, weight, etc.
  • As an Extended/Augmented Product: It is a product that consists of more features on its physical entity than a tangible one. As per this, a product does not only have its physical value but also includes images and services. For example, any smartphone, when we purchase it does not only include a mobile set, it also includes a mobile charger, data cable, uses instructions, warranty, etc.
  • As a Service Product: Here, the product is in intangible form. We can not see it or touch it rather we only feel it. For example, when you book a plane ticket, for New York to Nepal. In return, the airline company does not give you an airplane. But, it gives you the service to fly from New York to Nepal. For this, your ticket is acted as a supporting document as evidence.
  • As a Total Product: It is the broadest concept of the products. It is customer-oriented. It focuses on what a product means to a customer, not to the sellers. It is consistent with the marketing concept of marketing. The term total product concept refers to the broad spectrum of the tangible and intangible benefits that a buyer might gain from a product once it is purchased.

Read More: What is Product Positioning?

Characteristics of Product

A product can be tangible or intangible form. It may consist of the following potential characteristics,

  • Name
  • Price
  • Color
  • Style
  • Design
  • Brand name
  • Size
  • Quality
  • Taste
  • Weight
  • Maintenance service
  • Image
  • Prestige or reputation
  • Prompt Services
  • Warranty & Guarantee
  • Delivery (Free or)
  • Durability
  • Efficiency, etc.

Levels of a Product

There are primarily three levels of a product about which a marketer must think. And, each level has a significant value to consumer satisfaction. The levels are:

Core Product

The first level focuses on the core benefits of the products. It focuses on customers and why consumers buy products or services. It is not in any physical form but consists of the quality that can meet consumers’ requirements. For example, the core benefit of a lightbulb is it gives brightness.

Actual Product

In the second level, after making core benefits the marketer must turn the core benefits into a tangible form to make consumers buy and use them. The development of such core benefits into physical form should be done with attributes such as packaging, brand name, quality, price, design, etc.

Read More: 6 Easy Steps For Product Positioning Process

Augmented Product

It is the last level from product levels. As I already mentioned above, it is an additional feature on the actual product. It is an important way to tailor the core or actual product as per the needs or wants of target customers. For example, when you buy a motorbike, the part of the augmented product may be a discount, warranty, after-sales service, etc.

To sum up these levels, for example, when a marketer understands the need or problem of the target customers is a light problem. In his offering, he may put core benefits as giving brightness, which is a core product. In the next task, he turns the core benefits of brightness into a physical form as a bulb, here the physical form of the brightness bulb is the actual product – which is now available and ready to use. And, when you buy this bulb to light your house, the augmented aspect of this light bulb would be a warranty, after-sales service, etc.

For consumers, a product is a bundle of benefits that satisfy their needs. Thus, the marketer needs to identify the core value that the customers are seeking from the products. In addition to that, the marketer must find to augment it.

This concept is perfectly illustrated by Levitt, by him, the competition in the market exists not between what companies produce in their factories, but between what they add to their factory output in the form of packaging, service, quality, promotion, design, style, delivery service, warranty, guarantee, installation, etc.

Types of Products

When we go into the market we find different types of products. However, the types of products are classified based on the buyer and are basically into two types – consumer products and industrial products.

Consumer Products

Read More: 8 Popular Strategies For Product Positioning

These are the products or services that a consumer purchases for personal or household use. The consumer products are being used to purchase for the objective of consumption instead of purchasing for further production. And, consumer products are also of four types;

  • Convenience Products: Convenience products are those for buying such products the consumer does not need to gather any further information as he is already informed about and is inexpensive. For example, regularly buying products such as vegetables, etc.
  • Shopping Products: Shopping products are those while buying such products the consumer lacks some information as such he needs to gather information. For example, furniture, bicycles, clothes, etc.
  • Specialty Products: Specialty products are those to buy them consumers need to have the willingness, to search for information, and also more money such as expensive cars, high-end watches, mobile, etc.
  • Unsought Products: Unsought products are those that are maybe rarely purchased or purchased maybe once in a lifetime. For example, a life insurance policy.

Industrial Products

Industrial products are those which are used to purchase for further production purposes. It may be shopped for both purposes of consumption and reproduction. Industrial products are also classified into three categories:

  • Entering Products: These are the products that are used as input to produce desired products. The entering products may be raw materials and fabricating materials.
  • Foundation Products: Foundation products are those which are used to make the product production process much easier, such as installations, and accessory equipment.
  • Facilitating Products: These are products that are used to make a firm’s operation better but actually, they do not name as the products of the firm. Such as lubricating oils, soaps, repair and maintenance services, etc.

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