Sunday, December 5, 2010

What is a Product?

What is a Product?

Source: Jacques Chevron, Jacques Chevron and Associates

Boy! Talk about taking something for granted! I mean, who doesn't think they know what a product is? I used to think I knew what a product was, until someone accused me (quite correctly) of being a "product marketer". What's a product marketer, I asked? My friend said, "It's someone who is so infatuated with his own products he can't begin to see what he's really selling." I was hurt, because I thought I was really hot stuff (can you believe it? Humble me?). I later came to understand what my friend was saying, which can be summarized in a very simple way as follows. --Prentis Hall

A Product Has Three Parts:

The Product Itself

What is the physical product itself like? How big is it? How much does it cost? How does the package look? Unfortunately, this is the happy hunting ground of your typical industrial marketing type. Many, particularly those at higher levels, don't see enough customers and tend to underplay issues which they feel are out of their control. One of the side effects of product infatuation is lower prices, since there tends to be a belief among these types that customers are also infatuated with the product.

The Image

The classic example is the Mercedes Benz. Most people know, deep in their hearts, that a Mercedes isn't worth all that much money. Yet, people feel good when they own one. Owning a Mercedes is a symbol of having "arrived," and of being able to afford a certain standard of luxury. The physical attributes of the car aren't really important to Mercedes buyers. Another example is Tiffany's. People line up and pay top dollar just to buy something at Tiffany's, so they can take it home in one of those blue boxes. When you give someone a gift from Tiffany's, even if it's something you could buy anywhere, it says"I really care about you enough to buy the very best."

The Service

Have you ever dreaded buying a new car because you didn't want to deal with the salesman? Or have you ever bought something and paid a little extra for it becaue you liked the people who sold it to you? Have you ever bought a service contract for a product that was still under warranty? All of these examples show how people make decisions on whether or not to buy, where to buy, or how much to pay based on things that have nothing to do with the physical or the image, but something else entirely.

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