The total product [product considerations]
After completing this chapter you should be able to demonstrate and understanding of the various factors that marketing practitioners must consider when making strategic and tactical product decisions.
The P in COMP factors
Product considerations are the P in COMP factors. At this point of themarketingconcept [e-book] it should now be apparent that COMP factors influence all decision-making for both the customer and the organisation. KEEP IN MIND that the customer and the organisation view the COMP factors from their own perspectives. So far we have discussed COMP factors in the philosophy and theory sections – late we will discuss it from an application perspective where we explore it from as an integral part of the business-marketing planning process.
As we have previously stated, all 3 mega-marketing concepts are interlocked and it is important to recognise that the total product spans all 3-time zones of the buyer decision process with an emphasis on the 2nd time zone – product delivery. In the total product module, we will explore how an organisation crafts a product to address the mutual objectives of the customer and the organisation’s objectives, in particular the strategic objectives of product leadership and organisational efficiency.
The total product has 3 chapters
The first chapter explores the product considerations; these are the product characteristics and the milli-concepts that marketing practitioners must consider when designing, developing and delivering a new or existing product. An understanding of the product considerations is important as it assists marketing practitioners to collect the information needed for a product audit within a marketing audit. This information is then considered during the CADDIE business marketing planning process.
The total product - an exploded view
When you consider that the total product is the totality of what the organisation delivers to the customer, many marketing practitioners would agree that the total product is one of the most important concepts in business. It is the sum of what an organisation delivers to customers in all time zones – what is expected, what is delivered, what are the costs, and what is evaluated.
The total product [product considerations]
The total product is the basis for organisational success or failure. Furthermore, an organisation’s products are continually monitored by an organisation’s competitors and, therefore, the total product is the motivator for all marketplace competition. Marketing practitioners who cannot produce a total product with a unique product value proposition are often subjected to a cycle of discounting.
Two sides to product considerations
There are two sides to product considerations – the organisation and the customer. However, for may students their limited experience in business is such that they tend to take an organisations view and not pay sufficient attention to how a marketing practitioner would manage a product through the total product and through the product considerations.
Consumers also consider products
When you think of a product – e.g., a refrigerator – a consumer will only consider this product when they need a new refrigerator. However, to a marketing practitioner within an organisation manufacturing refrigerators their career success is dependent on how the total product and the product considerations are managed.
Consumers also consider products
Although consumers consider products when purchasing their list of considerations is considerable shorter than the marketing practitioners.
The P in COMP
You may recall from the buyer decision process that the situational factors will influence the consumers decision-making – when searching, estimating and selecting products. As situational factors influence consumer decision making they also impact on an organisations ability to achieve their marketing objectives.
To better understand the situational factors we provided the acronym of COMP – you may also recall that the P in COMP factors is Product.
This chapter is a chapter of convenience – by that I mean that instead of having product sub-concepts, theories, and constructs throughout the e-book I have brought them together in one chapter – for convenience. When marketing practitioners conduct a product audit they consider all the factors that influence their product[s] – what makes their product unique – what they must measure and manage – what they must communicate internally and externally.
Arranging all of the product considerations in one chapter just makes sense.
Product strategy comes in 2 flavours
Porter puts forward the view that when analysed – all strategy relates to perceived value. Where value is either a product with a low price with limited product augmentation or a product with a higher price with the appropriate augmentation. Therefore, organisatons must choose one of two strategies to go to market.
Product strategy & buyer decision-making
Consumers enter an exchange and consider value as what do I receive if I spend less and what do I receive if I spend more.
Types of consumer demand
Consumer demand related to the product is an area that requires careful consideration. Product benefits may appeal to the whole of market, a segment of the market, or segments of the market. We discuss this in greater detail in the application sector, however, often the market has heterogeneous demand and requires different products for different segments. Therefore organisations may choose to serve a segment or multiple segments of the market.
Tools to better understand a product
When an organisation has multiple products they often map a product – one tool is the BCG product matrix.
Activity: The garden centre
In class we often employ this activity to identify different product considerations. As this activity involves a Scottish Garden Centre with a particularly good restaurant as part of the product the example highlights a number of hidden considerations.
Product life cycle
It is important to highlight that for a product to be launched on to the market it needs to have successfully progressed through the new product development process. Therefore, the product life cycle should not be seen as a stand-alone concept, but, the life cycle of a product that has successfully progressed through the new product development process and the organisation believes that it should be offered to consumers [NPD is discussed in greater detail in section 3].
All product have a life cycle
Most marketing practitioners are familiar with product adoption and product life cycle; however, many fail to see the overlapping relationship between the concepts. Perhaps, this is because the product adoption concept has five adopter types and product life cycle concept has four stages. However, they are very closely related and it is beneficial to consider them jointly. Marketing practitioners consider product adoption and product life cycle when making a number of strategic and tactical decisions [e.g., including market segmentation, market selection, communication, and pricing].
All products have a life cycle
As a keen photographer I often find abandoned cars irresistable to photograph. However, as a marketing academic it is in my nature to speculate about how this car was once trundling down an assembly line, then shipped to Australia, in a car showroom, purchase with such joy as only a new car can provide, provided years of service until one day it was parked under a tree – perhaps needing some mechanical attention only to be forgotten and a nuisance and a financial burden.
Keep your eye on the product
Even once great companies have fallen victim to ignoring product life cycle considerations. The quest to best satisfy requires organisations to remain vigilant on customer demands and market competitors.
Product life cycle- strategy & tactics
Rogers theory is a little confusing so it is important to recognise there are 5 adopter types, 4 life cycle stages and 3 communication tactics.
Rogers proposes that there are 4 stages of the PLC – introduction, growth, maturity and decline. Clearly, no two product progress through the 4 stages at the same pace. The different stages require different communications tactics and it is suggested that initially to appeal to innovatorsand early adopters there is a focus on product features then to appeal to the early majority and late majority a focus on customer benefits and then to appeal to the laggards a focus on price.
Product life cycle- strategy & tactics
It is pretty difficult to strategically discuss a product without discussing its position on the product life cycle and it is pretty difficult to discuss a product if you don’t understand the broad nature of the adopter groups for that product and at a particular point of the PLC. Furthermore, it is also difficult to discuss pricing tactics if you are unsure of how different adopter groups perceive value.
Rogers proposes that there are 5 adopter groups. The first group of adopters are innovators. If you consider technology products it is likely you know someone who ‘has to have’ the latest products. The last adopter group is laggards if you consider technology products it is likely you know someone who is considering Facebook.
There are always exceptions
When we consider products – like vintage cars we can see that this car may have had a number of owners, I stress this as we must carefully consider the COMP factors and not assume that marketing theory is consistent across all products.
Some products have more than one life cycle
There are many retailers that specialise in secondhand goods, sometimes these are memorabilia shops or vintage clothing shops but this is an important market. Think about the market for established homes.
Product adoption and diffusion
Roger employs a virus metaphor to describe how product are diffused through the different groups. It spreads though one group of similar consumers [Group A] until there is an overlap with another group [Group B] and then is adopted by that group and so one.
Leading the pack
It is generally considered that there are patterns to adoption within a group and we learn and adopt through observing those who we believe have higher status in a particular field. In this photograph I discuss how cyclists take their consumption cues from those they believe have greater status [fr a variety of reasons] in the field of cycling.
Designing, developing, and delivering a product
The first chapter explores the product considerations; these are the product characteristics and the milli-concepts that marketing practitioners must consider when designing and developing a new product or managing an existing product. An understanding of the product considerations is important as it assists marketing practitioners to collect the information needed for a product audit within a marketing audit. This information is then considered when designing and developing a marketing plan and implementing a marketing action plan. Furthermore, this information is also critical when designing, developing and introducing a new product to the market.
One of the most enduring theories is Copeland  theory on product classification. The general idea is that products may be classified as belonging to one of three classifications; each with a set of characteristics [NB: this will also vary according to customers], The three classifications are convenience, shopping and specialty – in 2011 the author of the e-book introduced another classification – seminal products – product that have a profound effect and change the life of a consumer.
Convenience products are consumer products that are frequently purchased and consumed within a relatively short time [also referred to as consumables], purchasing is often a habit and, often, few competing products are considered, the buyer decision process is simple, and little physical and mental effort is expended to complete the purchase. Although some convenience products are considered necessities [e.g., milk, detergent, toothpaste] others are ‘little luxuries’ ‘treats’ [e.g., chocolate, magazines].
Shopping products are consumer products that are purchased less frequently than convenience products [this is a generalisation – as some ‘teenagers’ live at home and purchase few convenience products and the bulk of their spending is on shopping products]. Shopping products require a greater degree of customer-product involvement, as consumers will consider a number of factors in their decision-making, such as – price comfortability, quality, value, features and benefits, and brand associations. Therefore, shopping products take more time and effort than convenience products
Specialty products are also consumer products they tend to be more durable [consumed over longer periods] and purchased less frequently than both convenience products and shopping products [a person may buy a tub of ice-cream each week, however, may only buy a fridge every 7 years or so]. Generally, there is more customer-product-organisation involvement with specialty products.
Product characteris vary across classifications.
In this slide we see how margins, availability, personal selling, inventory levels, and problem solving vary according to the classification and this provides guidance to marketing practitioners on where to place marketing effort.
In my PhD research I uncovered, by chance, a fourth classification and then when aware of this classification found other examples including how for many [not all] going to university is a seminal [life changing product].
Seminal products are characterised by three liminal states – pre-liminal > liminal > post-liminal. Seminal products are products where there are distinct markers in a person’s life a time before the product, a time experiencing the product, and a time after the product.
The 4 classifications
The 4 product classifications are identifiable on this slide.
Other product classifications
We have discussed product classification by convenience, shopping, specialty, and seminal, however there is another classification methodology identifying whether a product is a consumable or a durable. Consumables are products that are purchased and consumed within a short period of time. Many convenience products could be classified as consumables. Durables are products that purchased and consumed over a longer period of time [whitegoods and automobiles]. Convenience products are often consumables and shopping and specialty products are often durables. Furthermore, the consumable durable classification is generally applied to goods dominant products.
A product category is the constellation of products that may satisfy a need. A walk through an electrical retailer will provide an overview of how the retailer organises their shop by product category. Examples could be computers, hi-fi, mobile phones, cameras, and whitegoods. Products are arranged in product categories to make shopping and buying easier. Consumers often consider the constellation of products within a product category during the purchase behaviour stage of the buyer decision process.
Later in this module we will discuss how goods dominant products may actually be purchased for the service that the product provides – a refrigerator provide the service of keeping perishables cool and fresh. Therefore, it make sense that whilst the recipient may be a customer [a person] it may also be a possession. This adds a new dimension that must be considered.
B2B or B2C ... ?
This is a trick question, however, it is an important question. Many student immediately answer B2C. This suggest that they are still viewing marketin as a consumer. This product is also B2B as there are a number of channel partners who provide value adding services to get the product to the end consumer [B2C]. The takeaway is that as a marketer you should think deeply about products.
Whilst some products are made then sold – manufactured at one location and sold in another. Other products require the customer to be present therefore the producer and the consumer are inseparable.
When a product [e.g., a haircut] requires input from the consumer it is generally considered that the consumer is a co-producer of the product.
We tend to think of consumables as perishable, however, there are many other examples that are perishable not by spoiling but by not being able to be stored. In the case of the bus tour – today’s unsold seats cannot be sold tommorrow.
Therefore if some products are not sold they are not delivered and not consumed and this represents a lost opportunity.
Clearly the airline industry is one where capacity and demand must be carefully managed.
People and service are product components and both are variable. People vary in their levels of skill but people also vary depending on mood.
Later in this module we will discuss how product always have 5 components and often 6 [goods, services, ideas, experiences, people, and place] and how some are material and are easier to evaluate than non-material product components].
In this slide we can identify how material and non material product properties vary across different products.
Some products [enabling service components] are visible to the consumer, however, others are back-stage and out of sight. They are still critical, however, they tend to be out of sight and out of mind and only considered when they are not performed. Blue printing will be discussed later in this section.
Many products are composites of a number of parts – sometime we refer to this as an aggregate product – for example building a home requires many different goods and services to come together to form the finished product. When completed the components cannot be removed from the finished product. For example the shipping services that deliver clothing [e.g., a shirt] cannot be identified in the clothing, they are part of the cost and therefore price. Hidden services are often only visible when not or poorly performed.
Sume product are sought after whilst others are unsought. In this slide the Vespa motor scooter is shown and it is interestiong how a ‘dusty’ unsought product can be reborn and sought after.
Some products are mentally intangible, for example I have no idea how a computer works, yet from a functional perspective I can understand the performance and benefits of one over another, therefore, although in some regards a computer is mentally intangible the benefits are very easy to understand and comprehend. From an aesthetics perspective I can evaluate one computer against another – therefore, intangible-tangible construct is better described as material and non-material qualities. Products that are easy to comprehend are easier to promote.
Furthermore, product considerations are the product characteristics that marketing practitioners must consider when designing and developing a new product or managing an existing product. An understanding of the product considerations is important as it assists marketing practitioners to collect the information needed for a product audit, a marketing audit for the collect and analyse stages of the business planning process [see CADDIE]. Understanding the product characteristics are also critical when designing, developing and delivering a new product to the market and when designing and developing a marketing plan and implementing a marketing action plan.
Often when people talk about conducting market research it may be that this involves researching the product considerations. The e-book provides a list of typical product considerations that a marketing practitioner may consider – keep in mind this will be contingent on the nature of the product.
In this activity we look at the product consideration of product perishability. There are a few considerations in this activity, one of the key ideas is the need to manage the salespipeline of attract, retain and enhance.
In this activity we look at the product consideration of product perishability. The basic premise is – if a product is services dominant product and it is not sold then it is not produced and as the service component[s] cannot be warehoused then the opportunity for an exchange is lost – this is often referred to as perishability.