Consumer goods are characterized as products that are aimed at and purchased by the ultimate consumer.2 Although consumer products are more familiar to most readers, industrial goods represent a very important product category, and in case of some manufacturers, they are the only product sold. The methods of industrial marketing are somewhat more specialized, but in general the concepts presented in this text are valid for the industrial marketer as well as for the consumer goods marketer.
Industrial products can either be categorized from the perspective of the producer and how they shop for the product or from the perspective of the manufacturer and how they are produced and how much they cost. The latter criteria offers a more insightful classification for industrial products.
Farms, forests, mines, and quarries provide extractive products to producers. Although there are some farm products that are ready for consumption when they leave the farm, most farm and other extractive products require some processing before purchase by the consumer. A useful way to divide extractive products is into farm products and natural products, since they are marketed in slightly different ways.
Manufactured products are those that have undergone some processing. The demands for manufactured industrial goods are usually derived from the demands for ultimate consumer goods. There are a number of specific types of manufactured industrial goods.
Semi-manufactured goods are raw materials that have received some processing but require some more before they are useful to the purchaser. Lumber and crude oil are examples of these types of products. Since these products tend to be standardized, there is a strong emphasis on price and vendor reliability.
Parts are manufactured items that are ready to be incorporated into other products, For instance, the motors that go into lawn mowers and steering wheels on new cars are carefully assembled when they arrive at the manufacturing plant. Since products such as these are usually ordered well in advance and in large quantities, price and service are the two most important marketing considerations.
Process machinery (sometimes called "installations") refers to major pieces of equipment used in the manufacture of other goods. This category would include the physical plant (boilers, lathes, blast furnaces, elevators, and conveyor systems). The marketing process would incorporate the efforts of a professional sales force, supported by engineers, technicians, and a tremendous amount of personalized service.
Equipment is made up of portable factory equipment (e.g. fork, lift trucks, fire extinguisher) and office equipment (e.g. computers, copier machines). Although these products do not contribute directly to the physical product, they do aid in the production process. These products may be sold directly from the manufacturer to the user, or a middleman can be used in geographically dispersed markets. The marketing strategy employs a wide range of activities, including product quality and features, price, service, vendor deals, and promotion.
Supplies and service do not enter the finished product at all but are nevertheless consumed in conjunction with marking the product. Supplies would include paper, pencils, fuel oil, brooms, soap, and so forth. These products are normally purchased as convenience products with a minimum of effort and evaluation. Business services include maintenance (e.g. office cleaning), repairs (e.g. plumbing), and advisory (e.g. legal). Because the need for services tends to be unpredictable, they are often contracted for a relatively long period of time.