The ability of the organization to consistently produce new products and effectively manage existing products looms as one of the most important and difficult tasks faced by the company. This chapter provides an overview of the components that constitute a product, and the product planning process.
The process begins with the task of defining the product. In order to provide an accurate portrayal of the product, it is important to consider the perspective of the consumer, the manufacturer, and the various publics. All three perspectives must be understood and satisfied. In addition, the three components of the product are discussed. The core product identifies what the consumer expects when purchasing the product. The tangible product is reflected in its quality level, features, brand name, styling, and packaging. The augmented product is reflected by the services supporting the core/tangible product. The promised product suggests what the product delivers in the long term.
There are also several classification schemes that are useful in improving our understanding of the product into three categories: convenience, shopping, and specialty. A convenience good is one that requires a minimum amount of effort on the part of the consumer. In contrast, consumers want to be able to compare products categorized as shopping goods. Specialty goods are so unique, at least from the perspective of the consumer, that they will go to great lengths to seek out and purchase them.
Another relevant classification scheme has been applied to business goods. Three characteris tics of business products are: (a) demand is derived from purchase of another product, (b) demand tends to be price-inelastic, and (c) tendency toward pure competition. Business products are classified as extractive products and manufactured products.
Goods products versus service products is the final categorization. Although there is still controversy about the validity of this separation, we contend that the differences justify adjustments in the marketing strategy for service products. Services are intangible, require simultaneous production and consumption, cannot be easily standardized, and require high consumer involvement.
This chapter continues with a discussion of the product planning process. Three elements were delineated: (a) the determination of product objective, (b) the identification and resolution of factors that have an impact on the product, and (c) the development of programs appropriate for that particular product. Examples of product objectives, as well as a discussion of the importance of product objectives, are provided. The third element of program development provides the basis for the two chapters that follow. The continuing development of successful new product looms as the most important factor in the survival of the firm. This chapter introduces the concept of a "new" product as well as the process of actually producing a new product.
It is noted that what constitutes a new product must be appraised from both the consumer's point of view as well as that of the manufacturer. In the former case, newness is measured in respect to: (a) degree of consumption modification and (b) the extent of new task experience. The firm defines product in terms of: (a) changes in the marketing mix, (b) modifications, (c) differentiation, and (d) diversification.
New products can be acquired from several internal and external resources. The firm can employ basic research, applied research, and development to develop new products. Or they can use the external route: mergers and acquisitions, licenses and patents, and joint ventures.