1 Products, services and branding
Marketing was initially developed to aid the sale of products and services. By the 1960s most marketing activity centred around consumers, focusing on the sale of products and services that individuals like you or your families might buy. Before long, the concept of the marketing mix emerged to describe the marketing tools available to organisations. Sometimes referred to as the four Ps of marketing, the toolkit comprises the product, price, promotion and place (marketing channels). Three additional ‘Ps’ are important in services marketing: process, physical evidence and people. The process refers to the way in which a service is created. For example, the process involved in providing meals for home delivery will differ from the process involved in serving dinner in a restaurant. Physical evidence refers to the ambience and setting where the service takes place. The restaurant setting is an important element in choosing a dining experience. People often play a key role in service delivery. While waiting staff can affect satisfaction in a restaurant, people are a key element in services such as hairdressing, financial advice and nursing.
Whether they are MP3 players or, teabags, driving lessons or insurance policies, the products and services which firms sell are at the heart of their marketing activities. Considerable care must be taken by marketers to ensure that they carefully manage the products for which they have responsibility. When new products are developed, a systematic process must be followed to ensure that the offerings are fit for purpose and desirable in the eyes of customers. For example, a manufacturer of ready meals will thoroughly test new recipes before introducing them to the market, just as a law firm will check that its offerings include all of the features expected by customers.
Managing the overall portfolio of products and services is another area where dedicated attention is needed. This involves knowing when the time is right to introduce a new product, but also making difficult decisions to discontinue offerings which have reached the end of their lives and which are no longer deemed desirable by customers. Although these decisions might not be popular with all customers, they often must be made in the firm’s best interest. As a consumer, you will be aware of these kinds of decisions through the changing mix of products on offer in your local supermarket.
In this course, you will find out about how organisations manage their products and services. This will include learning about how new products are developed and how the existing portfolio of offerings is managed. The particular characteristics of service products will be explained so that you understand the impact that these features have on how services are managed. You will also find out more about brands and the use of branding. The following specific areas are covered in this course:
- understanding what a product is, the various levels which make it up, and different types of products
- how products can be classified, and the nature of the product line and product mix.