Product Mix

Unit 2

Product Mix

2.1 Introduction

Product is the first and most important element of the marketing mix. Product strategy calls for making coordinated decisions on product mixes, product lines, brands, packaging and labeling.

Most companies sell more than are product. Their product mix can be classified according to width, length, depth and consistency. These four dimensions are the tools for developing the company’s marketing strategy and deciding which products lines to grow, maintain, harvest and divest.

Strong products shard be grown or maintained weak and/or unprofitable lines shard be harvested or divested. To analyze a product line and decide how many resources shard be invested in that line, product line manages need to look at the line’s sales and profit and market profile.

A company can change the product component of its marketing mix by lengthening its product via line stretching or line filling. By modernizing its products; by featuring certain products and by proving its products to eliminate the least profitable.


2.2 Meaning of a product

A product is anything that can be offered to satisfy a need or want.

A product consists of as many as there components: Physical good(s) service(s) and idea (s).

Products that are marketed include physical goods (automobiles, books etc), service (concerts, professional advice), persons (Mr A, B, C), places (Langano, Sodere), organizations. (Health association, social clubs(, and ideas (family planning, safe driving) etc.



In planning its market offering, the marketer needs to think through five levels of the product. Each levels adds more customer value, and the five constitute of a customer value hierarchy. The most fundamental levels is the core benefit: the fundamental service or benefits that the customer is really buying. I.e., a Hotel gust is buying "rest and sleep." Marketers must see themselves as benefit providers.

At the second level, the marketer has to tern the core benefit into a basic product. Thus a hotel room includes a bed, bathroom, towels, desk, dresser and closet.

At the third level, the marketer prepares an expected product, a set of attributes and conditions that buyer normally expect and agree to when they purchase this product. For example, hotel guests expect a clean bed, fresh towels, working lumps, and a relative degree of guiet. Since most hotels can meet this minimum expectation, the traveler normally will have no preference and will settle for whichever hotel is most convenient or least expensive.  

At the fourth level, the marketer prepares an augmented product that meets the customers' desires beyond their expectations. A Hotel can augment its product by including a remote control television set, fresh flowers, rapid check-in, express check-out, fine dining and room service and so on.

Today's competition essentially takes place at the product augmentation level. (In less developed countries, competition takes place mostly at the expected product level). Product augmentation leads the marketer to look at the buyers total consumption system: the way the purchaser of a product performs the total task of whatever it is that he or she is trying to accomplish when using the product. In this way, the marketer will recognize many opportunities for augmenting its offer is a competitively effective way. According to Luitl:

The new competition is not between what companies produce in their factories, but between what they add to their factory output in the form of packaging, services, advertising, customer advise, financing, delivery arrangements, warehousing, and other things that people value.

However, something should be noted about product augmentation strategy. First, each augmentation costs the company. The marketer has to ask whether customers will pay enough to cover the extra cost. Second, augmented benefits soon become expected benefits. Thus hotel guests today expect a remote control television set and other amenities in their room. This means that competitors will have to search for still further features and benefits to add to their offer. Third, as companies raise the price of there augmented product. Some companies along side the growth of five hotels.

At the fifth level stands the potential products, which encompasses all the augmentations and transformations that the product might ultimately undergo in the future. While the augmented product describes what is included in the product today, the potential product points to its possible evolution. Here is where companies search aggressively for new ways to satisfy customers and distinguish their offer. The recent emergence of all site hotels where the guest occupies a set of rooms represents an innovative transformation of the traditional hotel product.

Some of the most successful companies add benefit to their offering that not only satisfying customers but also surprise and delight them. Delighting is a matter of exceeding the normal expectations and desires with in anticipated benefits.  Thus the hotel guests find candy on the pillow, or a bowl of fruit, or a video recorder with optional video tapes.



Each product is related to certain products. The product hierarchy stretches from basic needs to particular items that satisfy these needs. We can identify seven levels of the product hierarchy. Here we define and illustrate them for life insurance.

  1. Need family: The core needs that underlies the existence of a product family. I.e., security.
  2. Product family: All the product classes that can satisfy a core need with reasonable effectiveness. I.e., savings and income
  3. Product class: A group of products within the product family recognized as having a certain functional coherence. I.e., financial instruments
  4. Product line: A group of products within a product class that are closely related because they perform a similar function are sold to the same customer groups, are marketed through the same channels or fall within given price ranges. I.e., Life insurance.
  5. Product type: A group of items within a product line that share one of several possible forms of the product. I.e., Term life.
  6. Brand: The name, associated with one or more items in the product line, that is used to identify the source or character of the items. I.e., Prudential
  7. Item: (also called stock keeping until or product variant). A distinct unit with in a brand or product line that is distinguishable by size, price, appearance, or some other attribute. I.e., Prudential renewable term life insurance.

The other terms are frequently used with respect to the product hierarchy. A product system is a group of diverse but related items that function in a compatible manner. A product mix (product assortment) is the set of all products and items that a particular seller offers for sale to buyers.


2.5 Product classification

Marketers have traditionally classified products on the basis of varying products characteristics: durability, tangibility, and use (consumer or industrial).  Each product type has an appropriate marketing mix strategy.

   2.5.1 Durability & Tangibility

Products can be classified into three groups, according to their durability and tangibility. Durability

Products based up on Durability could be classifies as   Durable and Non-Durable goods

Non-durable goods

Non-durable goods are tangible goods that normally are consumed in one or few uses.  i.e. soap, beet etc. since these goods are consumed quickly and purchased frequently, the appropriate strategy is to make them available in many locations, charge only a small mark up, and advertise heavily to induce trail and build preference. Durable Goods

Durable goods are tangible goods that normally service many uses.  i.e.  refrigerators, machine tools, clothing etc.

Durable products normally require more personal selling and service, command a higher margin, an require more seller guarantees.

   2.5.2 Tangibility

Products further more could be classified based upon tangibility. On this basis we could find: Tangible and Intangible Products

Intangible Product (Service)

Intangible products (Service) are those products that cannot be touched, seen, felt etc.

Services are intangible, inseparable, variable, and perishable.  So as a result they normally require more quality control, supplier credibility, and adaptability.  e.g. repairs, professional services.

Tangible Products

Tangible products are those products that can be seen ,touched ,felt etc. E.g Refrigerator, Car, Stereo

   2.5.3 Use

Products further could be classified based up on their use. Accordingly they will be classified as: Consumer Goods and Industrial Goods

Consumer -Goods classification

Consumers buy a vast array of goods.  These goods can be classified on the basis of consumer shopping habits.  They can be classified as convenience, shopping, specialty and unsought goods.

Convenience goods: are goods that the customers usually purchase frequently, immediately, and with a minimum of efforts, i.e. soaps, newspapers, etc.

Convenience goods can be further divided into staples, impulse goods, and emergency goods. Staples are goods that customers purchase on a regular basis. I.e., Tooth paste. Impulse goods are purchased on impulse, without any planning or search effort. These goods are usually displayed widely. Thus candy bars and magazines are placed next to check out counters because shoppers may not have thought of buying them until they spot them.

Emergence goods are purchased when a need is urgent – umbrella during a rainstorm, boots during the first winter snow term. Manufacturers of emergence goods will place them in many outlets so as to capture the sale when the customer needs them.

Shopping goods: are goods that the customer, in the process of selection and purchase, characteristically compares on such bases as suitability, quality, price, and style.  i.e. furniture, clothing, cars & major appliances etc. Shopping goods can be divided into homogeneous goods and heterogeneous goods. The buyer sees homogeneous shopping goods as similar in quality but different enough in price to justify shopping comparisons. But in shopping for clothing, furniture and other heterogeneous shopping goods, product features are often more important to the consumer than the price. The seller of heterogeneous shopping goods must therefore carry a wide assortment to satisfy individual tastes and must have well-trained sales people to provide information and advise to customers.

Specialty goods: are goods with unique characteristics and/or brand identification for which a significant group of buyers is habitually willing to make a special purchasing effort i.e. specific brands and types of fancy goods, cars stereo components, photographic equipment etc.

Unsought goods: are goods that the consumer does not know about or knows about but does not normally think of buying?  New products, such as smoke detectors, food processors, are unsought goods until the consumer is made aware of them through advertising.  The classic examples of known but unsought goods are life insurance, cemetery plots, gravestones, & encyclopedias etc.

Industrial goods classification

Organizations buy a vast array of goods and services.  Industrial goods can be classified in terms of how they enter the production process and their relative costliness. They are classified as: material & parts, capital items, and supplies and business services.

Materials and parts

Are goods that enter the manufacturer's product completely?  They fall into two classes: raw materials, and manufactured materials and parts.  

  • Raw materials fall into two major classes:
     -  Farm products - wheat, cotton, livestock, fruits etc, and
     -  Natural products - fish, lumber, crude petroleum etc.
  • Manufactured materials and parts divided into two categories:
     - Component materials - Iron, yarn , cement, wires and
     - Component parts - small mortars, tires, casting etc.

Capital Item:

Are long-lasting goods that facilitate developing and/or managing the finished product? They include installation and equipment.

Installations consist of building (i.e. factories & offices) and equipment (i.e. generators, drill presses, computers, elevators).  Installations are major purchases.  They are usually brought directly from the producer, with the typical sale preceded by a long negotiation period.

Equipment comprises portable factory equipment and tools (hand tools, life trucks) and office equipment (e.g. personal computers, desks).  These types of equipment do not become part of the finished product.

Supplies and Business Services are short-lasting goods and services that facilitate developing and/or managing the finished product.

Supplies are of two kinds: operating supplies (e.g. lubricants, coal, writing paper, pencils) and maintenance and repair items (paint, nails, brooms): supplies are the equivalent of convenience goods in the industrial field; they are usually purchased with a minimum effort on a straight re-buy basis.

Business services include maintenance and repair services (e.g. window cleaning, typewriter repair etc.) and Business advisory service (e.g. legal, management, consulting, advertising) maintenance services are often provided by small producers, and repair services are often available from the manufacturers of the original equipment.

Business advisory services are usually purchased in new task-buying situations, and the industrial buyer will choose the supplier on the basis of the supplier's reputation and people.


2.6 Product Planning and Development

Guided by a company's new-product strategy, a new product is best developed through a series of six stages.

The formal development of new products provides benefits such as higher success rates, increased customer satisfaction, and greater achievement of time, quality, and cost objectives for new products.

Stages of the new product development process

  1. Generating new product ideas
    New product development starts with an idea.  A system must be designed for stimulating new ideas within an organization and then acknowledging and reviewing them promptly.  Customers should also be encouraged to propose innovations.
  2. Screening ideas
    At this stage, new product ideas are evaluated to determine which one warrant further study.  Typically, a management team screens the pool of ideas.
  3. Business Analysis
    A surviving idea is expanded in to a concrete business proposal.  This means management (a) identifies product features (b) estimates a market demand, competition, and the products profitability (c) establishes a program to develop the product, and (d) assigns responsibility for further study of the products feasibility 
  4. Prototype development
    If the result of the business analysis is feasible, then a prototype (or trail model) of the product is developed.  In the cases of goods, a small quantity of the trail model is manufactured to designated specifications.
  5. Market tests
    Unlike the internal tests conducted during prototype development, this test involves actual customers.  A new tangible product may be given to a sample of people for use in their households (in the case of consumer good) or their organization (a business good).  Following this trail, consumers are asked to evaluate the product.  Consumers use tests are less practical for services due to their intangible nature.
    This stage in new product development often entails test marketing, in which the product is placed on sale in a limited geographic area.  Results, including sales and repeat purchases, are monitored by the company that developed the product and perhaps by competitors as well.
  6. Commercialization
    In this stage, full-scale production and marketing programs are planned and finally, implemented, up to this point in development, management has virtually complete control over the product. 


2.7 Product Line and Product Mix

   2.7.1 Meaning of Product Line

A broad group of products, intended for essentially similar uses and having similar physical characteristics, constitutes a product line.

   2.7.2 Meaning of Product Mix

The set of all products offered for sale by a company is a called a product mix.

The structure of a product mix has both breadth & depth.  Its breadth is measured by the number of product lines carried, its depth by the variety of sizes, colors, and models offered with in each product line.


2.8 Product mix Strategies

To be successful in marketing, producers and middlemen need carefully planned strategies for managing their product mixes.

The major product mix strategies include:

- Positioning                            - Alteration

- Expansion                             - Contraction

   2.8.1 Positioning the Product

Positioning means developing the image that a product projects in relation to competitive products and to the firm's other products. A company must try to identify the specific way it can differentiate its products to obtain a competitive advantage.

Differentiation is the act of designing a set of meaningful differences to distinguish the company’s offering from competitors offering.

How exactly can a company differentiate its market offering from competitors? Here we will examine how a market offering can be differentiated along time dimensions: - product, services, personnel, channel or image.

Product Differentiation

Differentiation of physical products takes place along a continuous. At one extreme we find highly standards products that allow little variation. At the other extreme are products capable of high differentiation, such as automobiles, commercial holdings, and furniture. Here the seller faces an abundance of design parameters. The main product differentiations are features, performance, conformance, durability, reliability, reparability, style and design.

       1. Features: -

Features are characteristics that supplement the products basic function. The starting point of feature differentiation is a stripped down, or “bare bones”, version of the product. The company can create additional version by adding extra features. Thus automobile manufacturers can offer optional features, such as electric windows, air bags, automatic transmission, and air conditioning. Each features has a chance of capturing the fancy of additional buyers.

How can a company identify and select appropriate features? One answer is for the company to contact recent buyers and ask them a series of questions. How do you like the product? Any bad features? Good features? Are there any features that could be added that would improve your satisfaction? What are they? How much would you pay for each feature? How do you feel about each of several features that other customers suggested?

This research will provide the company with a long list of potential features. The next task is to decide which features one worth adding.

       2. Performance Quality

Most products are established initially at one of four performance levels, low, average, high and superior.

Performance quality refers to the level at which the products primary characteristics operate.

The important question here is: Does higher product performance produce higher profitability?

Quality’s link to profitability does not mean that the firms should always design the highest performance level possible. There are diminishing returns to level increasing performance, in that fewer buyers are willing to pay for it. The manufacturer must design a performance level appropriate to the target market and competitor’s performance levels.

A company must also decide how to manage performance quality through time. Three strategies are available here. The first, where the manufacture continuously improves the product, often produces the highest return and market share.

The second strategy is to maintain product quality at a given level. The third strategy is to reduce product quality through time. Some companies cut quality to offset rising costs, hoping the buyers will not notice any difference. Others reduce the quality deliberated by in order to increase this current profits, although this course of action often hurt this long run profitability.

     3. Conformance Quality

Buyers expect products to have a high conformance quality.

Conformance quality is the degree to which all the produced units are identical and meet the promised target specifications.

Suppose a Porsche 933 is designed to accelerate to 50 miles an hour within 10 seconds. If every Porsche 933 coming off the assembly line does this, the model is said to have high conformance quality. However, If 933s vary greatly in their acceleration time, they have low conformance on this criterion. The problem with low conformance is that the product will felt to deliver on its promises to many buyers.

     4. Durability: - 

Durability is a very important product attribute to most buyers.

Durability is a measure of the product’s expected operating life under natural and/or stressful conditions.

Buyers will generally pay more for products that have more durability. However, this rule is subject to some qualifications. The extra price must not be exclusive. Further more, the product must not be subject to technological obsolescence, in which case the buyer may not pay more for longer-lined products.

     5. Reliability

Buyers normally will pay a premium for product with more reliability.

Reliability is a measure of the probability that a product will not manufacture or fail within a specified time period.

Buyers want to avoid the high costs of product breakdowns and repair time.

     6. Reparability: -

Buyers prefer products that are easy to repair.

* Reparability is a measure of the ease of fixing a product that manufactures or fails.

Thus an automobile made with standard parts that are easily replaced has high reparability. Ideal reparability would exist if users could fix the product themselves with little or no cost or time lost. The buyer might simply remove the defective part and insert a replacement part.

     7. Style: -

Buyers are normally willing to pay a premium for products that are attractively styled. Style describes the product’s looks and feel to the buyer.

Many car buyers pay a premium for jaguar automobiles because of this extraordinary look, even though Jaguar had in the past a poor record of reliability.

Style has the advantage of creating product distinctiveness that is difficult to copy. Under style differentiation, we must include packaging as a styling weapon, especially in food products, cosmetics, toiletries, and small-consumer appliances.

The package provides the buyer’s first encounter with the product and is capable of turning the buyer on or off.

     8. Design

As competitions intensify, designs will offer one of the most patent ways to differentiate and position a company’s products and services.

Design is the totality of features that affect how a  products look and functions in terms of customer requirements.

Design is particularity important in making and marketing desirable equipment, apparel, retail services and packaged goods. All of the qualities we’ve discussed under the meaning “Product differentiation are design parameters. The design has to figure out how much to invest in feature development, performance, conformance, reliability, reparability, style and so forth.

Marketing executives can choose from a variety of positioning strategies.  Sometimes they decided to use more than one for particular products.  Several types of positioning includes

        i) Positioning in relation to a competitor

        ii) Positioning in relation to a product class or attribute

        iii) Positioning by price and quality

        iv)  Positioning in relation to a target market


   2.8.2 Product Mix Expansion

Product mix expansion is accomplished by increasing the depth with in a particular line and/or the number of lines a firm offers to consumers.

When a company adds a similar item to an existing product line with the same brand name, is termed as line extension.

Another way to expand the product mix, referred to as mix extension.  Under a mix extension the company is to add a new product line to its present assortment.

The new line may be related or unrelated to current products.  Furthermore, it may carry one of the company's existing brand names or may be given a entirely new name.

The product strategies of trading up and trading down involve a change in product positioning and an expansion of the product line.

Trading up means adding a higher price product to a line to attract a broader market.  Also the seller intends that the new product's prestige will help the sale of its existing lower price products.

Trading down means adding a lower-price product to a company's product line.  The firm expects that people who cannot afford the original higher price product or who see it as too expensive will buy the new lower-price one.


   2.8.3 Alteration of Existing Products

Product alteration is often improving an established product.  Product alteration can be more profitable and less risky than developing a new one.  Redesigning the product itself can sustain its appeal or even initiate its renaissance.  Alternatively, especially for consumer goods, the product itself is not changed but its packaging is altered.


   2.8.4 Product Mix Contraction

Another product strategy, product mix contraction, is carried out either by eliminating an entire line or by simplifying the assortment with in a lien.  Thinner and/or shorter product lines or mixes can weed out low-profit and unprofitable products.  The intended result of product-mix contraction is higher profits form fewer products.

As firms find that they have an unmanageable number of products or that various terms or lines are unprofitable, or both, product-mix pruning is likely.


2.9 Product Identification

   2.9.1 Brand

In developing a marketing strategy for individual products, the seller has to confront the branding decision, branding is a major issue in product strategy.  On the one hand, developing a branded product requires a great deal of long-term investment spending, especially from advertising, promotion, and packaging.

Perhaps the most distinctive skill of professional marketers is their ability to create, maintain, protect, and enhance brands, marketers say that  "Branding is the art and cornerstone of marketing."  The American marketing association defines a brand as follows: - Meaning of a Brand

"A Brand is a name, term, sign, symbol, or design, or a combination of them, intended to identify the goods or services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of competitors".

A brand is essentially a seller's promise to consistently deliver a specific set of features, benefits, and services to the buyers.

A brand name is the part of brand consisting of words, letters, and/or numbers that can be vocalized.  A trademark is defined as a brand that is given legal protection.  Therefore, trademark is a legal term meaning the words, names, or symbols that the law designates as trademarks. Brand Name Selection

A good name can add greatly to a products' success.  However, finding the best brand name is a difficult task.  It begins with a careful review of the product and its benefits, the target market and proposed marketing strategies.

Desirable qualities for a brand name includes:-

  • It should suggest something about the product's benefits & qualities

  • It should be easy to pronounce, recognize, and remember. The brand name should be distinctive
  • It should be capable of registration and legal protection

Once, chosen, the brand name must be protected.  Many times try to build a brand name that will eventually become identified with the product category.

Brand sponsor: -

A manufacture has certain sponsorship option; as illustrated below,

  1. Manufacturer's brand
    The product may be launched as a manufacturer's brand (or national brand), as when the manufacturer sells its output under its own brand names.
  2. Private brand:
    The manufacturer may sell to reseller who give it a private brand (also called a store brand or distributor brand).
  3. Licensed brand:-
    The manufacturer may produce some output under its own name and some under distributors labels. Brand Strategy

A company has four choices when it comes to brand strategy, which are as follows:-

i) Line extension:

Line extension occur when a company introduces additional items in the same product category under the same brand name, usually with features, such as new flavors, forms, colors, added ingredients, package sizes, and so on.

ii) Brand Extension

A company may decide to use an existing brand name to launch a product in a new category.  Brand extension strategy offers a number of advantages.  A well-regarded brand name gives the new product instant recognition and earlier acceptance. It enables the company to enter new product categories more easily. 

i.e. Sony puts its name on most of its electronic products and instantly establish a connection of the new products high quality.

iii) Multi brands:

A company will often introduce additional brands in the same product category.  There are various motives for doing this.  Sometimes the company is trying to establish different features and/or appeal to different buying motives. 

A multi branding strategy also enables the company to lock up more distributors shelf space and to protect its major brand by setting up flanker brands.

For example, Seiko establishes different brand names for its higher priced (Seiko LaSalle) and lower-priced watch (pulsar) to protect its flanks.

iv)  New brand

When a company launches products in a new category, it may find that none of its current brand names are appropriate.

v) Co-brands

A rising phenomenon is the appearance of co-branding (also called dual branding), is which two or more well-known brands are combined in an offer.  Each brand sponsor expects that the other brand name will strengthen brand preference or purchase intention.  In the case of co-packaged products, each brand hopes it might be reaching a new audience by associating with the other brand. Advantages of Branding

  1. The brand name makes it easier for the seller to process orders and track down problems.  Further more, he seller find it easier to trace the order if it is misshaped, or to determine why the beer was rancid if consumes complain.
  2. The seller's brand name and trademark provide legal protection of unique product features, which competitors would otherwise be likely to copy.
  3. Branding gives the seller the opportunity to attract a loyal and profitable set of customers.  Brand loyalty gives sellers some protection from competition and greater control in planning their marketing program
  4. Branding helps the seller segment markets.
  5. Strong brands helps build the corporate image, making it easier to launch new brands and gain acceptance by distributors and consumers.

There is evidence that distributors want manufacturers; brand names because brand makes the product easier to handle, hold production to certain quality standards, strengthen buyer's preferences, and make it easier to identify suppliers.  Consumers want brand names to help them identify quality differences and shop more efficiently.


   2.9.2 Packaging

Even after a product is developed and branded, strategies must still be developed for other product related aspects of the marketing mix.  One such product feature, and a critical one for some products, is packaging, which consists of all activities of designing and producing the container or wrapper.  Thus packaging is a business function and a package is an item. Meaning of Packaging

Packaging can be defined as follows:

"Packaging includes the activities of designing and producing the container or wrapper for a product."

The container or wrapper is called the package.  The package might include upto three levels of material.  Thus, old spice, after shave lotion is in bottle (primary package) that is in a cardboard box (secondary package) that is in a corrugated box (shipping package) containing six-dozen boxes of old spice.

In recent times, packaging has become a potent marketing tool.  Well-designed packages can create convenience value for the consumer and promotional value for the producer.

A product must be packaged to meet the needs of wholesaling and retailing middlemen.  For instance, a packages size and shape must be suitable for displaying and stacking the product in the store. Advantages of Packaging

Packaging and the resulting package are intended to serve several vital purposes.

i) Protect the product on its way to the consumer:-

A package protects products during shipment. Furthermore, it can prevent tampering with products, notably medications and food products, in the warehouse or the retail store.

ii) Provide protection after the product is purchased:-

Compared with bulk  (that is unpackaged) items, packaged goods generally are more convenient, cleaner, and less susceptible to losses form evaporation, spilling and spoilage.

iii) Be part of a company's trade marketing program:-

A product must be packaged to meet the needs of wholesaling and retailing middlemen.  For instance, a packages size and shape must be suitable for displaying and stacking the product in the store.

iv) Be part of a company's consumer marketing program:-

Packaging helps identify a product and thus may prevent substitution of competitive product.  At the point of purchase such as supermarket aisle - the package can serve as a 'silent sales person'

Ultimately, a package may become a product's differential advantage, or at least a significant part of it.  In the case of convenience goods and operating suppliers buyers feel that are well-known brand is about as good as another.  Thus a feature of the package - reusable jar, self-contained applicator etc, might differentiate these types of a product.

In general, packaging provides the following advantages:-

   i) It physically protect the products from damage, theft, pilferage

   ii) It helps in identifying the products

   iii) It encourages impulse buying

   iv) It is used as an advertising media

   v) It serves as an information tool

   vi)  It serves as a sales tool

When packing, the following points should be considered:

   i) Product description:-

The package is expected to show not only what the product is, but also what it does in terms of benefits it gives the promotional message.  This could be done using words or pictures.

   ii) Product image-

The packaging material ought to match the image of the product inside.  Highly prestigious products and inferior products should be packed differently.

   iii) Product value

The pack is often designed to make its contents look more than they really are in terms of value a small value item looks huge in certain packages.

   iv)  Shelf display

It is also important products are packed in such a way that they occupy small space, they are protected from shocks damages, their shelf life increases, they are protected from pilferage. Criticism of Packaging

Packaging in the public eye today, largely because of environmental issues, specific concerns are:

i) Packaging depletes natural resources:

This concern has been addressed through the use of recycled materials in packaging.  A point in favor of effective packaging is that it minimizes spoilage, thereby reducing a form of resource waste.

ii) Packaging is too expensive

Even it seemingly simple packaging, such as for soft drinks, as much as one-half of the production cost is for the container. Still, effective packaging reduces transportation costs and spoilage losses.

iii) Packaging is deceptive

Government regulations plus greater integrity on the part of business firms regarding packaging have alleviated these concerns to some extent.

iv) Used and discarded packaging contributes significantly to the solid waste problem etc.

Marketing executives are challenged to address these criticisms.  At the same time, they must retain or even enhance the positive features of packaging, such as product protection, consumer convenience, and marketing support.


   2.9.3 Labeling

Labeling which is closely related to packaging is another product feature that requires managerial attention. Meaning of Labeling

A label is a part of a product that carries information about the product and the seller.  A label may be part of the package, or it may be a tag attached to the product.  Obviously there is a close relationship among labeling, packaging, and branding. Types of Labels

Labels fall into three primary kinds:

i) A brand label:-

It is simply the brand name applied to the product or package.

ii) A descriptive label

It gives objectives information about the products' use construction, care, performance, and/or other pertinent features ingredients and nutritional contents.

iii) A grade label

It identifies the products judged quality with a letter, number, or word.  Canned peaches are grade labeled A,B,C, corn and wheat are grade labeled 1 & 2.

Brand labeling is an acceptable form of labeling, but it does not supply sufficient information to a buyer.  Descriptive labels provide more product information but not necessarily all that is needed or desired by a consumer in making a purchase decision. Functions of Labeling

Labeling performs several functions.  Some of which are illustrated below:-

  • The label identifies the product or brand
  • The label might also describe several things about the product, which made it, where it was made, when it was made, its contents, how it is to be used, and how to use it safely.
  • The label might promote the product through attractive graphics In general the label may contain:

Other want-satisfaction product features may contain product quality, color, design, and warranty. Contents of a Label

  • Brand name
  • Name & address of manufacturer
  • Weights, measures, contents
  • Direction of proper use
  • Precaution on safety use
  • Recipe on food products
  • Nutritional guidelines
  • Wholesale & retail prices
  • Ingredients
  • Manufacturing & expiry date
  • Gross & net weight


2.10 New Product Adoption and Diffusion

The likelihood of achieving success with a new product, especially a really innovative product is increased if management understands the adoption and diffusion process for that product. Once again, we are stressing that organizations needs to understand how consumers behave. The adoption process is the set of successive decisions on individual makes before accepting an innovation.

Diffusion of a new product is the process by which an innovation spreads throughout a social system over time.

By understanding these processes, an organization can gain insight into how a product is or is not accepted by consumers and which groups of consumers are likely to buy a product soon after it is introduced, later on or never. This knowledge of consumer behavior can be valuable in designing an effective marketing program


   2.10.1 Stages in Adoption Process

A prospective user goes through six stages in the adoption process – deciding whether to purchase something new:

  1. Awareness: individual is exposed to the innovation. Becomes a prospect
  2. Interest: prospect is interested enough to seek information
  3. Evaluation: prospect judges the advantages and disadvantages of a product
  4. Trial: prospect adopts the innovations on a limited basis. A consumer buys a sample, if the product can be sampled
  5. Adoption: prospect decides whether to use the innovation on a full scale basis
  6. Confirmation: after adopting the innovation, prospects becomes a user who immediately seeks assurances that decision to purchase the product was correct.


   2.10.2 Adopter Categories

Some people will adopt an innovation soon after it is introduced. Others will delay before accepting a new product, and still others may never adopt it. Research has identified five innovation adopter categories, based on the point in time when individuals adopt a given innovation.

  1. Innovators
    Innovators representing three percent of the market, innovators are venture some consumers who are the first to adopt an innovation. In relation to later adopters, innovators are likely to be younger, have higher social status, and be in a better financial shape.
  2. Early Adopters
    Early adopters comprising about 12 percent of the market, early adopters purchase a new product after innovators but sooner than other consumers. Unlike innovators, who have broad involvement outside a local community, early adopters tend to be involved socially with in a local community. Early adopters are greatly respected in their social system. In fact, other people are interested in and influenced by their opinions.
  3. Early majority
    The early majority, representing about 23 percent of the market, includes more deliberate consumers who accept an innovation just before the average adopter in a social system. This group is a bit above average in social and economic measures. Consumers in the early majority group rely quite a bit on ads, sales people, and contact with early adopters.
  4. Late majority
    The late majority another 23 percent of the market is a skeptical group of consumers who usually adopt an innovation to save some money or in response to social pressure from their peers. They rely on their peers – late or early majority – as sources of information. Advertising and personal selling are less effective with this group than is word of mouth communication.
  5. Laggards
    Laggards are consumers who are bound by tradition and, hence are last to adopt an innovation. They comprise about 15 percent of the market. Laggards are suspicious of innovations and innovators. They wonder why any one would pay a lot more for a new kind of light bulbs, for example. By the time laggards adopt something new, the innovators in favor of a newer concept may already have discarded it.

Time of Adoption of Innovations



Introducing a new product at the proper time will help maintain a company's desired level of profit. Striving to maintain its dominant position in the market, the company has to face that challenge often.

However, any product moves though identifiable stages, each of which is related to the passage of time and each of which has different characteristics.

The Life cycle of a product consists of four stages:

Introduction, Growth, Maturity and Decline. A product life cycle consists of the aggregate demand over an extended period of time for all brands comprising a generic product category.


   2.11.1 Characteristics of Each Stage

Management must be able to recognize what part of the life cycle its product is in at any given time. The competitive environment and marketing strategies that should be used ordinarily depend on the particular stage.

  1. Introduction
    During the introduction stage, a product is launched into the market in a full-scale marketing program. It has gone through product development, including idea screening prototype and market tests.
    This introductory (Sometimes called pioneering) stage is the most risky and expensive one, because substantial amount of money spent in seeking consumer's acceptance of the product.
  2. Growth
    In the growth stage, or market acceptance stage, sales and profit rises, often at a rapid rate. Competitors inter the market, often in a large numbers if the profit outlook is particularly attractive. Mostly as a result of competition, profits start to decline near the end of the growth stage.
  3. Maturity
    During the first part of the maturity stage, sales continue to increase, but at a decreasing rate.  When sales level of profits of producers and middlemen decline, the primary reason: Intense price competition. During the latter part of this stage, marginal producers, those with high costs or with out a deferential advantages are forced to drop out of the market. They do so because they lack sufficient customers and /or profits.
  4. Decline
    For most products, a decline stage as gauged by sales volume for the total category is inevitable for one of the following reasons:
       - The need for the product disappears.

    Better or less expensive product is developed to fill the same need

    People simply tired of a product (a clothing style for instance)

    So it disappears from the market. 

The concept of product life cycle is very important in modern marketing. Steps in planning and development of products, why new product fail? And strategies used on every stage of the life cycle is illustrated as follows:


   2.11.2 Marketing Strategies Through Out the PLC Introduction Stage

Because it takes time to roll out a new product and fill dealer pipeline, sales growth tends to be slow at this stage. There are several causes for the slow growth: delays in the expansion of production capacity; technical problems; delays in obtaining adequate distribution through retail outlets; and customer reluctance to change established behaviors.

Profits are negative or low in the introduction stage because of low sales and heavy distribution and promotion expenses. Much money is needed to attract distributors. Promotional expenditures are at their highest ratio to sales because of the need to:

  1. Inform potential customers
  2. Induce product trial and

  3. Secure distribution in retail outlets.

In launching a new product, marketing management can set a high or a low level for each marketing variable (price, promotion, distribution, product quality). Considering only price and promotion, management can persue one of four strategies.

  1. Rapid Skimming
    Launching the new product at a high price and a high promotion level. This strategy makes sense when a large part of the potential market is unaware of the product; these who become aware of the product are eager to have it and can pay the asking price; and the faces potential competition and want to build brand preferences.

  2. Slow Skimming
    Launching the new product at a high price and low promotion. This strategy makes sense when the market is limited in size; most of the market is aware of the product; buyers are willing to pay a high price; and potential competition is not imminent.
  3. Rapid Penetration
    Launching the product at a low price and spending heavily on promotion. This strategy makes sense when the market is large, the market is unaware of the product, most buyers are price sensitive, there is strong potential competition, and the unit manufacturing costs fall with the company's scale of production and accumulated manufacturing experience.
  4. Slow Penetration
    Launching the new product at a low price and low level of promotion. This strategy makes sense when the market is large, is highly aware of the product, is price sensitive, and there is some potential competition. Growth Stage

The growth stage is marked by a rapid climb in sales. Early adopters like the product, and additional consumers start buying it. New competitors enter, attracted by the opportunities. They introduce new product features and expand distribution.

Price remains where they are fall slightly, depending on how fast demand increases. Companies maintain their promotional expenditures at the same or at a slightly increased level to meet competition and to continue to educate the market. Sales rise much faster than promotional expenditures, causing a welcome decline in the promotion sales ratio.

Profits increase during this stage as promotion costs are spread over a large volume and unit manufacturing costs fall faster than price declines owing to the producer learning effect. Firms have to watch for a change from an accelerating to a decelerating rate of growth in order to prepare new strategies.

During this stage, the firm uses several strategies to sustain rapid market growth as long as possible:

  • It improves product quality and adds new product features and improved styling

  • It adds new models and flanker products (i.e., products of different sizes, flavors, and so forth that protect the main product)

  • It enters new market segments

  • It increases its distribution coverage and enters new distribution channels.

  • It shifts from product-awareness advertising to product-preference advertising

  • It lowers prices to attract the next layer of price-sensitive buyers. Maturity Stage

At some point, the rate of sales growth will slow, and the product will enter a stage of relative maturity. This stage normally lasts longer than the previous stages, and poses formidable challenges to marketing management. Most products are in the maturity stage of the lifecycle, and most marketing managers cope with the problem of marketing the mature product.

The maturity stage divides into three phases: growth, stable, and decaying maturity. In the first phase, the sales growth rate starts to decline. There are no distribution channels to fill. In the second phase, sales flatten on a per capita basis because of market saturation. Most potential consumers have tried the product, and future sales are governed by population growth and replacement demand. In the third phase, decaying maturity, the absolute level of sales starts to decline, and customers begin switching to other products and substitutes.

The sales slowdown creates overcapacity in the industry, which leads to intensified competition. They increased advertising and trade and consumer promotion. They increase R & D budgets to develop product improvement and line extensions.

In the maturity stage, some companies abandon weaker products and concentrate on more profitable products and on new products.

The firm may adopt the following strategies  in order to maintain its survival in the market.

1. Market Modification

The company might try to expand the market for its mature product. They can try to expand the number of product users in three ways:

  • Convert non users

The key the growth of airfreight service is the constant search for new users to whom air carriers can demonstrate the benefits of using airfreight rather than ground transportation.

  • Enter new market segments

Some companies successfully promoted their product to non- users.

  • Competitors Customers

Companies constantly tempting competitors brand users to switch. Volume can also be increased by convincing current brand. Here are three strategies:

  • The company can try to get customers to use the product more frequently: Orange juice marketers try to get people to drink orange juice at occasions other than breakfast time.
  • The company can try to interest users in using more of the product on each occasion: A shampoo manufacturer might indicate that the shampoo is more effective with two applications than one.
  • The company can try to discover new product uses and convince people to use the product in more varied ways: Food manufacturers list several recipes on their packages to broaden co Product Modification

Managers also try to stimulate sales by modifying the product's characteristics through quality improvement, feature improvement, or style improvement.

Quality improvement aims at increasing the product's functional performance – its durability, reliability, speed, and taste. A manufactures can often overtake its competition by launching a "new and improved" product. Grocery manufacturers call this a "plus launch" and promote a new additive or advertise something as "stronger", "bigger" or "better."

This strategy is effective to the extent that the quality is improved, buyers accept the claim of improved quality, and a sufficient number of buyers will pay for higher quality.

Feature improvement aims at adding new feature (for example size, weight, materials, additives, accessories) that expand the product's versatility, safety, or convenience.

This strategy has several advantages. New features build the company's image as an innovator and win the loyalty of market segments that value these features. They provide an opportunity for free publicity and they generate sales force and distributor enthusiasm. The chief disadvantages is that feature improvements are easily imitated; unless there is a permanent gain from being first, the feature improvement might not pay off in the long run.

A strategy of style improvement aims at increasing the product's aesthetic appeal. The periodic introduction of new car models amounts to style competition rather than quality or feature competition. In the case of packaged – food and household products, companies introduces color and texture variations and restyle the package.

A style strategy might give the product a unique market identity. Yet  style competition has problems. First, it is difficult to predict whether people – and which people – will like a new style. Second, a style change usually requires discontinuing the old style, and the company risks losing customers. Consumers may become attached to something as seemingly insignificant as a peanut shell.


2. Marketing – mix modification

Product managers might also try to stimulate sales by modifying other marketing –mix elements. They should ask the following questions.

  • Prices:
    Would a price cut attract new buyers? If so, should the list price be lowered, or should prices be lowered through price specials, volume or early purchase discounts, freight cost absorption, or easier credit terms? Or would it be better to raise the price to signal higher quality?
  • Distribution
    Can the company obtain more product support and display in existing outlets? Can more outlets be penetrated? Can the company introduce the product into new distribution channels?
  • Advertising
    Should advertising expenditures be increased? Should the message or copy be changed? Should the media mix be changed? Should the timing, frequency, or size of ads be changed?
  • Sales promotion
    Should the company step up sales promotion – trade deals, cents off coupons, rebates, warranties, gifts, and contests?
  • Personal Selling
    Should the number or quality of sales people be increased? Should the basis for sales force specialization be changed? Should sales territories be raised? Should sales force incentive be raised? Can sales call planning be improved?
  • Services
    Can the company speed up delivery? Can it extend more technical assistance to customers? Can it extend more credit?

Marketers often debate which tools are most effective in the mature stage. For example, would the company gain more by increasing its advertising or its sales promotion budget?

A major problem with marketing mix modifications especially price reductions and additional services, is that they are easily initiated. The firm may not gain as much as expected, and all firms might experience profit erosion as they step up their marketing attacks on each other. Decline Stage

The sales of most product forms and brands eventually decline. The decline might be slow, as in the case of certain product; or rapid.

Sales decline for a number of reasons, including technological advances, shifts in consumer tastes, and increased domestic and foreign competition. All lead to over capacity, increased price cutting, and profit erosion.

As sales and profit declines some firms withdraw from the market. These remaining may reduce the number of products they offer.  They may withdraw from smaller market segments and weaker trade channels, and they may cut their promotion budget and reduce their prices further.

Some firms will abandon declining markets earlier than others much depends on the presence and height of exit barriers in the industry.

In a study of company strategies in declining industries, companies must identified five decline strategies available to the firm.

  • Increasing the firm's investments (to dominate the market or strengthen its competitive position).
  • Maintaining the firm's investment level until the uncertainties about the industry are resolved.
  • Decreasing the firm's investment level selectively by dropping, unprofitable customer groups, while simultaneously strengthening the firms investment in lucrative niches.
  • Harvesting ("nuking") the firm's investment to recover cash quickly.
  • Directing the business quickly by disposing of its assets as advantageously as possible.

The appropriate decline strategy depends on the industry's relative attractiveness and the company's competitive strength in the industry.


2.12 Summary

Product is any thing that can be offered into the market is exchange for a value that satisfied a human needs and wants.

Product is the first and most important element of the marketing mix. Product strategy calls for making coordinated decision on product mixes, product lines, brands, packaging and labeling.

Products can be classified in several ways. In terms of durability and tangibility, products can be non-durable goods, durable goods or services. In consumer goods category, products are either convenience goods, shopping goods, specialty goods or unsought goods.

In the industrial good category, products fall into one of the three categories; materials and parts, capital items and supplies.

Much strategic decision must be made to manage a company's assortment of products effectively. To start, a firm must select strategies regarding its product mix.

Another strategic decision is whether how to expand the product mix by adding items to a line and/or introducing new line. Alternatively, management may elect a trade up or trade down relative to existing products. Altering the design, packaging, or other features of existing products is still another option among the strategies of selecting the mix.

The product mix also can be changed by eliminating an entire line or by simplifying the assortment within a line.

Executive need to understand the concept of a product lifecycle, which reflects the total sales volume for a generic product category. Each of the cycle's four stages – introduction, growth, maturity and decline has distinctive characteristics that have implications for marketing.

Effective product management involves developing and then maintaining the various features of a product – its brand, package, labeling, design, quality, warranty and post sales service.

A brand is a means of identifying and differentiating the products of an organization. Packaging is becoming increasingly important as sellers recognize the problems, as well as the marketing opportunities, as created with the information about the product and the seller.



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