Despite being products for just about everything you can imagine, there are just 10 different types of products. These are distinguished by the target buyer, the buyer’s behavior, and the purpose of the product. Four product types are consumer products and the other six are kinds of industrial products. It’s important to understand what category your own products fall under to optimize your marketing strategy.
1. Convenience Products
Products that consumers buy frequently or as soon as they need a refill, often with little thought, are convenience products. These are the items consumers purchase most often and include items that are essential, inexpensive, and accessible. Buyers tend to choose the same option every time they need to make a purchase and any comparison with other options is minimal.
The fact consumers rarely try another brand makes it extra challenging for you to compete with a new product. Buyers are only likely to switch to your offering if your marketing catches their attention or if they are unable to find their regular choice.
Creating compelling ads (without too much information) and placing your products near the checkout line are effective strategies. Above all, though, you need to make sure your product is available wherever target customers shop. Since costs are already low for convenience products, competing on price point is unlikely to bring you success.
It’s also important to note that consumers do view different types of products in different ways, which can impact how willing they may be to switch to another brand. To understand this, we can further divide convenience products into:
- Staples — In this subcategory, we have products that consumers purchase the most often. Customers tend to be reasonably brand loyal, simply because it saves them time when shopping.
- Impulse buys — Staples are items on a shopping list; impulse buys are products consumers decide to purchase in the moment. The purchase is the result of a sudden desire to satisfy a need.
- Emergency products — Another type of product consumers purchase without having intended to previously are emergency products. These differ from impulse products in two ways: consumers may realize the need before they see the product and the need these products solve is a problem rather than a craving.
2. Shopping Products
Most people make a distinction between grocery shopping and “shopping.” As well as products like clothing, electronic devices, and furniture, this category encompasses expensive items like cars and even property.
The personal nature of choices, the expense, and the fact they are more one-off than regular purchases means consumers tend to spend much more time researching and comparing options. This could mean comparison shopping online, talking to salespeople, or asking friends for their opinions. To come to a decision about what to buy, consumers will think about aspects including price, quality, features, style, and suitability to their needs.
You can use all the above to your advantage by providing consumers with plenty of information about your products through marketing. This should include why your product is worthwhile, how it will make the customer’s life better, and the qualities that make it superior to anything else on the market. Content marketing and word-of-mouth marketing are two of the top strategies to use to your advantage.
When figuring out your marketing strategy, you should also be aware that products fall into two subcategories:
- Homogeneous — Shopping products that are homogenous are those that consumers tend to think of as being much the same in all regards except price. Home appliances are an example of this.
- Heterogeneous — Products that consumers do consider different from each other are heterogenous. Differences may be real or they could be customers’ perceptions. What matters is that, to influence customers purchasing decisions, you exemplify the qualities of your product more than price. Furthermore, you should have several versions of your product to suit the different needs of various customers and your sales team must be able to recommend the right option.
3. Specialty Products
When you have a one-of-a-kind offering — when nothing else is quite like your product — you have a specialty product. Any product with strong brand recognition or unique characteristics is part of this category. For instance, consumers may have an affinity for a particular make of car, always purchase the same gourmet groceries, or be loyal to a particular electronics brand.
The challenge for your brand when you offer specialty products is innovation. Consumers already think your product is better than anything from your competitors — you need to ensure they find the next version you release just as (or even more) appealing. If features stop progressing or you fail to keep up with the latest trends and technologies, even the most loyal customers may switch sides.
4. Unsought Products
The final type of consumer products is unsought products. These are items that consumers are unaware exist, have never considered buying, or feel no excitement about buying. Unless you expound the benefits of your offering, consumers will continue to ignore it. This category encompasses everything from reference books and house alarms to batteries.
Many products that today fall into one of the above categories were once unsought products. Marketers did such a good job at presenting their need that the products became mainstream. This includes everyday items like microwaves and electric kettles.
The most suitable marketing strategy for your own unsought products will depend on what exactly you’re offering. For instance, you may be able to frame a product as necessary to protect consumers in an emergency. Alternatively, you could show how a product will enrich customers’ lives. Whatever angle you choose, aggressive marketing is necessary.
5. Raw Materials
Next, we come to the industrial product categories. The first of these is raw materials. This covers minerals, farm products (including livestock), natural gas, forest products (like wood and pulp), and other products that lose their unique characteristics when they’re transformed into a final product. If you’re selling agricultural products, it’s likely you use an intermediary who processes the goods for you or ships them to the user. If you have natural products, you likely sell them directly to industrial users.
6. Component Parts
Products that you sell already processed, but that are not alone the finished product, are component parts. These are fitted into the final product without being changed and are often invisible. Normally, companies sell these parts directly to industrial uses. Buyers tend to be most interested in price and service, but there is little emphasis on brand.
7. Capital Goods
Anything used directly in a production process is a capital good. This includes installations (like machinery and even entire buildings) and accessory equipment (such as tools and office equipment). If you are producing capital goods, you most likely use an intermediary to market the products for you. This tends to be necessary because each individual buyer makes only a small purchase and you need to cover a large area to make sufficient sales.
8. Major Equipment
Industrial products that enable another company to manufacture, process, or sell its own goods fall under major equipment. Machinery, vehicles, engines, computers, and other items that have a useful life of more than one year are all types of major equipment.
7. Accessory Equipment
Similar to major equipment is accessory equipment. These are items that buyers use to make their own products but don’t form part of the end result, including tools involved in the manufacturing and sales process. The main difference from major equipment is that accessory equipment is less durable.
10. Operating Supplies
Finally, we have operating supplies. These are products a company needs for its operations and uses quickly. They are similar to convenience products, just for an industrial purpose. Examples include stationery, maintenance items, and spare parts.
You’ll improve the chances you’re able to dominate the market — no matter what type of products you’re selling — if you focus all your efforts on your products. Outsource the work that doesn’t require your expertise to a virtual assistant.