In my recent article, I introduced us to the four Ps of production. Here, I'd like to elaborate on the concept of product as a marketing function. The term product is often interpreted narrowly to mean goods offered for sale. But in the marketing context, it includes "physical objects, services, persons, places, organizations and ideas".
The enterpreneur as marketer must recognize the importance of paying attention to the different dimensions of a product. The most commonly encountered products fall into either the physical product or the service category. The two categories are seldom mutually exclusive. Most physical product deliveries take place alongside one kind of service or another. Similarly, many services are supported by physical goods. Yet, there's a marked difference in the characteristics of the two product types.
In particular, services are by nature intangible and cannot be carried away or stored for future use. As a result, services are produced and consumed simultaneously. Besides, service quality is difficult to standardize because of the heterogeneous nature of service providers, consumers and changing situations. For the enterpreneur engaged in service activities, the main challenge is, therefore, in devising ways of offering quality service with some degree of consistency. Commitment to consumer satisfaction should be the guiding principle at all times.
The capacity to profitabilly make the satisfaction of consumer's needs central to every activity in a business organization is the essence of the marketing concept. This concept is an operational philosophy which clearly recognizes that it is for the purpose of satisfying the consumer that businesses exist, and that the continued existence of any business is, to some extent, a measure of how well that philosophy is practised. The marketing concept is neither a cliche not an appendage to production or sales oriented marketing.
That is, the enterpreneur practicing this concept does not set out with the belief that by producing quality products at affordable prices the consumer would necessarily be satisfied. Determining what would satisfy the consumer requires a purposeful effort that should be the starting point of any productive activity. And because of the perverse nature of the concept and its strategic importance, its adoption in an organization starts from top management, that is, the owner/manager in a sole proprietorship or the chief executive officer (CEO) in the case of a corporation. For marketing concept to yield the expected of a corporation.
For marketing concept to yield the expected results, it must be part of a corporate culture. It has to be seen and received by all the organization as 'the way we do business here'. Several considerations go into an effective product management. For physical goods these includes good packaging, branding and management of the product at different phases of its life cycle.