This series provides marketing strategies for creating customer satisfaction. Because evaluative schema commonly used by customers differ across product types, previous marketing strategies in this series have presented strategies for utilitarian products and hedonic products. Today, I’ll continue the series by discussing services; unique aspects and marketing strategies to address these unique aspects.
The distinction between products and services is really illusionary and often we simply refer to both products and services as products. in developing strategy. Products and services exist along a continuum of tangibility (physical qualities that give shape and substance to a product); with some products, like toasters, existing more solidly in the tangible end of the continuum and others, such as banking, existing more within the intangible realm. Most products consist of both tangible and intangible elements., which is why marketing them is similar. For instance, the toaster comes with a warrantee, which is a service (intangible) element while the banking service also consists of physical elements such as a passbook, debit card, and withdrawn funds. Some elements of marketing strategy; however, warrant distinguishing products from services. One element deserving its own marketing strategy is that of customer satisfaction, where distinctions between products and services require special attention when developing strategy.
Today, my goal is to illuminate differences between products and services. Tomorrow, I’ll address the strategic implications of these differences. Upcoming posts will break down services into 3 types: 1) professional services, such as those provided by physicians, attorneys, and financial planners; 2) skilled services, such as those provided by hairdressers, plumbers, and other tradespeople; and 3) unskilled services, such as housekeepers, lawn service, dry cleaning, and a host of other services requiring few unique skills. Each type of service has unique elements that must be incorporated into developing effective strategy.
Marketing Strategy – Differences between Products and Services
Intangibility – this is the ephemeral quality of services that means we can’t see them, touch them, smell them, taste them. In other words, our senses can’t detect their existence.
Perishability – services expire at a defined point. For instance, no one is willing to buy a plane ticket for an aircraft that has already left the gate or a hotel room for last night.
Inseparability – services can’t be separated from those providing the service. This means that when customers evaluate a service, they’re also evaluating the person who performed the service.
Inconsistency – unlike products, services are produced “on demand”, thus a company can’t inventory them so they are ready when customers demand them nor can they perform quality control so that only products with “zero defects” are sold to the consumer.