V Figu re 8.2 shows the important decisions in the development and marketing of individual products and services. We will focus on decisions about product attributes, branding, packaging, labeling, and product support services.
Developing a product or service involves defining the benefits that it will offer. These benefits are communicated and delivered by product attributes such as quality, features, and style and design.
Product Quality. Product quality is one of the marketer's major positioning tools. Quality has a direct impact on product or service performance; thus, it is closely linked to customer value and satisfaction. In the narrowest sense, quality can be defined as "freedom from defects." But most customer-centered companies go beyond this narrow definition. Instead, they define quality in terms of creating customer value and satisfaction. The American Society for Quality defines quality as the characteristics of a product or service that bear on its ability to satisfy stated or implied customer needs. Similarly, Siemens defines quality this way: "Quality is when our customers come back and our products don't."9
Product support services
Product support services
Total quality management (TQM) is an approach in which all the company's people are involved in constantly improving the quality of products, services, and business processes. For most top companies, customer-driven quality has become a way of doing business. Today, companies are taking a "return on quality" approach, viewing quality as an investment and holding quality efforts accountable for bottom-line results.
Product quality has two dimensions—level and consistency. In developing a product, the marketer must first choose a quality level that will support the product's positioning. Here, product quality means performance quality—the ability of a product to perform its functions. For example, a Rolls-Royce provides higher performance quality than a Chevrolet automobile: It has a smoother ride, provides more "creature comforts," and lasts longer. Companies rarely try to offer the highest possible performance quality level—few customers want or can afford the high levels of quality offered in products such as a RollsRoyce automobile, a Viking range, or a Rolex watch. Instead, companies choose a quality level that matches target market needs and the quality levels of competing products.
Beyond quality level, high quality also can mean high levels of quality consistency. Here, product quality means conformance quality—freedom from defects and consistency in delivering a targeted level of performance. All companies should strive for high levels of conformance quality. In this sense, a Chevrolet can have just as much quality as a Rolls-Royce. Although a Chevy doesn't perform at the same level as a Rolls-Royce, it can deliver as consistently the quality that customers pay for and expect.
Product Features. A product can be offered with varying features. A stripped-down model, one without any extras, is the starting point. The company can create higher-level models by adding more features. Features are a competitive tool for differentiating the company's product from competitors' products. Being the first producer to introduce a valued new feature is one of the most effective ways to compete.
How can a company identify new features and decide which ones to add to its product? The company should periodically survey buyers who have used the product and ask these questions: How do you like the product? Which specific features of the product do you like most? Which features could we add to improve the product? The answers provide the company with a rich list of feature ideas. The company can then assess each feature's value to customers versus its cost to the company. Features that customers value highly in relation to costs should be added.
Product Style and Design. Another way to add customer value is through distinctive product style and design. Design is a larger concept than style. Style simply describes the appearance of a product. Styles can be eye-catching or yawn producing. A sensational style may grab attention and produce pleasing aesthetics, but it does not necessarily make the product perform better. Unlike style, design is more than skin deep—it goes to the very heart of a product. Good design contributes to a product's usefulness as well as to its looks.
Design begins with a deep understanding of customer needs. More than simply creating product or service attributes, it involves shaping the customer's product-use experience. AConsider OXO's outstanding design philosophy and process:10
OXO's uniquely designed kitchen and gardening gadgets look pretty cool. But to OXO, good design means a lot more than good looks. It means that OXO tools work— really work—for anyone and everyone. For OXO, design means a salad spinner that can be used with one hand; tools with pressure-absorbing, nonslip handles that make them more efficient; or a watering can with a spout that rotates back toward the body, allowing for easier filling and storing. Ever since it came out with its supereffective Good Grips vegetable peeler in 1990, OXO has been known for its clever designs that make everyday living easier.
Much of OXO's design inspiration comes directly from users. "We ... do a lot of talking to consumers and chefs ... we do a lot of surveys, we talk to people we know ... all over the country," says an OXO executive. OXO use-tests its product ideas exhaustively—in the OXO kitchen, in employees' homes, at a cooking school, or by just corralling casual
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