Different Types of Consumer Products – Categories of Product

by Max
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Different types of consumer products – Categories of product

What are the different types of consumer products, and how can the categories of product be distinguished? In another article, we have described already that there are 4 types of consumer products. However, there is another way of categorizing the different types of consumer products. The categories of product can be established on basis of two criteria:

  1. How frequently and where are they purchased?
  2. At what moment or type of event are they purchased?

Different Types of Consumer Products by Frequency and Place of Purchase

First of all, let us investigate the different types of consumer products on basis of the frequency and place of purchase.

Convenience Products

Among the different types of consumer products, the convenience product is bought most frequently. A convenience product is a consumer product or service that customers normally buy on a frequent basis, immediately and without great comparison or buying effort. It appeals to a very large market segment.

Examples include articles such as most household items (food, cleaning products, personal care products etc.). Because of the high purchase volume, pricing per item tends to be relatively low and consumers often see little value in shopping around since additional effort does not lead to great savings.

From a marketing point of view, the low price of convenience products means that profit per unit sold is very low. Thus, in order to make high profits the products must be sold in large volumes. Consequently, these products are distributed in mass through as many retail outlets as possible.

Shopping Products

A different type of consumer product are shopping products. These are products consumers purchase and consume on a less frequent schedule compared to convenience products. As they are normally more expensive than convenience products, a more careful comparison takes place and consumers are willing to spend more time locating them. Thus, shopping products are a consumer product that the consumer usually compares on attributes such as quality, price and style in the process of selecting and purchasing.

Examples include many clothing products, personal services, electronic products, and household furnishings. Since consumers purchase these products less frequently and are willing to shop to locate them, the target market is much smaller than that of convenience goods. Consequently, selective distribution is an often chosen distribution strategy. However, deeper sales support is offered in order to help consumers in their comparison effort.

Specialty Products

The most rarely purchased products among the different types of consumer products are speciality products. These are products that are more expensive relative to convenience and shopping products. Therefore, consumers are much more selective.

Speciality products are consumer products and services with unique characteristics or brand identification for which a significant group of consumers is willing to make a special purchase effort.

Examples include high-end luxury automobiles, expensive champagne, and celebrity hair care experts. The target markets are generally very small and outlets selling the products are very limited to the point of being exclusive.

In fact, in many cases consumers know in advance which product they prefer and will not shop to compare products. But they may invest more effort into reaching the product. For instance, let’s look at a very special car: In order to buy one, a certain group of buyers would make a special effort, for instance by travelling great distances to reach the best dealership. The effort must not be understood in terms of comparison and evaluation, as consumers usually know what speciality product they want. The actual effort invested is, for example, the time needed to reach dealers that carry the wanted products.

  Types of Consumer Products
Marketing consideration Convenience Shopping Speciality
Customer buying behaviour Frequent purchase, little effort (planning, comparison), low customer involvement Less frequent purchase, much effort (planning and comparison of brands on price, quality, style etc.) Strong brand preference and loyalty, special purchase effort, little comparison of brands, low price sensitivity
Price Low price Higher price High price
Distribution Widespread distribution, convenient locations Selective distribution, fewer outlets Exclusive distribution in only one or a few outlets
Promotion Mass promotion Advertising and personal selling More carefully targeted promotion
Examples Toothpaste, magazines, laundry detergent Television, furniture, clothing Luxury goods (e.g. Rolex watch), designer clothing

Different Types of Consumer Products by Moment of Purchase

In addition to the classification of the different types of consumer products by the frequency and place of purchase, consumer products can be classified in an additional way. The moment of purchase identifies in what situation you might buy a product.

Emergency Products

Emergency products are products a customer seeks due to sudden events. Consequently, pre-purchase planning is not considered. Often the decision is one of convenience: whatever works to fix the problem. Also, personal fulfilment can play a role (e.g. perceived to improve the purchaser’s image).

Unsought Products

Unsought products are those consumer products that a consumer either does not know about or knows about but does not consider buying under normal conditions. Thus, these types of consumer products consumers do not think about in ‘normal life’, at least not until they need them. Most innovations are unsought until consumers become aware of them. Other examples of these types of consumer products are life insurances and funeral services. As a consequence of their nature, unsought products require much more advertising, selling and marketing efforts than other types of consumer products.

Another way of looking at unsought products is that their purchase is unplanned by the consumer but occurs as a result of marketer’s actions. Such purchase decisions are made when the customer is exposed to promotional activity, such as a salesperson’s persuasion or purchase incentives like special discounts. These promotional activities often lead consumers to spontaneous purchase decisions: Impulse Purchasing.

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