Need for product levels in marketing
In order to give benefits to customers, a marketer articulates the product concept. The product concept defines the whole range of benefits a product offers to the customers. The actual product offered is sub-divided into a number of levels relating to customer needs. The marketer should plan his market offer by considering the various product levels. The image below shows the important product levels in marketing.
Important product levels in marketing
(Diagrammatic representation of Various product levels)
The above image shows that an offer can be visualized as an atom with the nucleus (core) surrounded by a series of both tangible and intangible features. Attributes and benefits which cluster around the core product include packaging, advertising, financing, availability, advice, warranty, reliability, etc. The offer of the product is viewed at four important levels namely
- core level
- expected level
- augmented level
- potential level.
1. Core product level:
The core level consists of the basic product. It represents the fundamental benefit for which the customer intend to buy.
Example for Core Product Level:
For example, the customer who buys an air ticket expects the benefit of a hassle-free travel from the Airlines corporation.
Purpose of Core Product:
The core product can also be referenced as generic product. In the context of international marketing, though the physical product remains the same, the core product differs among markets. The variation in the core product is due to the purpose for which the product is used. In developing countries like India, bicycles are still used for transportation. But in several advanced countries they are used in sports and for physical fitness. This necessitates certain modifications of the product design of the physical product.
2. Expected Product level:
The expected product level consists of the common products that not only satisfies the fundamental benefits of customers, but also their other expectations. Customers have a minimum set of expectations about a product or service. The expected product is offered to meet the minimal purchase conditions.
Example for Expected product level:
- A customer while buying an airline ticket expects in addition to a seat on the Aeroplane, a few benefits such as comfortable waiting area, prompt in-flight service, quality food, clean toilets and punctuality of the flight.
- A hotel guest expects cleanliness, efficient room service, telephone service, etc.
Purpose of Expected product level:
To keep the customers contended, a marketer should satisfy the fundamental expectation of them. If this aspect of the product is not properly considered in international markets, it will only result in great dissatisfaction to customers.
3. Augmented product level:
This level consists of those benefits which distinguish the offers offered by company vs competitors. It refers to offerings (product benefit or services in addition to what customers expect).
The marketer differentiates by adding value to his core product in terms of reliability and responsiveness. When the core product is surrounded by some ancillary benefits and extra features, it becomes an augmented product. The international marketer is on the constant lookout for more features and benefits which can be added on to the formal product. When an intense competition prevails in the market, the augmented benefits become expected benefit.
Augmented product is the way in which the marketer fine tunes the marketing mix to differentiate his product to make it stand out from the competition. For example, credit card issued by the bank has additional features of global operation at no extra cost.
4. Potential product level:
Potential level is higher than the augmented product level. This consists of all potential features and benefits that were added.
Purpose of Potential product level:
The potential product is intended to capture new users by redefining its products. It also comes as a pleasant surprise to the existing customers since the product benefits exceed the augmented level. Potential product level builds a strong loyalty of the customers. It even delights the customers.
Example for Potential product level:
For example, Cell phone users are highly satisfied by the offer of increased talk-time at no extra cost. Such unexpected additions add to the loyalty of the customers.