The same goes for products and services: it is easy to identify a soap as a product and a haircut as a service. But what about the restaurants? They sell food, which is a product, but essentially they are a service. How to identify the difference?
Understand this, and be clear about what our company sells, It is important to know what are the key aspects that we must take into account in our marketing strategies.
5 key differences between products and services
1. Tangible vs. Intangible
This is the main difference. A product is something that you can perceive with your senses: you see it, touch it, smell it and, in some cases, even hear or taste it. On the other hand, a service you cannot perceive. Or can you perceive the service of a hairdresser?
At this point, perhaps you would say to me: “I can perceive my haircut”, then I would reply: “Yes, but you can only perceive it after you have ‘consumed’ it”. The difference between the tangible and the intangible comes at the time of sale, not purchase, which makes services more difficult to sell.
This is why services must use tangible elements to convey sensations and ideas before the purchase and make the customer imagine what it will be like to consume that service. Continuing with the case of the hairdresser, these could be photographs of other clients showing off their cuts or even short videos showing the processes. Even the atmosphere of the room and the presentation of the staff give an idea of the quality of the service.
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2. Engagement vs. Acquisition
As we saw in the previous aspect, services only become tangible until they are consumed. In other words, the services do not start if there is no client.
This difference is what makes a restaurant a service and not a product. And it is that the ingredients, the chefs and the tables are there whether you are there or not, but only at the moment you ask for what you are going to eat, that dish materializes. Whereas, a packet of chips in a vending machine will be there whether you buy it or not.
This means that A key aspect of most services is that they are custom made. Of course there is a menu in the restaurant, but that dish they are going to make is just for you. The same applies if you have a suit made, if you go shopping at the supermarket, or if you visit the doctor.
In this sense, products can learn something from services, and involve customization to a greater or lesser degree. It can be something as simple as the ability to choose from various types of packaging, colors or shipping methods.
3. Homogeneity vs. Heterogeneity
Products tend to be mass produced, while services are provided individually. Therefore, products are easier to standardize and evaluate before sale, while in the case of services, circumstances, people and other factors can affect the final product.
For this reason, it is important for services to standardize their processes as much as possible and have a “plan B” in case any irregularity arises. It sounds complicated, but to give you an example, it’s the same as Domino’s Pizza with its promise to deliver the pizza for free if it takes more than 30 minutes to arrive (which rarely happens).
On the other hand, if there is any fault with a product, there is always the possibility of returning it. For this reason, in addition to carrying out an exhaustive quality control, product companies must take care of post-sale, which includes the processes of return, guarantee, support, etc.
4. Storable Vs. Perishable
Products can always be stored, inventoried and preserved for a time, while in the case of services this is not the case. If you stop selling a hotel room for one day, that’s one sale you can never get back.
In this aspect, it is important to take into account, both for product and service companies, to calculate how sales behave over time and to have plans to solve the seasons of less activity.
5. Need vs. Trust
In essence, products are good as long as they satisfy the need for which they were created. If an anti-dandruff shampoo gets rid of dandruff, then it’s good. If a computer works properly, it is a good computer. If a car gets you where you need to go and has no glitches, then it’s a good car.
In the case of services, this perception of quality is based more on relationships of trust. Whether you hire a computer security consulting service for your company or ask for an Uber to take you home, it is essential that you feel trust, both in the person(s) who provide you the service, and in the processes they carry out. Much of customer satisfaction depends on that trust.
This does not mean that trust relationships are not important in product marketing. In fact, believing this and putting all the responsibility on the product is a big mistake. Product companies should take great care to monitor the service around their products, as this is also a critical part of the shopping experience.
Although it is true that both products and services have different marketing needs, as you can see, This does not mean that there are not things that they cannot learn from each other. So I invite you to analyze very well what you sell and what marketing actions you can implement to enrich the shopping experience of your customers.