The uniqueness of product in the marketing mix is that all the other elements of the marketing mix, viz., price promotion and place are designed to achieve successful exchange of the product for consumer satisfaction and income. If the product fails to satisfy the consumer, any amount of effort to boost the sales will not long term success. It also turns that, however good a product may be, it may not succeed if the other ingredients of the marketing mix are not appropriate. There is, however, no denying the fact that the success of marketing depends amongst others on the success of the product in satisfying the consumers.
Although the terms product strategy, product planning and product management are often used interchangeably, they are not really one and the same.
Product Strategy involves the managerial decisions about the product mix and the positioning and communication.
Product Planning, used in a broad sense, involves not only the product strategy described above but also the product development measures. Some people confine the use of the term product planning to the different aspects and functions of product development and exclude the product strategy.
Product management refers to the managerial decisions pertaining to product development and the product strategies through the different stages of the product life cycles.
As our discussion of the product is related to international marketing, it would be more appropriate to use the term product decisions which is more comprehensive to involve all the above.
Important product decisions in international marketing management are:
1. Market segment decision
2. Product mix decisions
3. Product specifications
4. Positioning and communication decisions.
Market Segment Decision:
The first product decision to be made is the market segment decision because all other decisions product mix decision, product specifications, and positioning and communications decisions depend upon the target market.
Product Mix Decision:
Product mix decision pertains to the type of products and product variants to be offered to the target market.
This involves specification of the details of each product items in the product mix. This includes factors like styling, shape, size and other attributes and factors like packaging and labeling.
Positioning and Communications Decisions:
Positioning is the image projected for the product. For example, toilet soap may be positioned as baby soap, beauty soap, a deodorant soap, freshness soap or skin care soap. Communication refers to the promotional message designed for the product. Obviously, both positioning and marketing communication are very much interrelated. For the same product, sometimes the positioning and communication strategies differ between markets. For example, Beefeater is a low priced gin in the UK (its home market); but when the company wanted to introduce it in the US it found that there was no room in the minds of the consumers for another low priced gin. So in the US the Beefeater was positioned as a high priced gin became very successful.
A product is defined as anything that can be offered to a market for attention, acquisition, use or consumption that might satisfy a want or need includes physical objects, services, person, places organizations and ideas.
The above definition is very broad indeed. As our major concern is with goods, the following two definitions will be more suitable for our purpose.
In a very narrow sense, a product is a set of tangible physical attributes assembled in an identifiable form. Each product carries a commonly understood descriptive (or generic) name, such as apples, steel, or baseball bats.
A broader interpretation recognizes each brand as a separate product.