What is a product?

what is a product guys seriously

Let’s start with the basics. A product is a good or a service offered to customers for benefits.

  • A good is a tangible or virtual item that provides certain benefits for a customer.
    A delicious cup of coffee is a product.
  • A service is a single or package of activities performed to fulfill benefits for the customer.
    A professional haircut is a service.
Products are goods and services
Physical goods and intangible services are both products.

Add a little complexity, now. Plenty of goods will come bundled with services as additional benefits, and vice versa. A product is the sum of its features and benefits: the packaging, the support, the logistics, the convenience, the delivery, the speed, the flexibility and any number of perceived benefits. That’s how sellers differentiate their product from the competition’s.

What is a product manager’s role?

 In a sense, every product is simply a means to satisfying a market.

Concerning meeting the needs of customers, a product manager is responsible for finding product-market fit and managing the product’s lifecycle:

  • understanding the needs of the market through research and experiments
  • developing a minimum viable product that meets those needs affordably
  • being flexible and adapting the offering to the changing needs of customers – either through additional features on an existing product or by releasing all-new products

What are benefits?

Benefits are the aspects of a product that satisfy a need. Food satisfies hunger, taxis satisfy our need for transportation, music satisfies our desire for entertainment.

It’s a great idea to promote a product’s benefits to customers because they’re relatable. For example, if I told you that my product has a built-in flux capacitor feature, it wouldn’t have much meaning to you as a customer. If I told you that the product lets you travel back in time  … well now you’re listening. Always consider how a product adds value to the customer through its benefits.

What are features?

Every product has features. Features are the identifiable attributes that offer benefits to a customer.

  • A non-stick coating on a frying pan is a feature on a physical good.
  • Daily room cleaning is a feature of a hotel’s service.
Features convey benefits
The Roadmunk offices could probably use a free room cleaning service…

See how the features of a product offer benefits for the consumer? Ask yourself, would you prefer staying at a hotel that has free room cleaning or staying at one that doesn’t? If you’re like us… you’ll need the room cleaning. That feature adds benefits that help buyers choose one hotel’s product over the competition.

What is a product manager’s role?

Concerning feature development, product managers are responsible for delivering the right features to the right audience:

  • collect feedback from customers and stakeholders, both behavioural and through conversation
  • prioritize new features based on market need and the organization’s ability to deliver
  • help introduce those new features to customers through onboarding, marketing and support
  • aligning the organization’s departments to “go-to-market” using the shared product roadmap

What is value?

Product managers are responsible for delivering the right features to the right audience.

Customers pay for a product (and its benefits) based on value. Every buyer makes up his or her mind a little bit differently, but all customers place a perceived level of worth – called value – on the collection of benefits offered by a product. That’s the imaginary usefulness a customer believes they will receive from the product. Value is perceived differently from person to person because environment, experience and preferences are unique to everyone.

Economists call this “utility”, and try to measure how much satisfaction a customer will receive from a product.

Buyers decisions are based on value
Customers weigh the benefits of a product against the costs.

What is a product manager’s role?

PMs work to prove that their products provide great value by marketing their product properly. Conveying benefits to customers in such a way that the product is perceived as authentic, affordable and satisfying:

  • working with marketing and product marketing teams to create compelling benefits copy
  • asking a reasonable price for the product to balance the benefits in a customer’s buying decision
  • identifying the most attractive benefits through market research

What is a product lifecycle?

Most products won’t last forever. As customers’ needs and expectations change, older products in the market will be perceived as less valuable — to the point where customers aren’t willing to pay the same price they used to. If a company continued making the same obsolete product and charging the same price regardless of the market’s new expectations, eventually customers would refuse to purchase it. The value doesn’t meet the price.

product lifecycle
Even products endure the circle of life.

Products necessarily entire “retirement”, known to product managers as maturity and end-of-life. Sellers have a variety of alternatives to deal with the market and fill the gap made by an obsolete product:

  • Updated versions of an old product will offer more relevant benefits for customers. PM’s call these generations.
    Eg. a newer format music player or the next generation of mobile phone.
  • An all-new product might enter the market and take the old product’s place.
    Eg. digital film, ballpoint pens, combustion engines, personal computers.
  • Some products will simply retire forever because customers don’t have the same needs any longer.
    Eg. disco.

What is a product manager’s role?

Always consider how a product adds value to the customer through its benefits.

It’s the product team’s job to satisfy their customers’ needs. In a sense, every product is simply a means to satisfying a market. If the market shifts, organizations need to adopt a new strategic roadmap to meet those needs:

  • attracting new markets to sell mature products, new selling channels or new delivery formats
  • identifying new benefits within mature products
  • modifying existing products to address new customer needs
  • developing entirely new products to address customer needs

Products deliver benefits to customers

That’s what a product is! Quick review:

  • Products are goods and services
  • They offer benefits to satisfy customer needs
  • Features convey those benefits
  • Customers make a buying decision based on value versus price

Knowing all that, let’s put it into practice. What price do you think the Roadmunk team would be willing to pay to watch their favorite baseball team together, live in Toronto?

Roadmunk @ Blue Jays 2015
Now what if we told you that baseball team had their best season in years?

Some products will never have too high a price. Happy roadmapping, everyone.

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