Types of Consumer Products: Definitions, Examples & Marketing Considerations

Published by Martha Pierson at February 11, 2022

In marketing, a product is anything that can be bought and sold that meets a want or need of a person, business, or organization. This article focuses on a specific kind of product, called consumer products. We will discuss four types of consumer products and how you can tailor your marketing efforts to successfully promote these items.

What Are Consumer Products?

Consumer putting groceries in hand basket.

Consumer products are tangible objects that can be bought and sold for personal use. For example, iron ore wouldn’t be classified as a consumer product because manufacturers predominantly purchase it. Paper towels, however, are classified as a consumer product because it’s an item commonly purchased for personal use.  Most consumer products are what you see available on store shelves, retail websites, or other direct-to-consumer marketing platforms.

What Are The Types Of Consumer Products?

There are four types of consumer products: convenience products, specialty products, shopping products, and unsought products. Each type of consumer product has its own characteristics depending on the consumer’s buying habits.

Convenience Products

Individual checking out at convenience store counter.

Convenience products are items used daily, including toothpaste, soap, snacks, and most grocery items. These items are often the cheapest, and they require little emotional effort or planning before they’re purchased. As a result, convenience products almost always line the shelves of convenience stores.

A great example of a convenience item is chewing gum. Chewing gum is available at several locations, including grocery and convenience stores. They come in various flavors and colorful packages to encourage shoppers to make an impulse purchase — a classic example of point-of-sale advertising. People know that chewing gum is cheap, so the price is not much of a factor when deciding to buy. In addition, as long as the chewing gum meets their expectation, brand loyalty is something rarely considered.

Shopping Products

Shopping products are items that people buy regularly, but not every day. Unlike convenience products that require little to no decision-making, shopping products often involve comparing price, quality, and style. If deciding upon a convenience product takes seconds or minutes, then deciding upon a shopping product takes hours or even days. Therefore, consumers need ample time to “shop around” for the best prices on moderately expensive products that suit their needs, wants, and tastes.

Mobile phones are a typical example of shopping products. Since phones can be expensive with many features, people can be rather picky when buying one. Moreover, brand loyalty becomes a significant factor when choosing a phone. Just consider Apple products. People are willing to pay more for the brand.

Specialty Products

Specialty products are items that people go to great lengths to purchase, often regardless of the price. Examples of specialty products include luxury items, like high-end cars, designer clothes, exotic perfumes, fine foods, and famous paintings. Some specialty products are custom-made or one-of-a-kind. If people choose convenience products based on accessibility and daily need, then people choose specialty items based on rarity, uniqueness, and exceptionality.

Just consider the process of purchasing a Rolls-Royce, the epitome of luxury cars. People who shell out upwards of half a million dollars are not doing so primarily out of budgetary or practical concerns. Instead, they’re doing so because of the car’s unique style and the social status its brand confers.

Unsought Products

Individuals using tablet at coffee shop

Unsought products are items that people either don’t know about or only consider buying in unexpected circumstances. For instance, most new products or innovations are considered unsought products because people are unaware of them. However, late-night infomercials often feature these goods because it takes more time to educate customers on what they’re selling. Other unsought products include items bought in uncommon or unexpected circumstances. For example, these products may include funeral services, fire extinguishers, and life insurance.

Introduced in 2010, Apple’s iPad is an excellent example of a recent unsought product. Although tablets have been around for decades, it’s Apple who brought them into the mainstream as a new consumer device. “If there’s going to be a third category of device,” said Jobs, “it’s going to have to be better at these kinds of tasks than a laptop or a smartphone; otherwise, it has no reason for being.” Jobs’ brand positioning strategy successfully transformed the iPad from an unsought product to a sought product that makes consumers’ lives easier.

Marketing Considerations For Each Type Of Consumer Products

Understanding the differences among the four types of consumer products is necessary for developing a robust and effective marketing strategy. Each type of consumer product has its own unique marketing strategies that focus on price, distribution, and consumer buying behavior.

Price

Depending on the type of consumer product, the shopper will either consider the price heavily or not at all. For instance, convenience products are low-cost items, causing consumers to think very little about the price before purchasing. Similarly, specialty items are not considered for their price but rather for quality and status. Therefore, consumers may not focus as much on the price before buying the item.

However, as a specialty product retailer, consider implementing a point-of-sale financing software that offers buy now pay later options. These programs are a form of short-term financing that allows consumers to purchase a product and pay later. The flexible repayment options can incentivize more consumers to consider purchasing specialty items they otherwise could not afford.

Conversely, customers may consider the price of shopping and unsought products. Therefore, companies offering these goods need to consider the price when advertising. Shopping products should have competitive prices as these goods are likely judged heavily by the consumer. Before purchasing a shopping product, the customer is likely to consider the cost of the item according to the quality and how well it serves their needs. Therefore, market research should be conducted to price shopping goods at competitive prices.

Unsought products are new to the market, and consumers will likely not know about them. If unsought goods are priced too high, it can deter shoppers from ever trying them out. As a result, companies need to consider the manufacturing costs and the price of advertising when pricing these items. 

Distribution

Back view of individual walking through department store.

The accessibility of a consumer product must align with the type of consumer you are targeting. For instance, convenience products have widespread distribution because they typically appeal to a wide audience. Additionally, they are available at convenient locations. As a result, convenience products should be targeted towards larger chain locations, as well as smaller mom-and-pop shops.

Shopping products are more selectively distributed to fewer stores. Before deciding which stores to sell your products to, it is best to research the demographics that purchase the product most. Factors that would influence your distribution include geography, age, online sales, and in-store sales. Based on this information, you may choose to offer the products in larger department stores or online vendors.

Specialty products are exclusively distributed. As a result, brick and mortar locations need to consider whether there is large demand in the geographic area to justify selling specialty products. Typically, billboards advertising specialty products are situated in luxury, urban areas to drive consumers to local stores.

Unsought items have varying distribution methods. Like shopping products, companies selling unsought products need to consider their target demographics when choosing how to distribute. For example, if the product has everyday applications, it can be distributed to large chain retailers or convenience stores.

Buying Behavior

Much of your marketing will center on your target consumer and how they purchase goods. As the name suggests, convenience products are convenient and low-cost. Therefore, they are readily available in most places. As a result, national commercials and magazines can be the best way to market these products as they have mass appeal and application.

Shopping products require more thought behind their advertising as they are likely targeted towards a specific urban area or a particular age group. Typically, ads for shopping products will appear in local commercials, radio, and print.

Specialty products are targeted towards a niche clientele. Therefore, these products will likely be marketed in high-end fashion magazines. These ads will also require personalization to appeal to an elite class of shoppers.

As mentioned previously, unsought products are targeted towards a few shoppers who have very specific needs. Therefore, marketing these products requires educating shoppers about their uses and creating demand.

Summary

Marketing a successful consumer product is more than offering a useful or high-quality item. Instead, it is understanding your target audience’s needs, wants, and buying behaviors. Additionally, consumers may consider price, quality, and availability before purchasing a product. Therefore, understanding your consumers and products can go a long way in helping you create successful marketing campaigns.


Martha Pierson

Editor-in-ChiefMartha is Editor-in-Chief at Finturf.com. Her career began in 2003 when she started as an investment banking analyst. Martha continued her career path as a financial advisor for investments. She has a passion for writing and is mainly focused on covering financial and business management topics.

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