What is a Product?

Wikipedia provides a simple definition of a “product“. “A product is a good or a service that can be bought or sold.”

As Product Managers, we should extrapolate on that simple definition to understand where our responsibility for managing the product lies.

A product can be viewed as having 3 components:
– the core product
– the product packaging
– the product support services

The core product consists of the features and functionality that resolve the customer’s need. If we use wireless broadband as an example, the core product includes the device, the coverage, the speed of connectivity, the download capability and the email address. Product Managers have direct responsibility of the core product.

The product packaging are supporting elements that contribute to the customer’s experience of the product. This includes any collateral that help the customer identify his or her need for the product, the process of purchasing the product and using the product for the first time. Many of the reasons that help sway a purchasing decision from one product to another comes from the product packaging. Product Managers whilst not directly responsibility for the product packaging should have an influence over these elements.

The product support services are non core elements of the product that are included after the purchase and initial use of the product. If there is a problem or a question about the product, support services play a fundamental role in the overall customer experience. What happens during the delivery of support services can either increase brand loyalty or send the customer looking for competing products. Despite the importance, Product Managers generally do not have direct control over support services so additional effort may be required to stay in touch with these customer experiences.