Classifications of Products – Convenience, Shopping, and Speciality

Understand the different types of consumer products: convenience, shopping, and specialty. This knowledge is essential for developing effective marketing strategies tailored to each type.

The product is at the heart of marketing activities. That makes it crucial to distinguish between the different classifications of products. Only by understanding what we are actually marketing, we can design and realize the right marketing strategy. Let’s learn more about the different classifications of products.

Products can be sorted into several different groups, which we call the classifications of products. In marketing theory, you may sometimes read about four different types of products. Here, we are going to focus on the threefold classification, consisting of convenience products, shopping products, and specialty products.

The idea behind grouping products into different classifications of products is that consumers behave in different ways when purchasing each type of product. A short explanation of each type is provided in the graphic.

Convenience ProductsRelatively inexpensive and frequently purchased
Shopping ProductsDurables, such as mobile phones, bicycles, and furniture
Specialty ProductsGoods which possess unique characteristics on which buyers can spend a considerable amount of effort

The 3 Classifications of Products

Convenience Products

These are relatively inexpensive and frequently purchased goods.

Convenience products correspond with the routine response buying situation: the buyer puts rather little effort into the purchasing situation. Convenience takes precedence over brand loyalty. The marketing implications for convenience products are similar to those for low-involvement products: a low price, widespread distribution, and mass promotion are the winning strategies.

Shopping Products

Shopping products are durables, like for instance mobile phones, bicycles, and furniture.

In contrast to convenience products, shopping products represent a certain risk to the purchaser: the evaluation between good and bad products fulfilling the need of the consumer starts. The consumer is likely to be more active in searching for information and evaluating available alternatives. In this evaluation process, specialist sources and friends are frequently consulted. Certainly, the classifications of products differ across people: One person’s convenience good could be another person’s shopping or specialty good. This is a result of differing individual perceptions of the importance and complexity of the purchase.

In the case of shopping products, marketing strategies need to be carefully chosen. The company should focus on all items of the marketing mix and not just on the product, as is mostly the case for convenience products. The mass distribution strategies of the convenience marketer may no longer be appropriate.

A higher price and selective distribution may be a better strategy. In addition, as brand loyalty is more important, advertising and personal selling instead of mass promotion may become suitable instruments. For instance, in buying a camera, the consumer will likely go to specialist retailers to see what is available. It is very well possible that the person will visit more than one source to have a choice between different offerings.

Therefore, mass promotion is not the appropriate instrument: it is important to promote the camera to specialist magazines, shops, and camera enthusiasts, as customers are likely to consult specialist publications and ask friends who may be camera enthusiasts for their opinions. Also, the camera manufacturer may be well-advised to brief sales staff in retail outlets.

Speciality Products

Specialty products are the most complex type of goods in the classifications of products. Luxury goods, such as watches or designer clothing, represent specialty products.

They possess a single unique characteristic on which buyers are willing to expend a considerable amount of effort to obtain. Specialty products may also be referred to as high-involvement products or complex products. While shopping products can be said to be high in involvement, specialty products mean an even higher involvement: The perceived risk is particularly high and the product is a very infrequent purchase. For the marketing strategy, this means that a more carefully targeted promotion paired with a high price and exclusive distribution may be most appropriate.

Again, the classifications of products are in the hands of the particular consumer. For some consumers, the camera example used above could possibly qualify as a specialty product.

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