Feb 172015

Teaching Notes for this Marketing Activity

Preferred format: This teaching activity is designed for small groups of students to discuss the value of the consumer products classification scheme.
Student audience: Could be run with any level of marketing student, perhaps more suitable for students of introductory marketing as well as students of marketing strategy.
Exercise time: The group discussion time should be around 10 minutes, plus any additional time for an overall class discussion.
Activity variations: There is another simple discussion exercise also available on this website for this topic.
Additional resources: A helpful page on the role of the consumer products classification system.

Student Task

In marketing textbooks, when discussing the product mix, the consumer product classification system is usually outlined. This is a very old and established marketing model (since the 1920’s). As you probably know, consumer products are classified into four related sets of products, namely: convenience products, shopping products, specialty products and unsought products.

This model is still in textbooks today as it helps marketers with the design of their marketing mix. This is because the marketer can observe and learn from initiatives outside their direct industry, from products that have similar characteristics and consumer behavior patterns.

In this discussion activity we will look at SHOPPING products only. In the following list there are some examples of shopping products.

  • Computers
  • Entertainment equipment, such as an Xbox or PlayStation
  • Household furniture
  • Clothing
  • Sports equipment
  • Hotels and airlines
  • Joining a gym
  • Car repairs
  • Perfumes and cosmetics
  • Credit cards
  • Regular doctor and dentist

Discussion Questions

  1. What characteristics do the above products share (or in the manner that consumers purchase them) that would result in these products being classified in the same way?
  2. Thinking about marketing mix decisions, what “lessons” or marketing tactics do you think can be borrowed from other product categories (using the above examples).
  3. Do you think that this approach – that is, classifying different product categories into the same category – has any real value to a marketer or is it just a theoretical exercise? Why?

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