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What Are Hard Goods?

Malcolm Tatum
By
Updated: May 16, 2024

Also known as durable goods, hard goods are any type of tangible products that are intended to remain functional for an extended period of time. This is different from soft goods, which are products that are designed to fulfill consumer demand for a limited period of time. In general, a product must provide in excess of three years of usage in order to be considered a hard good.

There are many examples of hard goods that are found around the home. In fact, the materials used to construct the dwelling are classified as hard or durable goods. Bricks used for the exterior are designed to remain functional for decades, with only minimum wear and tear. In like manner, goods such as doors, window sashes, and other components of the home construction are also intended for long-term use that sets them outside the scope of soft goods.

Within the home, household appliances are examples of hard goods. Refrigerators, stoves, freezers, and most microwave ovens are all designed to last in excess of three years. Elsewhere in the home, electronic equipment such as desk and laptop computers, televisions sets, and stereo systems are also intended to remain fully functional for many years, assuming they are maintained properly.

In a work environment, these goods may refer to equipment used to manufacture various types of products, as well as items used to manage clerical and administrative functions relevant to the business operation. Carding and spinning equipment are examples of hard goods used in a textile plant, while copy machines, computer terminals, and office furniture are hard goods that are necessary to the efficient function of departments that are not directly engaged in the production of the company’s product line.

The key to determining whether a certain group or class of consumed goods can be considered hard or soft depends on how long the products are anticipated to provide useful and efficient use to the consumer. Household appliances that are not likely to last a minimum of three years are not considered hard goods, while items such as cars, trucks, furniture, and similar items are all expected to remain functional far beyond the three year mark. While some people tend to think of hard goods as being non-food items that are more expensive than other products, price does not actually have anything to do with determining whether a product is a hard or soft good.

SmartCapitalMind is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including SmartCapitalMind, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By Oceana — On Jun 25, 2011

@jonpurdin - I would think that tougher clothing like boots and jackets would be classified as hard goods. Usually, items like these are meant to last for several years, and that justifies their price being steeper than that of more delicate clothing.

By shell4life — On Jun 22, 2011

We have a list at the office where I work of every material thing in the building. The list is divided into two categories, 'soft goods' and 'hard goods.' I never knew what those meant until now.

A couple of the items listed under hard goods included the water fountain and the printers. Those definitely should last longer than three years!

Pens and paper clips fell into the soft goods category. This categorization never made sense until now.

By jonpurdin — On Jun 22, 2011

I have read this definition in other places, but I do think that it is a bit confusing, maybe even simplistic.

Personally, I would consider all clothing to be soft goods, but I have some clothing, especially boots, belts, and jackets, that have lasted over 3 years. Does that mean they are hard goods?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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