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.