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What Is a Core Product?

By Peter Hann
Updated May 16, 2024
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A core product is not the actual product but can be defined as the benefit of the product that makes it useful to the purchaser. This benefit might be an intangible idea or concept connected with convenience, status or the ability to achieve a certain task quickly. This benefit gives the product value and meets the needs of the intended customer. The core product should be distinguished from the actual product and from the augmented product, which includes added value such as after-sales service and warranty.

Taking as an example a camera, the core product would be the ability to take a high quality picture conveniently, quickly and in a variety of circumstances. This solves the main problem for the buyer. The actual product bought by the customer also includes attributes such as brand, style and color. The augmented product would include customer service and warranty in addition to the other features.

The development of the core product is linked to the core competencies of the company and the skills of its staff. Specialized teams within the company might concentrate on developing the core competencies. These competencies solve the main problem and are the source of benefit for the consumer. They might be utilized to make a number of actual products that differ in their other attributes. These end products contain the core product and present it in different ways, but they all solve a similar problem for the consumer.

A company must maintain its core competencies and consider the main benefits for customers when developing its product offering. End products might be developed on the basis of the core competencies, and the features of the actual products, such as style, shape or color, might be changed according to taste and fashion. When a company varies its product offering, it should be careful not to drift away from the core product and the benefits offered to customers. Product diversification must be carefully planned with the core benefits to customers kept in mind to avoid diluting the product offering.

The concept of the core product is important in the marketing of the goods made by a company. The benefit received by the customer must be emphasized in any marketing campaign that is aimed at selling the flagship products. The core benefit to the customer, such as convenience, cost-effectiveness or the ability to get a job done quickly and efficiently, must be featured prominently in any advertising for the actual product. The company must convince the customer that its products can provide a better solution to his or her problem than goods made by the company's competitors.

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Discussion Comments
By bythewell — On Nov 24, 2013

I always thought the core product was the product that everything else revolved around, although I guess it makes sense as an attribute as well.

It makes me think of companies that sell printers and basically make their money by selling the cheapest printer in the world, but then charging an arm and a leg on ink. I guess their core product would be a cheap printing machine, but their money is really made from the cartridges that go with it.

By Mor — On Nov 23, 2013

@umbra21 - The core product doesn't just impact on marketing though. I read an article the other day about how one particular franchise had revolutionized the fast food industry with the way they set up their kitchens so that they were basically little factories where the workers could churn through the food as fast as possible. They shaved something like 5 seconds off the average order, which doesn't sound like much but it definitely adds up, particularly when you have a busy day and it amounts to a big difference along national lines.

If taste were the core product, they probably would have spent all that research money on making the product taste as good as possible (although I'm sure they've done that to some extent as well) but instead they spent a lot of time and energy on making sure that they are the fastest place in town.

By umbra21 — On Nov 22, 2013

I guess the marketing depends on how well the core product is known in the area and what other companies are competing with them. I mean, I don't think that fast food places often advertise these days that the real advantage of their product is convenience. More often their advertising focuses on taste, because that is the real difference between them and their competitors (in theory).

They are all pretty convenient. It's taste that makes the difference and that is how they try to distinguish themselves.

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