Goods-Service Continuum

In general, organizational products are a composition of goods and services. According to the goods-services continuum in the figure given below, some products may have either tangible (e.g., salt) or intangible (e.g., teaching) characteristics. However, some products provide both goods and services at the same time, like traveling via airplane.

Goods-Service Continuum

The position of the product on the continuum enables the marketer to spot potential opportunities. At the tangible (pure goods) end of the continuum, only those goods are positioned, which are not related to services. At the intangible (pure services) end of the continuum, only those services are positioned, which have no association with physical products.

The middle portion of both the ends consists of the products that have combined characteristics of both goods and services, e.g., goods like air-conditioners also require services like installation and delivery, besides being a product.

All the three positions involved in the goods-services continuum are described below:

1) Standalone Service Products: These are the services that the consumer buys because they offer some expertise. Here the expertise is referred to as the standalone service (like psychoanalysis) offered by such services. Such people-based services are on the intangible end of the service continuum. The need for such services is increasing day by day as people have lesser time to perform their daily tasks.

There is also the emergence of self-improvement services like spoken language classes or personality grooming classes. In large cities, even services like professional dog walkers are becoming very popular. Individuals also engage someone to help them with their legal matters, tax filings, and even repair their car, electronic gadgets, etc.

The manufacturing firms (which earlier were engaged in offering products with only supplementary services) are now developing and redesigning their core potential to offer standalone services. As per their expertise, they are offering new standalone services to the public.

For example, IBM was initially known as a manufacturer of computer and hardware equipment. Now they have four business verticals viz. strategic outsourcing, business consulting, integrated technology services, and maintenance as standalone services.

2) Service Products Bundled with Tangible Products: In this category, both goods and services combine to form a complete product. For example, restaurants and hotels are placed in the middle of the continuum, as they use goods (e.g., expensive crockery) and services (e.g., skilled manpower). Other facility-driven services such as museums, multiplexes, zoos, amusement parks, etc., involve the following three factors:

  1. Operational Factors: Effective utilization of different technologies should be practiced so that customers feel delighted while using services. A proper set of instructions and indications must be provided to guide customers about using the service. This may help the company to reduce their waiting time.
  2. Locational Factors: These services are commonly purchased services, e.g., ATM or dry clean services. Here, location plays a vital role as these services are provided at particular locations.
  3. Environmental Factors: These are storefront services where customers visit the place for services. Therefore, the environment of that specific place should be attractive enough to appeal to customers.
    For example, banks must provide an elegant and sophisticated appearance, advanced technology, quick services, etc., to their customers.

3) Goods Dominated Products: These products are tangible in nature and complemented with supporting services. For example, one month warranty or toll-free services are mainly offered by the company to increase the value of the product.

The strategy of associating supportive services with the main product is called ‘embodying.’ The term embodying is used by the IT industry, where companies use this strategy to enter into an international market that is flooded with low-cost products with inappropriate user-guidance.

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