Summary The main purpose of this paper is to evaluate critically and explain total product concept as one of the marketing concepts and marketing as a whole. It states how an understanding of products concerning customer wants and needs can improve and make marketing easy as well as being able to conquer competitors. This concept has four levels: core, expected, augmented and potential product level which helps to make the products different for the purpose of efficient marketing and also for competition purpose. Total Buyer Concept Introduction All profit or non-profit making organizations need the process of marketing for the purpose of selling its products and services. Marketing is a management process through which products and services are introduced to the market, and the customers are made aware of the services and products of the purpose of selling. This management process involves coordination of elements which are commonly referred to as 4 Ps of marketing. These include product, price, place and promotion. The product is identified and developed, an appropriate price is set, distribution channels are selected for the product to reach the customers place and finally the organization develops and implements a promotional strategy (Bhattacharjee, 2006). Marketing is all about thinking about business in terms of customer needs and customer satisfaction. Marketing views business as a process which consists of integrated efforts which work together towards discovering, creating, arousing and satisfying customer wants and needs. Marketing process does not necessarily mean getting a customer to pay for a service or a product but to develop a demand for that particular service or product and fulfill customer needs (Bhattacharjee, 2006). The marketing department of firms set out objectives that need to be met for the purpose of attaining the overall goals of the organization.Â These objectives include the creation of demand for their products and services, customer satisfaction, increasing the market share of the firm, generating profits and finally creating a public image and goodwill. The marketing aim is to maximize the profits of the organization by making sure that the products and services are well known to the target market. Marketing has several concepts and which vary from each other from the function that they deal with. The needs and wants in the market lead to the development of these concepts. One of these concepts is total product concept. This concept explains how good quality, performance and innovative measures of a product attract customer towards wanting to buy it. The concept of total product believes in customer decisions, and it states that the loyalty of customer to a product is determined by being given more options of the products as well as how many more benefits they are going to get from that particular product or service (Zikmund, 1995). Discussion The total product concept involves how salespeople and companies analyze their product, markets it and sells it more effectively.Â Products, for the purpose of differentiation, have features which provide value for clients, customers, society and partners. The total product concept is used by buyers or customers to evaluate a product among different brands and come up with the distinguishing features and benefits which allow them to choose the product that satisfies their expectations and provides them with the value for the money paid (Zikmund, 1995). Organizations use this marketing concept to help them differentiate their services or products from those of the competitors thus creating a unique and stable position in the market. The marketers and the organization as a whole must ensure that the product features to satisfy the wants and needs of potential customers. The ability of a company to satisfy the wants and needs of customers makes the product to be of value to them. It is the duty of the marketers to have a comprehensive understanding of the product to make the product of more value than that of the competitors (Rugimbana & Nwankwo, 2003). The total product concept views and describes a product in four levels. Namely, core product expected product, augmented product and potential product. These four levels give a better understanding of the perception of product value. It is very important for marketers to know that the main purpose of a customer to choose a product is not to just purchase the product but they buy a solution to a problem they are having (Rugimbana & Nwankwo, 2003). This concept of total product views a product as a totality of value and the benefits it gives to the buyers. Products are manufactured and circulated to the market by selling for the purpose of solving the problems of the customers as well as satisfying the unsatisfied wants or needs. The core product This level of total product concept is made up of the fundamental benefits that act as an answer to the customers or buyers problem of unsatisfied want or need. The organization needs to identify the customer problem; know what is appropriate in solving that problem and the benefits the customers want from the product. When the marketers understand the customer needs and want they will come up with the right product and thus giving them the assured that the customers will buy from them and not from the competitors. For example, the core benefit of a mobile phone is reliability and accessible communications, and another example is the core benefit when an overweight man decides to buy a bicycle is not transportation but is the hope for better conditioning and health. The core benefit of any product remains the same regardless of the changes made to the product.Â The core product is always so individualized and sometimes vague, this gives the marketer a full-time job to accurately identify the core product for the target market (Boone & Kurtz, 1998). The target market includes the customers which the firms has identified a need and wanted from, and it is capable and willing to satisfy the identified wants and needs. It is the customers whom the firm aims its product at. A firm cannot start producing a product without a research which will help them identify the market gap, come up with ideas on how to fill the gap and finally design a product with the specific qualities and standards. Without a target, it will be very difficult to market the product since the firm will not know which customers are interested in their product (Boone & Kurtz, 1998). The expected product The expected product level is essentially the foundation of the product category. This level gives a description of the attributes or features of a product that deliver the benefit that builds the core product. These attributes fulfill the basic expectations of customers towards the product. At expected product level the marketers differentiate their products from that of the competitors by using characteristics such as packaging, quality standards, and branding (Dransfield & Needham, 2005). Product quality appears different to each buyer. Every customer has different definitions about how he or she wants a product to be.Â This poses a challenge to businesses as they have to set their quality level which covers and satisfies the expectations and needs of their target customers. The quality of product involves tangible features, for example, appearance, performance, strength and intangible features like exclusivity and reputation (Dransfield & Needham, 2005). Product branding, a brand is an essential tool used by organizations to differentiate its product from the ones of its competitors. Nowadays the value of the brand is phenomenal. Branding has the power of instant sales; to the market, they convey a message of quality, reliability and confidence. Branding of a product has to work across all the organizations promotion and trading platforms including telephone, television, retail shops, and the internet. Internet branding may be done through the firmâ€™s website which should be easy in the eye and make the most of the brand loyalty build through other promotion platforms (Sullivan & Adcock, 2002). The augmented product Augmented product level is also known as value-added level. At this level of augmented product, the benefits delivered by the product are not necessarily required by the customer as part of the basic satisfaction of their needs and wants. This total product concept level gives the marketers a chance to differentiate the product from that of the competitors significantly. Often, the augmented product attributes create the main differentiation and give the customer the reason to choose a particular brand. With time, the augmented product features can become widely incorporated into a product that they end up becoming a part of expected product level (Sullivan & Adcock, 2002).Â For an instance, one of the augmented product features of a mobile phone is access to music downloads which has eventually become a part of every phone worldwide. The product can be augmented by image, credit, assistance, installation, service, delivery and guarantees. For example, a specialized store which sells high-end luxury products will attract customers who want to augment their status through buying of these luxury products. These products will have to be displayed to show their tangible benefits like their features and quality. This store will also have to have bathrooms, ample parking, elevators, helpful staff and changing rooms as part of the augmented benefits. The potential product Potential product level comprises of all possible features that can become a part of augmented and expected product. This is inclusive of prototyped or planned and developed features as well as yet to be conceived features. For example, SMS in mobile phones in early days was a developing idea which eventually became an augmented product feature, and now it lies in the expected product level (Lewison, 1996). The marketers have been attracted to it leading to more innovative ways and feature in products due to the ability of potential product level to create new ways of differentiation. Potential product features increase the product value for customers and it is very important for organizations which want to last and remain profitable while satisfying customer needs and wants over a long time (Pride & Ferrell, 2010). Businesses focus on the distinctiveness of augmented product for the purpose of competition. Competition between businesses is not necessarily determined by the companyâ€™s product but by the extra benefits the company adds to the product in terms of advertising and packaging that can be of value to the buyers. Mostly, for production companies, it is very important to deliver their products in a specific trend that is from core product up to augmented and also to have the ability and potential to grow. Value is added to the customers at each level of total product concept (Ruskin-Brown, 2006). Customers primarily look for products or services which are worth the price set for the product and more so the products which will satisfy their needs and wants. Conclusion All organizations and business especially the marketing department should understand this marketing concept. Total product concept gives a step by step strategy of how the features of products can help attract more customers, develop customer loyalty and also differentiate the product from those of the competitors. The different levels of total product concept offer a basis for establishing a way of eliminating competitors. Coming up with a product which will attract customer loyalty and satisfy customer needs is a major responsibility of marketers. Every decision made about the product or service should be carefully considered since it will affect the business success in the long run. The attractiveness of the product draws the customers to it, features of the product enable it to be different for the purpose of competition, and the business reputation is strengthened by good product branding ad quality. A good strategy and planning by an organization can lead to a good decision about which product to bring to the market to satisfy both the firm and the customers. References Bhattacharjee, C. (2006). Services Marketing: Concepts, planning, and implementation. New Delhi: Excel Books. Boone, L. E., & Kurtz, D. L. (1998). Contemporary marketing wired. Orlando, Fla: The Dryden Press. 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