To a layman, a product might just seem as a physical structure that he/she buys but it is not just the physical appearance that is the product. There is more to it. Marketers make use of the concept of product levels to make and market a product.
Before we go deeper into what a core product is, let us understand what the three main levels of a product are.
Core product is not the product in itself. Core product is a concept that describes the utility that a consumer derives by using the product. It is the main need that is satisfied for which the product was made. For example, the core product of a car is the core benefit that it gives, which is the ability to move places at a fast pace. Transportation is the core product in this. Looks, speed, safety etc are other ancillary benefits that come along.
As clear from the name, the actual product is the actual physical product that one can touch, hold and feel. Manufacturing, packaging and presentation all play an important role here. The actual product is how the entire category is considered.
Augmented product is again the non physical part of the product. It is all those value added features or extra benefits and services that you get along with the purchase of the product. Neither is it the physical component of a product (actual product) nor is it the core product (the primary source of utility).
Again, let us take the example of a car. When you purchase a car, the dealer usually gives you a lot of benefits. Some have tie ups with banks that charge a lesser rate of interest, some have cash back offers. They also offer warranties, guarantees and after sales service up to a specified period. All such benefits are categorised under ‘augmented product.’
Examples of Core product
Light bulb is an essential in every home. Bulbs are of various forms and brightness levels. Some are CFL and some are not CFL. Some are to be tightened the screw way and some into a socket. These are all the physical attributes of the bulb.
What is the core product here? It is the brightness generated by the bulb. The light that it generates which helps in visibility of the users is the core product here. Shopkeepers write a date on the bulb when they give it to you. That is to know when the warranty expires. This is the augmented product. A customer will first think of the level of brightness that he/she needs from the bulb. Depending on the requirement, the ‘watt’ capacity of the bulb will be decided and the purchase will be made.
What is the main purpose of a laptop or a PC? For some, it is purely entertainment, for some it’s professional and for some it’s a mix of personal, professional and entertainment use. This digitisation of activities and the derivation of entertainment and pleasure from the usage of the laptop is the core product. It makes life simpler.
It reduces human effort by digitising processes. “Utility” is the core product of laptops. The level of simplification of process is determined by the features it has. These can be hardware and the software. The hardware like RAM & ROM and battery etc, come under the actual product.
Originally, the telephone was only used as a mode of voice communication. Over the years, technology has made so much advancement that a mobile phone can be almost everywhere and for everything! But the core product in a mobile phone is the ease of communication. The utility derived from being able to communicate with speed and efficiency is the core product.
So, as you can see, the core product comprises of the main “utility” it provides to the consumer. It is the main function of the product. Whatever extra features or benefits the product might have, can be classified as actual product or augmented product.