Product Functionality versus Product Design

It is the desire of every marketer to see to it that the products one is dealing in or marketing are able to move as fast as possible; as this is the only way through which the marketer can make a quick profit (Kotler 2009). That aside, the need to have customers satisfied through creation of market segments for a better understanding of the unique needs of the customer and provision of better quality products through product differentiation is an urgent one. However, it has been difficult to tell what really matters in marketing a product – its use or function, or the way in which the product is designed. This paper sets out to answer this question, arguing that product design is the most critical factor.
            The role of marketing is usually to ensure that the customer gets to buy a certain product. Given that there is a lot of competition in the market brought about by the increased liberalization of markets, it is upon the marketer to come with unique ways to make the product move (Baker 2003). This is where creativity comes in. Unless the marketer can be creative enough and so make one’s products as unique as possible, then these products might just pass for any other (Kotler 2009). As the Five Forces model of Porter would have it, there is always the tendency for markets that have a large number of players to have close substitutes even if there are no real identical ones. In the light of this matter, therefore, it is critical that product design is given the priority it deserves. It is only through designing the product in a way that is like no other that customers will find it appealing. While it is true that certain buyers are mainly concerned about the functionality of the product, the situation changes when there are so many close substitutes or exactly identical products (Baker 2003). In this instance, therefore, even such customers will need to choose from the many available. The design is what will attract them to one product as opposed to another.
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Another issue is that customers, being human beings, have a tendency to be attracted to what is ideal – the most beautiful, colorful, pleasing, and many such attributes (Kotler 2009). They effect of first impressions always works in customers and ought to be what the marketer targets. It is better to have the customer attracted to a product from the onset and have one talking over other matters latter than focus on functionality and yet get no-one interested. Finally, product design is in itself a way of guaranteeing customers of good quality (Kotler 2009). This is because once a customer is attracted to a product, one will then be informed in detail of the effectiveness of that product as far as functionality is concerned. This gives the customer confidence to take the product and so come back in the future. It a matter of putting first things fast – getting the customer’s attention is paramount (Baker 2003).
Marketing is what determines whether a product will get sold or not. As such, it is more important for the product to be in a state which allows customers to respond to it faster. In a competitive, free market economy as is the case in many parts of the world, it is how well a product is designed and not really what it does that matters. After all, competitive markets are so full of identical products or their close substitutes. Therefore, product design is of far greater importance than product functionality.
 Word count: 598
Baker, MJ 2003. The marketing book. Butterworth-Heinemann
Kotler, P 2009. Principles of Marketing. Pearson

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