5 Key Differences Between Products and Services

Products vs. Services - Complete Controller

When owning and operating a business, you offer either a product or service and, in some cases, both. When you are developing your business, you must understand the fundamental differences between a product or a service and what your business will offer. Here are five key differences between products and services.

Tangible Vs. Intangible

This is the main difference. You can perceive a product with your senses: you see it, you touch it, you smell it, and, in some cases, you even hear it, or you taste it. But, on the other hand, a service you cannot perceive. Or maybe you can perceive the service of a hairdressing salon? Check out America's Best Bookkeepers

At this point, maybe you would say to me: “I can perceive my haircut,” then I would answer: “Yes, but you can only perceive it after having ‘consumed’ it.” The difference between the tangible and the intangible comes at the time of the sale, not the purchase, which makes the services more difficult to sell.

This is why the services must use tangible elements to convey sensations and ideas before the purchase and make the client imagine what it will be like to consume that service. For example, following the hairdresser case, these could be photographs of other customers wearing their cuts or even short videos showing the processes. Even the atmosphere of the room and the staff’s presentation gives an idea of ​​the quality of the service.

Involvement Vs. Acquisition

As we saw in the previous aspect, services only become tangible until they are consumed. In other words, services do not start if there is not a client.

This difference is what makes a restaurant service and not a product. And the ingredients, the chefs, and the tables are there whether you are there or not, but only when you ask what you are going to eat, that dish materializes. At the same time, a package of fries in a dispensing machine will be where you buy it or not.  

This means that a key aspect of most services is that they are made to order. Of course, there is a menu in the restaurant, but that dish they are going to make is just for you. The same applies if you send to make a suit, go shopping at the supermarket or visit the doctor. Check out America's Best Bookkeepers

In this sense, products can learn something from services and involve personalization to a greater or lesser degree. It can be something as simple as the possibility of choosing between several types of packaging, colors, or shipping methods.

Homogeneity Vs. Heterogeneity

The products tend to be mass-produced, while the services are provided individually. Therefore, products are easier to standardize and evaluate before the sale, while services, circumstances, people, and other factors can affect the final product.

Therefore, services need to standardize their processes as much as possible and have a “Plan B” if any irregularity arises. It doesn’t sound very easy, but to give you an example, it’s the same thing that Domino’s Pizza does with its promise to deliver the free pizza if it takes more than 30 minutes to arrive (which rarely happens).

On the other hand, if there is a failure with a product, there is always the possibility of returning it. For this reason, in addition to doing exhaustive quality control, the companies of products must take care of after-sales, which enter the processes of return, guarantee, support, etc.

Storage Vs. Perishable

The products can always be stored, inventoried, and preserved for a while, while this is not the case in services. For example, if you stop selling a hotel room for a day, that is a sale that you can never recover.

In this regard, it is important to consider, both for the companies of products and services, calculate how sales behave over time and have plans to solve the seasons of less activity. Check out America's Best Bookkeepers

Need Vs. Trust

In essence, the products are good as long as they satisfy the need for which they were created. For example, if an anti-dandruff shampoo removes dandruff, then it’s good. If a computer works properly, it is a good computer. If a car takes you where you need it and does not have technical failures, then it’s a good car.

In the case of services, that perception of quality is based more on relationships of trust. Whether you hire a computer security consulting service for your company or you ask for an Uber to take you home, it is essential that you feel confident, both in the person (s) who provide you the service and in the processes they perform. Much of customer satisfaction depends on that trust.

This does not mean that trust relationships are not important in product marketing. To believe this and leave the entire responsibility to the product is a big mistake. Product companies should strive to monitor the service around their products, as this is also a fundamental part of the shopping experience.


While it is true that both products and services have different marketing needs, as you see, this does not mean that there are not things that they cannot learn from each other. So, I invite you to analyze what you sell and what marketing actions you can implement to enrich your customers’ shopping experience.

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