The Basics of Consumer Product Marketing

By Stephen Gill Icon

Consumer product marketing means "how you frame your product so it can market itself." A product is a lot more than just its physical attributes or verbal description. Rather, a product is a construct of tangible and intangible elements, tied together in a bundle of perceptions, which is what you are trying to sell.

Two excellent examples of effective consumer product marketing are Gatorade and Vitamin Water. Both are flavored waters with electrolytes and vitamins.

Gatorade has positioned itself on the football field, in the arena, in the locker room, wherever hardworking athletes are found. Because it is strongly affiliated with sports, sports lovers gravitate toward Gatorade, valuing it more highly than they do Vitamin Water.

Vitamin Water, on the other hand, is positioned as a nutritious drink for the health conscious consumer. Fans of Vitamin Water value it more highly than they do Gatorade. This shows that two very similar products can be effectively differentiated through marketing. So how do you put this strategy into practice?

Desire Defines a Product

First, make sure you know what your customers want your product to do. Obviously, the first step in marketing anything is to know what people want and how to give it to them, but desire also goes deeper than functionality. In our Gatorade example, what consumers want the product to do is give them vitamins and electrolytes - but also let them share in the energy and success of excellent athletes. Good marketing strategy planning is about supplying a useful product while simultaneously fulfilling such underlying wishes and desires.

The Magic Aura

So how do you go about creating the right aura for your product? "Aura" is symbolic and intangible, but it is something that you can create with the help of good consumer product marketing. Again, our two waters are perfect examples. The aura created for Gatorade is sports achievement, valor, hard work, sweat, success. For Vitamin Water, it is health, glow, care-taking, wisdom and self-awareness. In short, you want to make sure you are supplying your customers with a narrative that attracts them to your product. The "aura" of the product will be based on the interplay of customer desire and practicality, economic means and wish fulfillment.

Don't Forget That You, Too, Are Your Product

Every part of your business should represent your product and your product should represent everything about your brand. For example, If you are selling Gatorade, wear athletic gear. But the underlying point is that when you are making an appearance, negotiating a deal, writing ad copy, or coming up with marketing strategy plans, you are always a representative of your product and you are your product's bridge to the target market.

It's important to remember these four points:

  1. Products are more than things or descriptions; they are fantasies, wishes and narratives
  2. Make sure your products match the desires of your target market
  3. Give your product the right "aura" to appeal to your customer base
  4. You are a representative of your product

Consumer product marketing is about realizing that your product itself is its own best advertisement. Remember these fundamentals and you will excel.

Stephen Gill is the editor of - a guide to marketing strategy for small businesses. Read more about marketing strategy planning at his site.

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