A product is a good, service, or object specifically made to satisfy a consumer or business need. Anything that you buy at a retail store is a product, and every business that offers a service is selling a product. Consumer products are meant for personal use, meaning that it is intended to be used directly by a customer for things like home maintenance, hygiene, and entertainment. Industrial products aid in the operation of a business, which is meant to satisfy the needs of other customers.\nAll products fall into a series of four broad categories. Here is an overview of those categories. \n\n1. __Consumer products__: Consumer products are made and marketed for use by the customer for personal use. They are purchased by customers for purposes like hygiene, entertainment, or home maintenance. \n2. __Industrial products__: Industrial products are materials and services used to operate a business. This can include everyday equipment for the operation of a business—like computers or printers—or items to manufacture products meant for ultimate use by the consumer. Industrial products, which are used to produce goods and services, are often used to create consumer goods and services. \n3. __Tangible products__: Tangible products are items that you can physically hold or interact with, including products like cars or jewelry. \n4. __Intangible products__: Intangible products exist through a service or contract but have no physical presence, like a life insurance policy or software.\nThe product life cycle is the period of time from a product’s introduction into the marketplace through its removal from the market. A company's leadership must understand all stages of the [product life cycle](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/product-life-cycle-explained) in order to support a product throughout its existence. Below are the four stages of the product life cycle: \n\n1. __Introduction stage__: In this stage of the product life cycle, the product debuts. Whether the product launch is a global release or focused on a few new markets, considerable new product development costs go toward marketing campaigns to build brand awareness. Typically, a company develops its marketing strategy concurrently with the internal product development stage. This way, when the product is officially ready for public consumption, marketing efforts are already well underway.\n2. __Growth stage__: In the growth stage, the company attempts to seize greater market share for the product. Companies going through the growth stage must experiment with pricing to find the sweet spot that enables differentiation from the competition. Production ramps up, and sales representatives seek new distribution channels to get the product in the hands of consumers.\n3. __Maturity stage__: In the maturity stage, the product has reached the peak of its market share and profitability. To keep the product desirable to new audiences, a company might add new features or suggest new uses for the product.\n4. __Decline stage__: When advanced marketing and new product features cannot provide any further growth, the product enters its decline stage. Decline stages can take a matter of months, or they can span decades. Product decline occurs when customer brand preference shifts, when products become obsolete, and when professional reputations change. In some cases, changing demographics cause a product to fall out of fashion. Decline ends with a product being pulled from the shelves.\nConsumer products are produced and marketed for use by a retail customer, who is the end user in the supply chain, often meant to fulfill a practical or emotional need. The four main types of consumer products are classified according to their customer’s needs and intended uses. \n\n1. __Convenience products__: Convenience goods are tangible or intangible staple products that consumers purchase frequently for everyday use like toothpaste, shampoo, or milk, often sticking with the same brand whether out of preference, habit, loyalty, or simple convenience. Convenience goods are often non-durable [goods](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/nondurable-goods-in-economics) that are consumed over a short period of time and often bought impulsively or with minimal shopping effort. \n2. __Shopping products__: Shopping goods are tangible or intangible items that consumers spend more time researching than convenience goods because they are often more expensive and purchased less frequently. Some examples of shopping products may include items like clothing, electronics, homes, or cars. \n3. __Specialty products__: Specialty products are items with unique characteristics or goods with strong [brand identification](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-build-brand-equity). Usually, when consumers purchase specialty products like luxury cars, designer clothes, or sports equipment, it is because they are specifically after that particular product, and may put in special effort to acquire it. \n4. __Unsought products__: An unsought product is any tangible or intangible item or product that is not actively sought by a consumer and often bought to mitigate a hypothetical risk. Consumers don’t often think about unsought goods, and usually only consider purchasing them out of fear or the threat of potential danger—like fire extinguishers, flashlights, or funeral services.\nIndustrial products are support goods intended for use by a business, like a retailer or service company, rather than goods for personal human needs. Industrial goods are often bought for a series of logistical, business-related reasons and require a certain degree of skill to use. Here is an overview of the three kinds of industrial products. \n\n1. __Capital items__: Capital items facilitate the production process of an industrial good, but do not become part of the final product. Capital goods include factories, fixed equipment like generators, and accessory equipment like copiers, calculators, or other office equipment used by a business. \n2. __Materials and parts__: Raw materials—like livestock, wood, textiles, or produce—are industrial products that are processed or assembled to make up another physical product. Agricultural products like produce that are used to mass-produce food are also considered raw materials. Component parts—like wheels, gears, or wires—are sold directly to industrial users who assemble them to make a final product.\n3. __Business services and supplies__: Operating supplies are items that maintain a business’ functionality, making them the industrial equivalent of a consumer convenience good, like printer ink or repair tools which are staple items that keep a business running. Intangible goods like legal advisory or routine equipment maintenance are also considered industrial services.\nGet the [MasterClass Annual Membership](https://www.masterclass.com/) for exclusive access to video lessons taught by business luminaries, including Sara Blakely, Chris Voss, Robin Roberts, Bob Iger, Howard Schultz, Anna Wintour, and more.\nProducts are tangible or intangible goods that are used by consumers or businesses to fulfill a consumer or business need.