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How to Tell Products from Services

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Services have characteristics that set them apart from products:

  • Products are tangible; services are intangible. Buyers can’t see, feel, smell, hear or taste a service before they agree to buy it. When they purchase services, they must purchase a promise of satisfaction and that requires a leap of faith that purchasing a product does not.
  • Services can be separated from their providers. People deliver most services. To buy a service, you must meet the one who provides it. Naturally, you come to believe that a person brings something special to the process. The degree to which inseparability matters vary from their providers affects you in a fundamental way.
  • Services are perishable. Services provided by people can’t be stored. Your service is not like a product that will sit on the shelf waiting for a buyer. When the plane takes off with empty seats, they can never be sold again.