What is a Product? Definition and Meaning in Business

Ever wondered what exactly a product is? Products are all around us. Imagine a product as anything that solves a problem you have or fulfills a desire. It could be physical, something you can hold in your hand. Or it could be something you can’t quite touch, like music streaming straight to your ears.

So, what is a product?

Products come in all shapes and sizes, existing in the physical world (like a skateboard), the digital realm (like video game software), or even as experiences (watching a movie). Sometimes, they’re even a mix of all these things. For example, a smartwatch—tells time, sure, but it also monitors your health stats through digital technology and might even come with a service plan to help you manage the data it collects.

Exploring the Wide World of Products

What is a product? Products come in a massive variety, from the simple stuff we use daily to super complex machines that seem like they’re from the future. Let’s break it down a bit.

  • Starting with consumer goods, these are the products we buy regularly such as clothes, food, and household items. These products we need or want can be found in stores or online. 
  • On the other end of the spectrum, we have industrial equipment. You won’t find these in your average shopping cart. They’re more like the heavy-duty machines used in factories to make cars or in construction to build skyscrapers.
  • Coming to service as a product. For instance, when your family hires someone to paint your house, that’s a product they’re buying. Or consider digital platforms like streaming services where you watch videos. Similarly, consultancies that help businesses improve also come under products.
  • We have to consider intangible products like software and online services as well. The apps on your phone or the online courses you can take to learn are intangible products. These products are fascinating because you can’t really touch them, but they’re super valuable and make a big difference in our lives.

For businesses looking to navigate the complex product landscape, whether in the consumer or industrial sectors, partnering with expert services can help. Codewave streamlines the process with its design-led tech development services for various industries, which are geared toward bringing visionary products to life. 

The Essential Elements of a Product

What is a product? A product is a mix of three very important ingredients—Customer Needs, Business Viability, and Technology. How?

  1. Breaking Down the Equation

Starting with Customer Needs. This is all about understanding what the customer, really wants or needs. If a company doesn’t go above and beyond to understand what drives its customers, they won’t be interested in their products.

Next up is Business Viability. This means that whatever is being sold needs to make sense money-wise for the business.

Lastly Technological Feasibility, it’s  all about whether or not the product can actually be made with current technology.

Codewave excels in blending customer insights with business viability and cutting-edge technology to develop scalable solutions for SMEs.

  1. Connecting Everything 

Think about how products often depend on other products. In both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) sense, many products are actually components of other products. 

For example, the screen on your smartphone is made by one company and then sold to another that makes the whole phone. It’s like a giant web, where every product plays a part in another product’s life.

  1. Adding the Extras

Sometimes, the accessory customers but later is as important as the main product. For example, an inkjet printer. The printer, without ink cartridges, is pretty much a big paperweight. 

Here, the cartridges become the main products. They’re consumables that you need to keep buying, and that’s where a lot of businesses make their bread and butter.

Also Read: Product Thinking: Deliver What Matters

The Evolution of Product Definition

The way we define ‘What is a product?’ has transformed thanks to the digital revolution. 

Historical Definition

Back in the day, a product was pretty much anything tangible—like tools, clothes, or bread—that you could sell at a market. It was all about physical goods that people could touch, use, and own.

Introduction of Digital Transformation

Now, thanks to digital transformation we’re not just talking about things you can hold. Digital products like software, apps, and online platforms are all designed to fulfill needs or solve problems, just like physical products. 

The rise of smartphones and the internet has broadened our understanding of products.  For example, an app on your phone that helps you study is as much a product as a textbook.

Users as a Product

In some cases, like on social media platforms, the product isn’t just the app or the website—it’s actually the users. More specifically, the information and content they provide. While they’re scrolling and posting, their data is being collected and used for targeted advertising. 

In a way, users are the product being sold to advertisers, just like traditional media like TV or radio. What the broadcasters are really selling to advertisers is the audience watching or listening.

Decoding the Different Types of Products

In the world of business, products are categorized based on who buys them and how they are bought. 

Different Products for Different Markets

Products are split into three big market categories: consumer products, business products, and industry-specific products.

  • Consumer products are what you buy for personal use. Think about the snacks you grab from the store or the phone you use.
  • Business products (also known as B2B products) are those sold from one business to another. These are usually things that help a company operate but aren’t necessarily sold to the final consumer.
  • Industry-specific products are those tailored to meet the needs of a particular sector, like medical equipment for hospitals or heavy machinery for construction.

Consumer Products Based on Purchasing Behavior

Consumer products are categorized based on buying behavior.

  • Convenience products: These are items you buy regularly without much thought—like bread or toothpaste.
  • Shopping products: For these, you probably do a bit of research and compare between options. Think of buying a smartphone or a pair of jeans.
  • Specialty products: These are products you go out of your way to find because they’re unique or have a special quality, like designer clothes or luxury cars.
  • Unsought products: These are items you don’t think about much until you need them, like insurance or emergency car repairs.

Business Products (B2B)

When we talk about business products, think of things that help companies do their job. However, these aren’t part of the final product you buy. For example, software solutions like programs that help businesses manage their finances, track inventory, or even run their website. These products are crucial for businesses to operate smoothly and efficiently.

Industry-Specific Products

Each industry has its own specific needs. The products designed for these industries have to meet certain requirements. For example, in the energy sector, you might find advanced turbines and solar panels, while the healthcare sector uses everything from simple bandages to complex MRI machines. 

Complete Product Experience (CPE)

Buying a product isn’t just about bringing something home; it’s about everything from seeing the ad to the ease of purchase to getting help if you need it. This whole experience is a Complete Product Experience (CPE).

More Than Just the Product

A smart company thinks about every little detail beyond just the product features. This includes 

  • How it’s marketed (Are the ads catchy? Do they speak to you?)
  • How it’s sold (Is it easy to buy online or in a store?)
  • The technology behind it (Is the website smooth and easy to navigate?)
  • The support you get (Is there someone helpful to talk to if something goes wrong?)

All these elements make up the product experience.

Seamless Customer Interaction

Having a seamless interaction from start to finish is key. Businesses need to ensure that every touchpoint—whether it’s online, on the phone, or in a store—is smooth. When everything flows nicely, you’re more likely to enjoy the experience and stick with the brand.

The Extras

The following things can boost the value of a product. 

  • Third-party integrations (like how smart devices can work with another tech in your home)
  • Clear and fair policies (so you know what you can expect and what’s expected of you)
  • Rock-solid support system (help when you need it, no fuss) 

After you understand ‘What is a product?’, why not understand the various challenges in product development. 

Challenges in Product Development

In the world of creating new products, risks are like uninvited guests at a party.

Major Risks

  • Usability Risk: This is all about whether people can easily use the product. If it’s too complicated, chances are it won’t catch on.
  • Feasibility Risk: Can this product even be made? Sometimes, what sounds good on paper doesn’t always work out due to technical limitations.
  • Business Viability Risk: Here’s where the money talk comes in. Can this product make enough money to justify the cost of making it?
  • Value Risk: This is about whether the product actually solves a problem or improves lives.

The Trio

When developing a product, think of technology, design, and business decisions as a trio.

  • Technology brings the know-how, making sure the product can do what it promises.
  • The design ensures the product isn’t just functional but also appealing and easy to use.
  • Business strategies determine how it will fit into the market and attract customers.

Overcoming Misconceptions and Narrow Views

Common misconceptions like “everyone will love this feature” or “it worked there, it will work here” can derail a project. Teams need to stay open to feedback and be ready to divert their approach. They should challenge their own assumptions and continuously test their ideas in real-world conditions.

Why Understanding Your Product Matters?

Let’s dive into why knowing a product through and through is crucial for those creating it.

Mastering the Product and Its Place in the Market

For product managers, it’s not just about having a good product; it’s crucial to understand what it does, who it’s for, and where it fits in the bustling market. A deep understanding of the product’s value proposition is essential. Like, why should someone care about it? 

Tuning Into User Needs and Buyer Personas

For both free and paid products, knowing the buyer personas (customer profiles) can steer the product towards success. It influences everything from the design and features of the product to the marketing messages and sales strategies. 

Cross-Functional Teams

Creating a product isn’t a one-person show. It involves a team of employees from different areas—like engineers, marketers, salespeople, and customer support—all working together. It balances the equation of customer needs, business goals, and what’s technically possible. Each team member brings a different perspective.


What is a product? In the business sense, a product can be anything that’s created to meet a need or want. This could be a physical item, a service, or even a digital product. 

Creating these products requires a balanced, well-informed approach that covers understanding what the customers really want, making sure it’s something that can actually be made, and ensuring that it can turn a profit. 

If you’re a leader in areas like product management, design, or engineering, try to create a deep, comprehensive understanding of the products among your teams. Partnering with the right teams to bring those products to market is crucial.

For leaders in product management, design, or engineering, leveraging Codewave’s extensive expertise in design-led tech development can foster a deep, comprehensive understanding of your products and significantly enhance your market strategy. 

Explore Codewave’s innovative services and unlock the potential of your business.

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