The concept of the augmented product tries to show how the overall view of the product and brand by fragmenting it into separate dimensions. Corey (1975) describes it as “the product is the total package of benefits that the customer receives when he buys. ” There are 3 dimensions; core, tangible and intangible. Through these dimensions the product can be differentiated from competitors and can highlight areas which could be expanded upon or capitalised on. The core product is the tangible features of the product, such as function, design, price and features, which can be easily imitated by competitors.
The core product focuses on the generic and functional aspects of a product. The tangible dimension which is sometimes referred to as the service dimension focuses on aspects such as pre and after-sales service, installation and delivery, warranty and advice. The intangible dimensions of the augmented product are the elements of the product or brand as they are perceived by the customer, for example, the reputation, the corporate image and the value perceptions of the brand. It is this third dimension which deals with the issue of brand sustainability.
The issue of brand sustainability is particularly important as de Chernatony, Harris and Dall’Olmo Reily (2000) noted “core brand values are sustainable buy physical brand values may not be... the symbolic and emotional meaning of the brand endures, (physical) attributes may not”. The concept of the augmented product has evolved over time. Some critics such as Levitt argue that The augmented product has arisen due to the “conditions of a mature market or a sophisticated customer” (Levitt, ). Customers now wanted added value to make their purchase worthwhile.
Whether this is in the form of extra benefits, a better offering than competitors or even brand personality. The augmented product can be used to show the development of the customer and the product. If we take the example of bread, from its humble beginnings of unbranded bread the core product has not necessarily changed much in over 100 years and the service dimension has not changed much in the past 50 years with the function and the availability and guarantee staying pretty much the same. The concept of the augmented product has evolved further in the recent years with the emergence of a 4th dimension, the potential phase.
As consumers have acclimatised to the augmented product to stop augmented brands falling back to the level of the expected product, marketers are now focusing on the potential level. This introduction of “value innovation”(de Chernatony and McDonald),which focuses making competition irrelevant by opening up new market space. Marketers must be careful when augmenting their product as “over-engineering” the brand as this can harm the brand and organisation in a number of ways. With non-relevant features/benefits leading the consumer perceive what they believe is a fair price for the product is now less than the economic cost of developing it.
Over-engineering can also cause the brand to become fragmented in a negative way, which can be more damaging in the long-term, than a fall in profits, for example Gucci tried to fragment its brand and target more consumers through accessories such as baseball caps, sunglasses and smaller, lower price point handbags. Although they saw a rise in profits initially, the once world famous premium fashion company became seen as cheap and “chav”. This new brand image affected their core target market and created a fall profits and damaged their brand image further.
To explore the concept of the augmented product in more detail, I have chosen to evaluate the Mulberry Bayswater handbag. Mulberry is a relatively new quality English fashion label that is popular with a range of ages and has enjoyed success in the media over the past 5 years. I have chosen to examine the Mulberry Bayswater as it part of my “evoke set”. This concept was introduced to marketing literature by John A. Howard in 1963 (Lecture Notes) and states that the typical consumer will choose from a limited number of brands which create the evoke set.
I will begin with examining the core product. The primary function of the Mulberry Bayswater is that it is a handbag. Its design is rather simplistic, a basic rectangle, with two compartments for storage and two over-shoulder straps. The Bayswater most prominent feature is a discrete brass clasp on the front of the bag. It is a very efficient bag as it fit in textbooks, an A4 file, a makeup bag, pencil case – whatever is deemed necessary. The packaging of the bag again is very simplistic, plain black leather, slightly textured.
The plain black leather Bayswater retails for around ? 50 but other variations can retail for as much ? 3,550. From the description of the core product, some people may wonder why it has such a high retail price but the tangible and more importantly the intangible dimensions of this bag are what give it such a premium price. The tangible dimensions of the Mulberry Bayswater are again rather basic for a premium handbag. There is advice on how to care for your handbag, a during sales service, a three year guarantee and after sales cleaning service to use whenever you wish. The sales service provided is complimentary.
It is within the intangible dimensions and its’ brand that Mulberry where is really able to validate the high prices for their products. As a brand, Mulberry has used a number of different methods to ensure that it is seen as desirable, luxurious and young. It carries out production in England, has an English creative director and uses English countryside and memorabilia as starting points for its design. There is a positive value perception of the Mulberry Bayswater. It may not be the cheapest handbag but it is seen as an investment that can be used for years and years.
Price is not the value which Mulberry focuses on as their main selling point, but rather they focus on the image value, social value and the cultural value. Mulberry has created a handbag which contributes to corporate prestige, image and identity. Their handbags have been create and marketed in such a way that most fashion conscious girls in the west and now in Asia want one so that they too can be included. A Mulberry handbag is a status symbol which can denote social standing, financial prosperity and good taste. As my essay attests to there are a number of users willing and eager to give testimonials to the Bayswater.
The concept of the augmented product is useful as it allows the organisation to get a full impression and view of their company, its brand and what users preferences. As my examination of the Mulberry Bayswater has shown although the core offering may be simplistic it is the branding and the presentation of values which really adds value to a product. Although the concept of the augmented product is useful, it is merely one tool which should be used when evaluating a brand. As previously stated it is also important to not “over-engineer” your brand.