“Whole Product,” as it is traditionally defined, refers to adding more value to a product so that it adds more value to the lives of those who buy it.
Cup holders and DVD players in automobiles. Integration among office applications. On-board computer diagnostics for industrial punch machines. Travel services for credit card holders. Products that started with one set of features and, over time, added more and more features to add more and more value.
This meaning is, as usual, best expressed by Theodore Levitt's definition (in Differentiation—of Anything he called it “total product”)—a definition that is brilliant, pervasive and instructively outdated:
A product is, to the potential buyer, a complex cluster of value satisfactions.
“Cluster” is the perfect word. It implies restriction—things are either clustered around something or within something—pulled by some compelling force or pushed by some outer barrier into a restricted space. In this case, Levitt's “value satisfactions” are clustered within the bounds of the product—the confines of the “feature set.”
This product-centric approach sees Whole Product entirely, if you will, from the specific cluster's point of view. Our Whole Product goal is to make a continually bigger and better cluster.
From this perspective, the company that provides the most complete cluster of value satisfactions for its market is the one that's closest to achieving Whole Product.
Things Have Changed