Frequently Asked Marketing Question

What's the difference between a product attribute and a product benefit?


Answer: Product attributes reside in the product, while benefits reside in the customer. For example, a cigarette can have reduced nicotine content (a concrete attribute), providing the customer the benefit of a less harmful smoking experience. Or basketball shoes can have extra support around the ankle (an attribute), reducing the wearer's chance of injury.

Product attributes tend to be concrete, but they can also be abstract. Think, for example, of a fast microprocessor. A computer can have a microprocessor with a fast clock speed (a concrete attribute) and provide the benefit of being able to get your job done faster. There is a more abstract way of thinking of this attribute by using the term "performance."

Benefits are always abstract, and they are often the result of a cluster of product attributes, some of which may be abstract attributes. For example, think of car safety. There is a cluster of concrete product attributes -- air bags, brakes, and body construction -- that give rise to the more abstract concept of the benefit of safety. But note that "safety" can also be applied to the car, making it an abstract product attribute. Many times, abstract product attributes are closely related to benefits. When they are, you do not get much benefit out of making a distinction between attributes and benefits.




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