What Are Product Attributes? (With Types and FAQs)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published July 4, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A product refers to any item created to meet customers' needs. When marketing one, describing all attributes can help customers make an informed purchasing decision. By learning what a product's attributes are, you can understand how to highlight and use them for product development and marketing. In this article, we define product attributes, discuss the types and importance, share helpful tips for managing them, explore other factors influencing customers' buying behaviour, and answer frequently asked questions.

What are product attributes?

Product attributes are the characteristics or properties defining a unique product. For example, you can differentiate a watch manufactured by two brands by listing each product's attributes. If you work in sales, marketing, or product development, identifying customers' preferred attributes and aligning them with a company's ideas can help you create a marketable product.

Related: Understanding the Process of Decision-Making in Management

Types of product attributes

Products generally have the following attribute types:

Tangible attributes

Tangible attributes refer to a product's properties in its physical form. They are characteristics you can see, hear, touch, smell, or taste. For example, if a customer wants to buy a new car, they might be considering tangible attributes, such as the car's size, colour, and material composition. In this case, if they prefer a two-door, red sports car, they're searching for a preferred product based on its tangible attributes. Here are other attributes you can recognize using your senses:

  • Weight: describes how heavy an item is

  • Shape: describes an item's form

  • Quantity: is the measurable or countable amount of an item

  • Volume: is the amount of space an item occupies

Intangible attributes

Intangible attributes refer to a product's nonphysical properties or characteristics. These attributes are often subjective and may include the status associated with product ownership, a manufacturer's service commitment, or a brand's overall reputation. For example, if a customer prioritizes a product's price, reliability, or style, they're generally searching for an item based only on its intangible attributes. Alternatively, they may consider both tangible and intangible attributes. For example, an informed customer might evaluate a laptop's dimensions and perceived quality before making a purchase. While the product's dimensions are its tangible attributes, its perceived quality is intangible.

Importance of a product's attributes

A product's attributes can influence customers' preferences and decision-making if they meet defined needs and wants. In business settings, a need is a customer's requirement, while a want is a desire. For example, suppose a customer needs a bag with many compartments and wants a fashionable item. You can influence their purchase decision by offering one with large dimensions and high perceived quality. A product's tangible and intangible attributes create value for customers.

Related: The Importance of Customer Needs and How to Identify Them

Tips for managing attributes

Here are the best practices for identifying and handling a product's attributes:

Use PIM software

Product information management (PIM) is the process of collecting, managing, and distributing all product information from a central location. For example, you can use PIM software to gather data on a product's attributes before product development. PIM software aims to protect and ensure accurate product information available to internal and external collaborators, including customers. For example, you might use one to store a car's tangible attributes, such as engineering specifications and colour options.

Collaborate with team members

Working as a part of a team can help you define a product's attributes and research a target audience's preferences. For example, suppose you work for a company developing smartphones. Before deciding on its size, weight, colour, or design, you can consider researching user preferences across various provinces and territories. Working with team members can help you find answers quickly to help ensure product development and marketing progresses as planned.

Read more: Tips to Help You Succeed When Collaborating on Projects

Study competitors

Aside from independent research, you can also evaluate an industry leader's product attributes. This can help you better understand potential customers' needs and wants. For example, suppose you work for an emerging company that wants to use wood to make spoons. By studying an industry leader's product, you might discover that potential customers prefer stainless-steel utensils.

Read more: How to Write a Competitive Analysis in 5 Easy Steps

Read product reviews

Exploring product reviews can give you more insights into customers' needs and wants. This way, you can continue with your selected tangible and intangible attributes or make changes. For example, suppose a competitor's customers provide constructive criticisms on a chair's quality and size. You can use these insights to make changes to tangible and intangible attributes in your own products.

Related: A Guide to Technical Product Management (With Definition)

Other factors influencing customers' buying behaviour

Aside from a product's attributes, you can also focus on the following factors to influence customers' buying behaviour:

Situational factors

A situational factor is an external influence that can impact customers, such as the environment. For example, suppose a company establishes a store around its target audience. In this case, the store's location is a situational factor because it offers easy access to products, which can influence purchases.

Similarly, many stores place bread and milk products at opposite ends, knowing that customers often want both items. To buy these items, customers generally walk across several aisles containing other products that might interest them. In this case, the store's layout is a situational factor that can influence customers to buy items they see while walking to get bread or milk.

Related: How to Perform a Situational Analysis (With Definition)

Personal factors

Personal factors describe each customer and how their inclinations influence purchases. For example, a customer might purchase a book if they want to become a reader. Similarly, a target audience's age might influence whether they buy a walking cane or the latest video game. Here are other personal factors that may affect purchase decisions:

  • personality

  • self-concept

  • career

Related: What Is a Target Market? (Plus 5 Steps to Help You Identify One)

Societal factors

Societal factors describe the influences of community members or social groups on purchases. For example, a group's culture can influence clothing purchases. Similarly, a customer's income group can impact their decision to buy a luxury car.

Psychological factors

Psychological factors describe customers and actions that drive them to seek satisfaction through product purchases. For example, a customer's desire to achieve academic fulfilment can impact their decision to buy a textbook. Aside from motivation, here are other psychological factors a customer might consider:

  • attitude

  • learning

  • perception

FAQs about attributes

Exploring the following questions and answers can help you learn more about a product's tangible and intangible attributes:

Do intangible products have attributes?

Intangible products can have attributes. An intangible good is an item that doesn't have a physical nature, such as mobile apps and downloadable music. Their attributes are also intangible. For example, downloadable playlists generally have a perceived quality among target listeners or a sample population. Similarly, a mobile app's reliability is often an intangible attribute.

What is management's role in defining a product's attributes?

Managers typically approve a product's attributes before product development. Depending on their specific role, they may also convey these tangible and intangible attributes to a target audience. For example, a marketing manager might oversee campaigns involving a product's attributes and how it meets customer preferences and needs.

What is the difference between a product's benefit and attributes?

A product's benefits describe its positive effects on users when they interact with it. These effects may be short- or long-term, depending on the product and its features. For example, the primary benefit of buying a car is often to enjoy safer, faster transportation over many years. In comparison, attributes are a product's traits.

Related: Product Features vs. Benefits: Definition and Examples

How do you find a PIM software program?

Researching PIM software can help you identify free and paid options you can use. Here are essential features to consider when selecting these software programs:

  • User interface: A user-friendly interface can be easy to navigate or use. Consider icon and feature locations on the software program.

  • Security features: Because these programs contain design specifications and intellectual property, you can search for options with advanced security options. For example, software with advanced encryption standards may help keep product information private.

  • Data management tools: Consider the program's tools for managing and distributing product information, including attributes.

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