Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference between Product and Service

Product vs Service

People require different services and products to satisfy various needs and wants. In this regard, it can be observed that the marketers play a pivotal role in marketing different products and services to various targeted customers. However, some people often confuse the two terms and often use them interchangeably to refer to one thing but a closer analysis between them shows that they are different. The major difference between the two concepts is that a product is tangible while a service is intangible. More details about the differences between a product and service are clearly outlined below.

Key Features of a product

The major key feature of a product is that it is physical and it is also tangible. This implies that a product can be held, it can be seen, felt or smelled. As such, the sale of a product is a once off transaction. However, it should also be noted that a product can be returned to the seller for replacement or refund in the event that it is wrong or damaged. When the customer is not satisfied with the product, he can return it to the seller in exchange of the right type of product desired.

The value of the product is often created and derived from the product by the user. In other words, the user knows what exactly he or she truly desires from a product hence the decision to buy it. It is the same customer who can derive value from purchasing a product unlike the value of the service that is created by the service provider.

The other important aspect about a product pertains to ownership. A product can be owned by the purchaser since ownership is transferred the moment a transaction has been performed. The fact that a product is tangible makes ownership transferrable unlike a service that can only be felt. Once a product has been bought, it can then be easily separated from the provider since the customer can take it home for personal use. Ownership of a service can therefore not be transferred to its user.

The customer care perspective of a product is limited compared to that of a service. In a service, it is customer care that attracts the buyers of that particular service while in a product, elements such as branding and other product features that differentiate it from similar products that attract the customers.

Difference between product and service-1

Key Features of a Service

A service is work done by another person for another individual. For instance, a person will visit a restaurant to have the desired services performed by other people while they relax on their tables. Legal advice is another good example of a service rendered to another person by professional lawyers. In most cases, people are usually attracted by the quality of service they get from a particular organization instead of the product itself. Quality service is satisfactory and people who are satisfied will continue doing business with the company.

The billing process of a service is continuous unlike that of a product. For instance, a service can be in the form of monthly subscriptions where a service is rendered upon receipt of the subscription. The other notable aspect about a service is that it cannot be returned to the provider since it is intangible. A service is something that can only be felt therefore cannot be returned.

The other issue about a service is about their variability. Services vary according to who provide them, where, when and how. Usually, the quality of the service is mainly determined by the service provider while the customer determines the value of the product upon its purchase. The quality of the service depends on the service provider. The marketers of a service should therefore have knowledge about what the customers really desire such that they can tailor their services to meet those needs. The marketers need to understand the features to sell to the customers.

Summary of Key Differences Between Services and Products

  1. Products are tangible – they are physical in nature such that they can be touched, smelled, felt and even seen. Services are intangible and they can only be felt not seen.
  2. Need vs. Relationship– a product is specifically designed to satisfy the needs and wants of the customers and can be carried away. However, with a service, satisfaction is obtained but nothing is carried away. Essentially, marketing of a service is primarily concerned with creation of customer relationship.
  3. Perishability- services cannot be stored for later use or sale since they can only be used during that particular time when they are offered. On the other hand, it can be seen that products are perishable. For example, fresh farm and other food products are perishable and these can also be stored for later use or sale.   
  4. Quantity- products can be numerically quantified and they come in different forms, shapes and sizes. However, services cannot be numerically quantified. Whilst you can choose different service providers, the concept remains the same.
  5. Inseparability- services cannot be separated from their providers since they can be consumed at the same time they are offered. On the other hand, a product can be separated from the owner once the purchase has been completed.  
  6. Quality- quality of products can be compared since these are physical features that can be held. However, it may be difficult to compare the quality of the services rendered by different service providers.
  7. Returnability- it is easier to return a product to the seller if the customer is not satisfied about it. In turn, the customer will get a replacement of the returned product. However, a service cannot be returned to the service provider since it is something that is intangible.
  8. Value perspective- the value of a service is offered by the service provider while the value of the product is derived from using it by the customer. Value of a service cannot be separated from the provider while the value of a product can be taken or created by the final user of the product offered on the market.
  9. Shelf line- a service has a shorter shelf line compared to a product. A product can be sold at a later date if it fails to sell on a given period. This is different with regard to a service that has a short shelve line and should be sold earlier.

Table showing the differences between a product and service

Product Service
A product is tangible, it is physical and can be held, seen and movable A service is intangible, can only be felt and not touched
Product value is derived by the customer Value of service is offered by the service provider
Customer care of the product is limited Customer care forms critical component of marketing a service
A product can be stored for future use A service is perishable and cannot be stored for later use or sale
A product can be owned A service cannot be owned by the consumer once payment has been made
The quality of a product depends its nature Quality of a service depends on the service provider who shapes it
A product can be returned to the seller A service cannot be returned to the seller
The billing process of a service is a once off transaction Billing process can be continuous in the form of subscriptions for services rendered
It is easy to compare quality of products It is difficult to compare the quality of services offered
Products can be quantified numerically Services cannot be quantified in terms of numbers


Though the terms product and service are often used interchangeably, it can be observed that they significantly differ. The major difference noted between the two is that a product is physical in nature and it is tangible. On the other hand, it can be seen that a service is intangible and it cannot be held therefore cannot be separated from the provider. Quality of the product is determined by the customer while the quality of a service is determined by the provider. A product can be stored for future use or sale and it can be returned to the buyer if the need arises. However, a service can be consumed the moment it is offered and cannot be stored for future use. A service cannot be returned to the service provider for any reason since it is jot tangible.

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  1. Rubbish. A good, a service, an idea are all products. Your difference is between a good and a service

  2. Easy to understand the concepts but u should include in types of services and types of different products while differentiating them

  3. Good article. Found this quite helpful.

  4. Very good to understand difference between product and service but I think the billing process of a product is a once off transaction

  5. This information help me so much

  6. Excellent it’s Soo helpful thanks

  7. It has really been helpful to my research, I advice researchers to embark on it for more knowledge about the differences of products and services. Thanks!!

  8. Thanks for your explanation

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References :

[0]Inforsurv research “^ Key Differences between product and service” http://www.infosurv.com/6-key-differences-between-marketing-services-and-products/

[1]Quora “What are the key differences between a "product" and a "service" in all contexts, not just software?” https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-key-differences-between-a-product-and-a-service-in-all-contexts-not-just-software

[2]"Image Credit: https://pixabay.com/en/product-production-silhouettes-516283/"

[3]"Image Credit: https://pixabay.com/en/service-reception-official-business-1019821/"

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