Service Marketing Examples – 5 Major Characteristics of Services

Best Service Marketing: 5 Unique Characteristics of Service Marketing

What are the distinctive characteristics of services with examples? Service marketing refers to economic activities offered by one party to another either as Business to Consumer services or as Business to Business services. Business to Consumer services is probably the most common model of service marketing and it involves a service exchange from a business to a consumer.

Business to Business services is a service marketing model that involves a business making a transaction with another business. This occurs typically when a business needs the services of another for operational reasons.

Characteristics of Services and Service Marketing

Service marketing is intangible and refers to marketing of services such as healthcare services, hospitality services, financial services, travel services, professional services and so on.

Service marketing is focused on the distinctive characteristics of services and how these characteristics affect customer behaviour and marketing strategy.

In this post, I will be sharing with you the classification of services in service marketing as well as the unique features and characteristics of services which include the following:

There are 5 Ps of the marketing mix in service marketing 

Service Marketing: 5 Unique Characteristics of Services

1. Product 
Product in this case refers to services which are intangible, heterogeneous and perishable. Its production and consumption are inseparable, which enables the service to be customized to the consumer’s requirements making room for a better experience for the consumer.

A restaurant in which your food is prepared when you order gives more options to the consumer than a fast food restaurant where the food has already been prepared.

2. Pricing
While the prices of goods or products can be easily calculated or fixed by taking into account the cost of raw materials, fixing the price for a service is tougher as service attendant costs such as labor and overhead costs have to also be added to the mix.

So for instance, while the price of a movie DVD may be fixed at any time (a product), the cost of seeing a movie at the cinema will not just include the price of the movie, but also the cost of the ambience and environment provided to the consumer and off course a profitable margin.

3. Place 
The location of a service product is very important since the service delivery is inseparable from the production and consumer experience. This requires service providers to give adequate thought to where the service will be provided.

4. Promotion 
Institutions that offer nearly identical services such as banks, insurance companies, and airlines invest heavily in advertising and promoting their brands as this is crucial in making their service offering stand out. A service offering can be easily replicated by another service provider, hence the need to distinguish your brand’s offerings from others in the minds of your potential consumer via promotion and advertising.

5. People
A service provider’s inseparability from the service means that the consumer experience is defined both by the quality of the service received as well as the person providing the service.

A banking experience is judged both by the services offered and the service provided by its staff. Consequently, organizations that provide services place a premium on customer service training for their staff.

There are five essential characteristics of a service which need to be considered during marketing;

• Variable
• Perishable 
• Intangible
• Inseparable 
• Lack of Ownership

1. Variable 

Manufactured products are usually made by processes that are highly automated and quality assurance procedures that result in the making of a product that is consistent across board.

However, no two services will be completely identical since humans are involved in the provision of these services. For example, you may go to your favourite restaurant to order for a plate of rice and chicken on a Monday at 2.00pm. If you return to the restaurant the next Monday at 2.00pm and order for a plate of rice and chicken, you may find out that either the food will taste slightly different (better or worse), or it may take longer or shorter for your order to arrive, or the customer service may vary, etc. even if you are being attended to by the same people on the same day of the week, and at the same time of the day.

Consider another instance-if you listen to an audio recording of your favourite song either in mp3, CD, cassette, or even online streaming, the experience will always be the same each time you listen. However, if you listen to the band playing it live at three different times, the experience will be different each of those three times. So service differs from one user experience to another and this is known as service variability.

2. Perishable 

Perishability of service implies that service can be lost forever if not used in time since service cannot be stored in a warehouse or in an inventory. The element of time has a great significance in service marketing and is always a consideration to service providers.

This is the reason a cinema or movie house will sell tickets at higher prices on some days especially weekends, and on other days, they sell at a reduced price with popcorn and drinks as incentives to attract customers.

This pattern is seen in various applications among service providers; network service providers offer give-away data and call packages at off-peak periods, airline prices peak at busy times, railway and bus fares are at the lowest during less busy periods and highest during festive periods due to the mass movement of people to various locations.

3. Inseparable 

While a product can be taken from the producer, a service cannot be separated from the service provider as it is the provider of the service or their representatives that will be doing something for the user or consumer of the service.

For example, a doctor provides treatment to a patient on the spot. You cannot separate the doctor’s skills or services from the doctor. If you go for a live concert organized by a band, you are enjoying and experiencing the services of the band and you cannot carry that performance home with you.

If you buy a DVD of the performance, you are buying a product of the band, no more a service. This characteristic of service marketing means that instant feedback can be gotten by the service provider thereby improving service quality. This implies localization, meaning that service consumption and production are inseparable.

4. Intangible 

A service is deemed intangible in the sense that it is something that has to be experienced by a consumer. A service cannot be held or touched like a product can. For example, you may be given a Master’s degree certificate in a certain field, which is a sign that you went through the requirements.

The real knowledge gained though is not the certificate, but the lessons learnt during the lectures, and this cannot be touched-it is not tangible.

5. Lack of Ownership

A consumer cannot own a service since it is basically an experience. Once it has been consumed it cannot be sold to someone else. For example, if you pay a makeup artist to make you up for your wedding, you do not own the make-up artist, the tools, nor the service. You cannot sell the make-up that has been done on you to someone else.


Your goal as a entrepreneur is to successfully market your goods and services. This post contains 5 unique service characteristics and marketing implications for a successful business startup and expansion.
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Below, I’ll be showing you about 5 major unique characteristics of services or classification of services with examples.

5 Characteristics Of Service Marketing – Marketing Characteristics Of Industrial Goods
==> Preservation Challenges
==> Insubstantial Nature
==> Problems Of Consistency
==> Business Is Indivisible
==> Momentary Ownership

Characteristics of Services – Service Marketing Characteristics Example
Some characteristics of services marketing have been highlighted in the post below.

1. ==> Preservation Challenges
Problems of preservation is one of the major characteristics of service products that is highly discouraging. Some services are much more perishable when compared to physical products. Take for instance an inter-state transport company. I know you are wondering how this business could be more perishable than dairy or fresh flower products. Most service products cannot be preserved like physical goods that can be returned and even offered for sale again. If the transport company fails to sell all the seats on that bus, sales that should account for the empty seats is irreversibly lost.

MORE: How To Use Your Competitors’ Strength Against Them

2. ==> Insubstantial Nature

A powerful advantage of physical product is that it can be displayed in stores, shelves and warehouses for people to examine before making purchase decisions. If you look closely at most service products, for instance banking service, you cannot assess, touch or see any product so buying decision can only be formed from recommendations, past experience, outlet design and even verbal conviction.

HOT: 5 Marketing Strategies To Improve Sales In Business

3. ==> Problems Of Consistency

Companies producing physical products have taken special efforts to ensure that the quality of their products so not vary with noticeable margins. You can be sure a bottle of Pepsi may not taste different significantly over a period of years but businesses offering services rely heavily on human factors – the skills of those delivering the services, so the consistency of service quality cannot be guaranteed.

4. ==> Business Is Indivisible
One unique characteristic of service marketing is that separating service provider, service consumption and service consumers is extremely difficult. You cannot take a ‘photography studio’ home for consumption and you need a barber to be present physically to have the service delivered. Consumption of most service-oriented businesses is usually at that point of provision. This has a way of influencing production operations, small marketing strategies and channels of distribution.

5. ==> Momentary Ownership
In conclusion, another property of service product is that clients do not take total control of the product. Ownership is just transferred within a stipulated time. What a customer pays for is to get access to use such service within a limited time. You are allowed to take away a canned food that is purchased at a mart but same does not go for a businesses offering hotel rooms or ATM services. You can lodge over the weekend or withdraw money quite alright but you are not permitted to lay total claim to such products.

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