Part A: With Products, is it Form or Function?
Consumers are presented with the dilemma of making choices on what qualities the products they want to purchase in the market. In making their decisions, consumers often compromise one attribute for another that they desire the most. The phrase "form follows function" is frequently used, but this does not mean that it is true. However, studies have shown that an above phrase is an outdated approach to looking at what matters the more in the modern marketing. The recent studies show that most consumers consider the functionality more important than form. In marketing, consumers engage with things not only because they have to but also because they want to. Therefore, they often trade off one attribute of the product for another to get what they want. For instance, in a situation where someone wants to purchase a car, he or she needs to sacrifice some attributes like safety for the car price.
Based on the principle of precedence, consumers tend to attach themselves to greater significance to functionality other than form until they meet the desired level of functionality (Townsend et al., 2011). For instance, when someone wants to buy a phone he or she chooses that phone which has the highest functionality such as long-lasting battery life. In this case, marketers need to understand that product functionality is what makes the difference in the market today. Unlike many years back when the competition was lower, consumers today have a variety of product forms or designs to select from due to increased competition. Therefore, when it comes to brand success, product functionality is the key to success. Consumers interact with many products in the market, but they choose to select a brand that will meet the functions that they need it for. As mentioned earlier, when someone wants to purchase a car, he or she knows that his or her life is at risk, but one decides to purchase a car that will meet his or her functionality needs. In this case, one tends to respond to his or her social belonging need by getting a product that tends to meet his or her functionality wants. Even though many people argue that form, design or usability is more important that the user's desirability, but this is not true in the context of today's market.
Critics of functionality argue that product design is more important than functionality. According to Kumar and Noble (2016), product design offers the first contact between the consumer and the product. The product design can only matter in a situation where the product is the only one available. However, in a situation where there is variety to choose from, consumers go for that product which will help him or she accomplish the task he or she wants as quickly and hassle-free as possible. According to Townsend et al. (2011), consumers purchase the products that will satisfy their needs; this means that they focus on functionality instead of form or design. Someone goes for the specific product that can meet his or her functionality needs. Commoditization is a great marketing problem today because the sellers do not understand the context of consumer's behavior and decision making in the market. Commoditization approach may be effective when the product is the only one in the market. In this sense, consumers will find the time to stumble while they look for something else they may like. But, in a situation where there are a variety of brands offering the same product, consumers go for that product which they believe will fulfill their needs; thus, functionality. However, the design also matters in a way because when a consumer goes to a new market he or she goes for a product that is more familiar. This can be through design or form; therefore, even though functionality is the key to brand success, both form and functionality play a critical role in brand marketing.
Part B: Is it the Right Price a Fair price?
Marketers are presented with more difficulties in marketing because they have to decide on what exactly constitutes a fair price or right price. This dilemma is presented due to many reasons; for instance, consumers must be convinced on the prices they pay for if they have to become loyal customers, the marketers need to be convinced that the charges they offer the consumers is the fair prices, and the regulatory agencies also need to be convinced that the prices that marketers are charging are fair. All these reasons make it more difficult for the marketers to determine the right and fair prices for the products.
The product price is determined as fair by the consumer and not the seller; this is the wrong approach that most sellers adopt. Hayes and Miller (2010) argue that sellers tend to think that a fair price should reflect their cost of doing business as well as the profit objectives. But, this is wrong because fairness of a price is determined by the consumer. Bachman argues that there is no such thing as unfair prices in the market. Instead, what is there is a consumer who cannot afford the product. According to Bachman (2012), people who cannot afford a product that they want may not really matter when it comes to fairness. However, what really matters is when people are unable to afford what they need. Therefore, prices should primarily reflect the cost of production in the market. Courty and Pagliero (2012) explain that consumers are presented with a wide range of dilemmas that lead them to wonder how the organizations are setting the prices of commodities or services. Considering the externalities will greatly influence the way a firm sets its prices.
The right prices in most cases may not be fair to some consumers. The fair prices may not also be right for the organization considering the cost of production. However, when it comes to marketing, each of these aspects is equally important, but the right prices may be the best way to market a product. According to Bachman (2012), fair prices involve the perception but not affordability. The author explains that when setting a price, marketers need to consider the affordability of the product; which means that they need to focus on the right price. Fairness of a price tends to appeal to the psychological and social elements, but the right way to go about setting a price is to use the right pricing approach. For instance, when setting the right price for a product, it should be based on the market forces of demand and supply in the market. Considering the externalities such as the influence or impact of the product use in the environment will set the product fair and right. Therefore, a true right and fair price include both the externalities as well as the forces of demand and supply in the market.
Even though some people may argue that organizations need to set a price that customers will be comfortable with, this study has shown that setting a price for a product or service is difficult. There are various reasons why organizations may decide to set a certain price; but, as long as it considers both the externalities and forces regarding the supply and demand of the product. However, it is important to note that both aspects are equally important in marketing.
Bachman, T. (February 1, 2012). Fair Price, Just Price, or Right Price? Business2Business Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.business2businessonline.com/Article/739
Courty, P., & Pagliero, M. (2012). What's the right price? Three views on why firms price discriminate. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organizations.
Hayes, D., & Miller, A. (November 17, 2010). What is A Fair Price? And Who Gets to Decide? Hospitalitynet.org. Retrieved from https://www.hospitalitynet.org/opinion/4049159.html
Kumar, M., & Noble, C. H. (2016). Beyond form and function: Why do consumers value product design?. Journal of Business Research, 69(2), 613-620.
Townsend, J. D., Montoya, M. M., & Calantone, R. J. (2011). Form and function: A matter of perspective. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 28(3), 374-377.
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