By type of user, the major distinctions are consumer products, which are products purchased by the ultimate consumer, and business products, which are products that assist in providing other products for resale. Consumer products can be broken down based on the effort involved in the purchase decision process, marketing mix attributes used in the purchase, and the frequency of purchase: (a) convenience products are items that consumers purchase frequently and with a minimum of shopping effort; (b) shopping products are items for which consumers compare several alternatives on selected criteria; (c) specialty products are items that consumers make special efforts to seek out and buy; and (d) unsought products are items that consumers do not either know about or initially want. Business products can be broken down into (a) components, which are items that become part of the final product, such as raw materials or parts, and (b) support products, which are items used to assist in producing other goods and services and include installations, accessory equipment, supplies, and industrial services. Services can be classified in terms of whether they are delivered by (a) people or equipment, (b) business firms or nonprofit organizations, or (c) government agencies. Firms can offer a range of products, which involve decisions regarding the product item, product line, and product mix. The product life cycle describes the stages a new product goes through in the marketplace: introduction, growth, maturity, and decline. Product sales growth and profitability differ at each stage, and marketing managers have marketing objectives and marketing mix strategies unique to each stage based on consumer behavior and competitive factors. In the introductory stage, the need is to establish primary demand, whereas the growth stage requires selective demand strategies. In the maturity stage, the need is to maintain market share; the decline stage necessitates a deletion or harvesting strategy. Some important aspects of product life cycles are (a) their length, (b) the shape of the sales curve, (c) how they vary by product classes and forms, and (d) the rate at which consumers adopt products. Marketing executives manage a product's life cycle three ways. First, they can modify the product itself by altering its characteristics, such as product quality, performance, or appearance. Second, they can modify the market by finding new customers for the product, increasing a product's use among existing customers, or creating new use situations for the product. Finally, they can reposition the product using any one or a combination of marketing mix elements. Four factors trigger a repositioning action. They include reacting to a competitor's position, reaching a new market, catching a rising trend, and changing the value offered to consumers. A basic decision in marketing products is branding, in which an organization uses a name, phrase, design, symbols, or a combination of these to identify its products and distinguish them from those of its competitors. Product managers recognize that brands offer more than product identification and a means to distinguish their products from competitors. Successful and established brands take on a brand personality and acquire brand equity—the added value a given brand name gives to a product beyond the functional benefits provided—that is crafted and nurtured by marketing programs that forge strong, favorable, and unique consumer associations with a brand. A good brand name should suggest the product benefits, be memorable, fit the company or product image, be free of legal restrictions, and be simple and emotional. Companies can and do employ several different branding strategies. With multiproduct branding, a company uses one name for all its products in a product class. A multibranding strategy involves giving each product a distinct name. A company uses private branding when it manufactures products but sells them under the brand name of a wholesaler or retailer. Finally, a company can employ mixed branding, where it markets products under its own name(s) and that of a reseller. Packaging, labeling, and warranties play numerous roles in the marketing of a product. The packaging component of a product refers to any container in which it is offered for sale and on which label information is conveyed. Manufacturers, retailers, and consumers acknowledge that packaging and labeling provide communication, functional, and perceptual benefits. Contemporary packaging and labeling challenges include (a) the continuing need to connect with customers, (b) environmental concerns, (c) health, safety, and security issues, and (d) cost reduction. Warranties indicate the liability of the manufacturer for product deficiencies and are an important element of product and brand management.