Product vs. Commodity: NBC’s “Wide World of Sports”?

nbcderbyWe must be able to draw a distinction between a company’s commodity and it’s product.  The commodity is the good or service, while the product satisfies the need.  For example…

Apple produces iPhone’s as a commodity they put into the marketplace – the physical item that is sold.  But Apple also recognizes the perceived need in the public of the lifestyle on the go, so the product they sell is mobile office, the world at your fingertips.  Their commercials aren’t bandwidth this, gigabyte that, screensize galore.  When you walk into the Apple Store, you aren’t purchasing the physical phone.  Rather, they sell you the perceived need the phone fulfills in your life.  Apple is among the best at identifying your perceived needs, and delivering a product to you to fulfill those needs.

Which brings us to NBC.  Any great marketing campaign triggers a user experience that engages the user within the product.  NBC is looking to move their sports broadcast business from commodities to products in an effort to become the new “Wide World of Sports” from ABC’s glory days. 

In a series of ads and promos set to begin in earnest this weekend, NBC Sports will attempt to tie together its sports broadcasts that aren’t related to its Sunday-night National Football League games or the Olympics, its two marquee properties. Under the rubric of “Championship Season,” NBC will run print ads as well as on-air promos that attempt to bring together seven championship events that will run between May 2 and July 5: horse racing’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes; golf’s Players Championship and U.S. Open Championship; tennis’ French Open and Wimbledon; and hockey’s Stanley Cup Final.

Whether NBC can match their new product with a public need of 2nd tier sports championships (by NBC’s own admission of championships not related to “marquee properties”) will remain to be seen.  But in the meantime, we must ask ourselves: Are our businesses attempting to sell a commodity or a product?  And if we find ourselves selling commodities, it may be time to look in the mirror and readjust our thinking of our guests’ needs to realign our commodities within the marketplace as products.

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