Difference Between and Attributes of Concrete & Abstract Products
Products typically are defined by the collection of attributes they have and the benefits they offer customers. The primary difference between a concrete product attribute and an abstract product attribute is that a concrete attribute is tangible. With an abstract product or attribute, you can recognize the benefit that results, but you can't physically see the feature that provides it. Marketing products effectively usually involves explaining the benefits a customer receives from key product attributes.
A product potentially can have multiple significant concrete attributes. A sports car spec sheet might note, for instance, that the car has an anti-lock brake system, an eight-cylinder engine, leather seating, four doors and chrome wheels. These all are features of the product that you can see, or that were physically placed within the interior of the vehicle. The color of the car's exterior is also a concrete attribute. Each feature has an impact on your experience driving the vehicle.
With abstract product attributes, you often have to experience the results of interacting with the attribute or rely on a company's credibility when it promises resulting benefits. Level of smoothness is an example of an abstract product attribute. When finishing certain wood products, manufacturers often try to smooth out rough edges to create a smooth surface. In promoting "smooth surface" as a feature of the product, you have to rely on the customer's believe in your credibility or hope the customer tests this attribute by running his hand along the surface. While you can see a smooth surface, you may not know it is smooth without touching it.
In many cases, the same component or feature of a product can have both concrete and abstract attributes. The abstract smooth surface may have a natural oak color. The wood and finish is a tangible part of the product, and the customer typically can discern a preference for the look. This contrasts the inability to visibly detect the smoothness or durability. The customer typically must engage the product to identify these abstract attributes.
The distinction between concrete and abstract product attributes also relates closely to the difference between a product feature and a benefit. A feature is a quality the product has, while a benefit is the desired outcome the customer foresees when purchasing the product. The benefit of a natural oak finish is a pleasing aesthetic look for a room. The benefits of the "smooth surface" include the fact that the customer won't splinter his hand on it and it won't scratch objects placed on the surface.