The world economy nowadays is increasingly characterized as a service economy. This is primarily due to the increasing importance and share of the service sector in the economies of most developed and developing countries. In fact, the growth of the service sector has long been considered as indicative of a countrys economic progress.
Economic history tells us that all developing nations have invariably experienced a shift from agriculture to industry and then to the service sector as the main stay of the economy.
This shift has also brought about a change in the definition of goods and services themselves. No longer are goods considered separate from services. Rather, services now increasingly represent an integral part of the product and this interconnectedness of goods and services is represented on a goods-services continuum.
The American Marketing Association defines services as - Activities, benefits and satisfactions which are offered for sale or are provided in connection with the sale of goods.
The defining characteristics of a service are:
Intangibility: Services are intangible and do not have a physical existence. Hence services cannot be touched, held, tasted or smelt. This is most defining feature of a service and that which primarily differentiates it from a product. Also, it poses a unique challenge to those engaged in marketing a service as they need to attach tangible attributes to an otherwise intangible offering.
Given below are the fundamental differences between physical goods and services:
|A physical commodity||A process or activity|
|Production and distribution are separation from their consumption||Production, distribution and consumption are simultaneous processes|
|Can be stored||Cannot be stored|
|Transfer of ownership is possible||Transfer of ownership is not possible|