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Should Consumers Care About Your Product? - Important vs. Determinant Attributes

Updated on July 6, 2012

All products and services are comprised of attributes that help distinguish them from competitors, but only certain ones actually affect a consumer’s decision to buy. The two major types of attributes are important attributes and determinant attributes.

Important Attributes

Important attributes are those characteristics of a product or service that are important in the minds of consumers for all products or services in a given category. For instance, important attributes for toothpaste might include price, cleaning teeth, and making breath smell better. Regardless of segment, consumers who are shopping for toothpaste will be looking for a product that satisfies these basic attributes.

Determinant Attributes

Determinant attributes are those characteristics of a product or service that actually affect a consumer’s decision to purchase one product or service over another. Using the same toothpaste example, possible determinant attributes could include teeth whitening, cavity protection, or tartar control. Every product should have at least one determinant attribute, some will have more than one, but (sadly) most don’t have any, which is great news for you because it will make finding your unique selling proposition that much easier.

If your product is lacking a significant determinant attribute, or worse, any important attributes, then you may need to rethink your design.


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