Marketing Strategies for Unsought Products

Consumers buy products when they know they will fulfill a need. But some products are not ‘sought after’ either because the consumer is not aware of their usefulness or they don’t want to actively buy them. These are called unsought products, and marketing them calls for different strategies.

Jess Edwards

Jess Edwards

Customer Marketing Manager

Mike Walker photoTechnical Advisor: Mike Walker, VP of Operations (Bio)


The unsought product definition is any product that people don’t regularly seek to buy. There could be three types:

1)      New product – A new unsought product, or an innovation that people aren’t aware of or used to yet.

2)      Unpleasant – A product that is associated with an unpleasant feeling.

3)      Unnecessary – A product that seems unnecessary at present.

These unsought products require marketers to adopt aggressive marketing and sales strategies. If the customer is not aware of the product and its needs, the marketing strategy would be to showcase how the product could be useful. On the other hand, an unpleasant product needs to be cleverly marketed using the fear appeal. marketing can also propel the customer to buy a product that they might need in the future.

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This article explores the different marketing strategies for unsought goods. It also explains, using examples, how companies have successfully created a demand for unsought goods.

What are unsought products?

To understand what is an unsought product, it is important to first understand the main product categories.

There are mainly four product categories: convenience products, shopping products, specialty products, and unsought goods.

1)     Convenience products

These are the products that consumers frequently buy. For example, grocery items and personal use items are considered convenience products.

2)     Shopping products

Shopping products are those that require the customer to spend time and effort researching before buying. The quality of the product, its style, and functionality are some factors that consumers consider before making a purchase. Some examples of shopping products would be refrigerators, clothes, accessories, and cars.

3)     Specialty products

Unique products are called specialty products. Luxury products like branded items come under this category.

4)     Unsought products

Marketers including Philip Kotler define unsought goods as those that consumers do not either know about or know but do not consider buying.  Three kinds of products come under the definition of unsought products:

·         New products

Products that are new in the market come under the unsought product category. When smartphones first became available to users, they were considered unsought goods. A great deal of marketing resulted in smartphones being classified as specialty and shopping products.

·         Unpleasant products

Products that are associated with unpleasant thoughts are also categorized under unsought items. Examples are life insurance, accident insurance, and cemetery plots.

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·         Unnecessary products 

Products that don’t provide any immediate benefit to the consumer are also unsought. In other words, products like fire alarms or earthquake-proof bunker beds are only useful to the consumer if a disaster strikes.

Examples of unsought products

In the previous section, we defined the types of unsought products. The definition is not enough to understand a complex marketing concept like unsought products. In an attempt to better explain the concept, this section will cover unsought product examples:

Life insurance

Life insurance is a classic example of an unsought product associated with the unpleasant thought of death. Insurance companies usually go for direct selling and a fear appeal to turn insurance policies into sought products.

Funeral services

Like life insurance, people do not typically think about planning their funeral or booking a place in a cemetery until they are suffering from a health condition.

Fire extinguishers

While fire extinguishers are important safety tools, they are mostly sought after for commercial purposes or after a house has been struck by a fire.

New products

A new product or service is also an example of an unsought good. Drones were once new on the market and unsought by the common user. However, over time, as consumers learned about the uses of drones, it became a shopping product. Marketers of new products have to use promotional strategies to tackle the consumer’s lack of awareness and convert the unsought product into a sought-after one.

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Marketing unsought products

When it comes to marketing unsought items, it is important to first assess the challenges that make these goods unsought.

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Challenges of marketing unsought products

Three main challenges come up when selling unsought items:

·         Lack of motivation

Products that don’t provide an immediate benefit to the consumer don’t sell because of a lack of motivation. The lack of motivation means that consumers don’t actively plan on buying this product. So, marketers have to build consumer interest by educating them on how it can benefit them and why investing in it today is important for tomorrow.

·         Lack of awareness

A lack of awareness challenge usually comes up when a new product is launched in a market, or an existing product is launched in a new market.

·         Hesitant buyers

If the product is tied to a negative thought, consumers might be hesitant to buy it. Insurance companies usually face this challenge and deal with it using direct marketing strategies.

Strategies for marketing an unsought product

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Unsought product marketing requires clever strategies. Here are some common strategies that marketers use for marketing unsought goods:

·         Product awareness

Motivating customers to buy new products requires product awareness. Marketers can go for traditional marketing channels like print and TV commercials to create awareness. But in this day and age, digital marketing is a great tool to create awareness about the product and propagate its uses and benefits to create demand.

·         Product Demonstration

Demonstrating how a product is useful is also another great marketing strategy for products that have an unaware audience. In-store demonstrations and tastings (in case of new food products) are used to sell unsought items. In this era, digital influencers also play an important role in product demonstrations to an unaware or uninterested audience.

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·         Direct Selling

Marketers of products that might be negatively perceived by some benefit from direct sales techniques. When the customer receives information directly from salespersons, they can be convinced to purchase these products. However, direct selling requires a lot of time and effort but bears fruit if done effectively. Insurance companies usually rely on direct selling to generate demand and sales.

·         Targeted Marketing

Another great marketing strategy to sell unsought goods is targeted marketing. For instance, people who live in cities where earthquakes are common could be targeted to buy earthquake bunk beds.

How to market unsought products

Cleverly crafted marketing strategies can be used to create demand and sell unsought items. However, not all strategies work for all kinds of products that are tougher to sell. Some products are only unsought because they are new in the market and customers are not aware of how useful they could be to them. On the other hand, if a product is not deemed necessary by its target. audience, direct selling, or aggressive marketing techniques could lead them to buy unsought goods.

So, assessing what is preventing the product from becoming sought-after is the first step to crafting a marketing strategy.

Pimberly has a product information management (PIM) system that helps you understand the challenges you face and craft marketing strategies that truly benefit your organization.