What is a Consumer Product?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Consumer products are any type of tangible goods that are intended for use by individuals or families, and not for the use of businesses. Within this broad definition, there is sometimes room for disagreement on what constitutes this type of product. To this end, many nations take steps to define what does and does not qualify, and make use of that definition to evaluate the status of the economy, and create applicable tax structures.

A car is a tangible consumer product.
A car is a tangible consumer product.

While there is some variance from one country to another in just how a good or service is classified as a consumer product, there are a few essentials that apply in most situations. First, any item that is specifically manufactured for use by an individual and not by a business will fall into this category. A good example would be a pair of jeans, something that obviously is intended for use by an individual.

Another common provision that applies to the identification of a good or service as a consumer good has to do with whether or not it is intended for consumption by an individual, and not used as a resource within a company setting. Food is often cited as an example, since food is consumed by an individual at home, at social events, and in settings such as school cafeterias. The idea is that this type of consumer product provides both satisfaction and utility to the individual, but does not directly contribute to the operation of a business.

In some countries, steps are taken to prepare exhaustive lists of items that are not considered consumer products. These more detailed listings do make it much easier to identify what is recognized as a true consumer product, at least in terms of classifying purchases for possible use as tax deductions.

Even when the classification of products as consumer or commercial products is extensive, there is always the chance that a particular good or service will not be specifically mentioned. When this is the case, there is often some difference of opinion as to whether the item can properly be considered a consumer product. This situation is most likely to arise when a given product can be used by a business as easily as in the home. For this reason, some manufacturers take great care to advertise these somewhat ambiguous products as being primarily designed for use at home, or in a working environment.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


Food contributes to the operation of business every day.

The perfect example is the restaurant business. Without food being purchased by the restaurant owners and accounted for as a major business expense, no food would ever be prepared and served to customers.

Many hotels also prepare food as part of their business by offering room service to guests.

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