A product manager or brand manager is the person responsible for a particular product or brand. They are responsible both for the tangible and intangible elements. Where a product has a strong brand (e.g. Heinz tomato ketchup), the management of the brand is critical. The brand management role would entail developing a promise, making that promise and maintaining it. It means defining the brand, positioning the brand, and delivering the brand. In the case of product brands, the tangibles include the product itself, price, packaging, etc. While in case of service brands, the tangibles include the customers’ experience. The intangibles include emotional connections with the product / service.
The product or brand management role is an interesting and broad one, as you have responsibility for the whole marketing mix for a particular product. This includes:
- The product promotion and various media channels
- The product pricing
- The product packaging
- The products target market and its positioning
- The product development - in terms of innovative ideas of how to develop the product further.
- The products profitability
Obviously for large products (e.g. Heinz tomato ketchup) there will be a large product team. Other products may have a smaller team or just a single person. In business to business environments, the role is similar but there is less emphasis on the brand and more on the overall product development, working on the basis of customer feedback and research.
The role works across and with many other areas of the firms such as sales, product development/research, merchandising, operations etc. The product manager sits at the intersection between the business, the user and technology. His role is to optimize the product to achieve maximum returns for the business. He must understand the user needs and translate those into a buildable product.