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Relational Goods: Definition & Explanation

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Relational goods are intangible 'products' that come as the result of shared experiences. In this lesson, you'll learn more about relational goods and see a few examples of where they come into play.

In Common

Look at each pair of scenarios and see if you can spot the pattern:

Watching a soccer game at home or attending a game at the stadium.

Listening to music in your car or dancing to a favorite tune at a club.

Viewing a webinar online or attending a conference at a big resort.

What do these events have in common? Well, the first in each set are solo moments or experiences, while the second in each set represents a group experience, all of which have a special outcome known as relational goods.

What are Relational Goods?

Relational goods, unlike traditional goods, must be consumed jointly with other people in order for consumers to gain full enjoyment. Thus, the relational good is the feeling or emotion that happens as a result of something rather than the actual item itself. In that regard, relational goods are intangible, meaning they lack a physical presence.

Think about it this way: A stadium with only you in attendance wouldn't be a very enjoyable game experience, would it? You need the players, coaches, and other fans to complete the experience. When you have that, you experience the relational good of the energy, excitement, and enjoyment of a game day atmosphere.

Relational goods must be enjoyed in a joint setting.
relational, goods, marketing, experience, public

Relational goods contend that participation in group consumption of a product or service actually creates added benefits that can't be realized when an individual goes it alone. In practice, that means something like a parade needs both the floats and the spectators lining the street to be a rewarding and fulfilling experience.

As a result of collective participation, the value of the good grows. It's the raucous energy of a crowd when a touchdown is crowded or the collective laughter of an audience at a comedy show that makes the consumption what it is. It's the shared experience, approval, love, caring or camaraderie that can only be obtained when a good is enjoyed collectively.

Relational Goods Examples

Need more evidence of relational goods? Think about these scenarios:

1. A board game like Monopoly is essentially just a board until a family is sitting around the dining room table and engaging together in gameplay. Then, the idea of relational goods comes into play since the experience of playing the game is enhanced by shared laughter, interaction, and friendly competition.

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