Background Note | HBS Case Collection | March 1987 (Revised April 1987)

Specialties vs. Commodities: The Battle for Profit Margins

by Benson P. Shapiro


Explains the differences between commodities and specialties and defines four different types of specialty products. The analysis is customer oriented. Special attention is given to the distinctions between functions (product- ) and relationship (vendor-oriented) specialties and to the degradation of those specialty markets to commodities.

Keywords: Goods and Commodities;


Shapiro, Benson P. "Specialties vs. Commodities: The Battle for Profit Margins." Harvard Business School Background Note 587-120, March 1987. (Revised April 1987.)