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With product life cycles becoming shorter and shorter the actual products themselves tend to quickly resemble those of other companies  As a consequence these products are often viewed as commodities in which price is the primary determinant in deciding which one to buy A good example of this is the personal computer (PC) industry Today the differences in the products offered among the different PC manufacturers are relatively insignificant so price is the prime selection criterion  To obtain an advantage in such a competitive environment  firms are now providing’ “value-added” service  This is true for firms that provide goods and services  The reason simple As Sandra Vanderbilt puts it The market power is in the service  because the value is in the results Specific examples of how manufacturers are using en ices as a competitive advantage are presented later in this chapter  Within the service sector  Putnam Investments in Boston offers a wide range of mutual funds through independent brokers To obtain a competitive advantage over other mutual fund companies Putnam now provides brochures and prospectuses of their mutual fund to brokers within 24 hours of request.

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