Features vs Benefits: What’s the Difference?

It’s important to think about both features and benefits when you’re creating a product or service. What’s the difference? Features are generally quantifiable or tangible. Usually, they relate to a specification of a product or service. Benefits are generally outcomes that a product or service can make possible. Features are measurable. Benefits are more emotional.

Another way to think about the difference between features and benefits is to look at the way Android and iPhone devices are marketed and advertised. In a typical Android phone commercial, they talk about the gigabytes of storage and the multimegapixel cameras on the front and back of the phone. The phone has a seven-inch screen that’s made from unbreakable glass. All of the “important specifications” are touted in the commercial. They do a wonderful job. It’s a well-produced, beautiful, compelling commercial, and it tells me exactly what I need to know about the features of the device.

Now think about an iPhone commercial. It’s essentially the same device, right? It has two cameras. It has a similar-sized screen and similar specs on processing power and memory. Yet iPhone commercials are profoundly different. Apple advertises the iPhone by showing you a video of something personal. Maybe a family reunion, a student graduating, or someone proposing to their significant other. They use video and content that connects with your emotions but is still related to the way you use your iPhone. Once the tears are rolling, they end with “Created on iPhone.”

You don’t care how many megapixels the camera has, or how big the phone is. You care about how the phone empowers you to capture moments that matter. Android is talking about the features; Apple is showing you the benefits. Big difference.

Analytical people tend to be moved to purchase by features that impress them or suit their specific needs. People who make decisions based more on emotions look to make purchases when they know the benefits they’ll get. 

That said, humans are weird and don’t fit neatly into “analytical” and “emotional” boxes. People buy things based on different stimuli and information, but they also make decisions based on different needs at different times. Someone who leans more analytical will make a decision based on emotion in certain conditions, and the opposite is also true. When you build your Value Proposition, you need to consider and include both features and benefits.

To give you an example, think about someone who doesn’t like to use spreadsheets for managing their clients because it’s not detailed enough. The gain they wanted was more repeat business because they checked in more often with past clients. In this case, a Pain Reliever might be software that automatically records and tracks up to one hundred stats about a client. The one hundred stats is a quantifiable feature. The benefit for the user is not having to remember all those details anymore.

An example of a Gain Creator might be customized follow-up templates that help clients feel remembered and special on their anniversary or birthday. The templates are a feature. The improved relationship with the client is a benefit.

Are you designing for both the features and the benefits of your product? If not, we can help.