Moments of crisis such as pandemics, hyperinflation, or natural disasters cause societies, governments, companies, and individuals to reflect on their priorities and essential needs. However, there is no concept or theory that links human needs to the consumption of goods and services. With this in mind, we introduce the product essentiality concept and a method to measure the essentiality level of a group of products. We used a survey questionnaire and quantitative methodology to illustrate the concept and propose that it can be reasonably approximated by a measure of perceived essentiality. Our analysis examined the influence of location, gender, and family income on the perceived essentiality of general goods and services. For this, a sample of Business and Management students in Brazil and the UK classified 81 products as ‘essential’ or ‘superfluous’. Our findings and analyses show that applying the essentiality concept and its measurement can be consistent and useful for reflecting on what is essential and what is not. This study provides preliminary insights on product portfolio essentiality measurements suggesting it is significantly affected by location rather than gender and income. The results can help organisations to rethink their product portfolios, designs, and assist sustainable development policies.
Bibliographical note© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
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