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Eight dimensions of quality

In the video, we build on the different viewpoints of quality by introducing you to the eight dimensions of quality.
Garvin’s eight dimensions theory was first introduced in 1988 by David A Garvin, who created the framework as a way of categorising quality characteristics within strategic analysis. These eight
dimensions areare: performance, features, reliability, conformance, durability, serviceability, aesthetics and perceived quality. Garvin said a product or service can rank high on one dimension of quality and low on another. Indeed, an improvement in one may be achieved only at the expense of another. It is precisely this interplay that makes strategic quality management possible. The challenge to managers is to compete on selected dimensions. We will now look to define each of the dimensions, using the example of an everyday object, the mobile phone.
Performance: The first of the products primary operating characteristics and how it efficiently performs to achieve its intended purpose. For the example of a mobile phone, this would be the speed in which it opens applications or how well it can handle multiple apps open at the same time.
Features: Features are often looked at as a secondary aspect of performance. The term bells and whistles is used to describe the features of a mobile phone and it is important that these involve measurable and objective attributes. Common features
found among Smart phones are: facial or fingerprint recognition, the type of lens used for the camera, the type of battery it uses or the operating system.
Reliability: This dimension looks at the probability of product malfunctioning within a stated time period. It is expected for the products to perform consistently during this time. In the instance of a mobile phone, this can be measured by the frequency of malfunctions. This becomes especially important when the cost of fixing these issues rises.
Conformance: Conformance is how a particular product’s design meets a pre-defined standard. In our example, the mobile phone’s battery life must conform to the length stated in its manual.
Durability: The durability is defined as the amount of use a produce can have before it shows signs of deterioration or has to be replaced. Typically, in the case of mobile phones, durability is measured by the life of the battery, as in, when it fails to charge or hold charge correctly.
Serviceability: Ease, cost and speed of a product’s repair all fall under the dimension of serviceability. A quick customer service for phone repair is often something consumers look for when purchasing a mobile phone.
Aesthetics: This looks at how a product feels, looks and sounds, among others. This is based on the opinion of the individual and is frequently a talking point between mobile phone users. Aesthetical details such as overall size of the phone, screen size, handset colour and weight are all common considerations. Perceived
Quality: This looks at how a customer perceives the quality of an item, depending on the way a brand markets it. This is hugely affected by the advertisement, brand image and overall reputation of the company. Top rank mobile phone companies such as Samsung and Apple have a reputation of quality in the mobile phone market which consumers are aware of, even before purchase. Some smaller manufacturers may suffer with this, as they cannot afford to promote their product in this dominated industry. Now we have looked at and discussed the eight dimensions of quality, you should be confident in using this framework to look at the prospects a business has to individualise itself from rival companies.

In the video, we build on the different viewpoints of quality by introducing you to the eight dimensions of quality – a theory devised by David Garvin (1987).

As the video explains, Garvin’s theory provides a framework for categorising quality characteristics within strategic analysis. These eight dimensions are:

  • Performance
  • Features
  • Reliability
  • Conformance
  • Durability
  • Serviceability
  • Aesthetics
  • Perceived

Your task

Using the same product from the previous tasks, give an example for each quality dimension – or consider and discuss which has better value or status among the eight dimensions, and why?


Garvin, D. (1987). Competing on the eight dimensions of quality. Harvard Business Review, 65(6), 101.

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