I am writing a technical specification for a product portfolio containing a series of related products, differentiated by quality, well, sort of. I am looking for a synonym of the term quality which best describes what I mean.

In everyday talk people tend to assign the term quality to how good a product is. For instance, an expensive high-end restaurant is of a higher quality than a fast-food place.

But formally in business, engineering and manufacturing, quality has a different meaning: it refers to the correspondence between the agreed and the delivered product. It's kind of related to the difference between the specifications (expectations) and the reality.

In this sense, a better restaurant does not necessarily have a higher quality. In fact, a fast-food could have a higher quality if it meets the expectations of a client better.

I am a bit confused, especially not being an English native speaker. How can I refer to as a better product? As much as quality is also an appropriate term here, I would like to avoid it because it's quite a technical and formal document conforming to the ISO 9000 terminology.

Back to my series of products, saying that one product has lower quality would not be correct. All products have high quality, but one is better than the other. What is the collective term for this?

An additional example: the iPad Air is a better product than the iPad 2 (screen, storage, etc.). But it is not of higher quality.

  • Some thoughts... Do you mean products differentiated by abilities ("features") and possibly by accuracies/ tolerances/ sensitivities/ strengths etc? Are you drawing attention to the relative designed/ build-/ operational qualities? Are you thinking of low-end (eg "affordable"/ "introductory") and high-end ("feature-rich"/ "complete") products?
    – crw
    Feb 13, 2014 at 15:26
  • Yes, everything that you have listed. Can I refer it then to as "operational quality" or "design quality"?
    – 528
    Feb 14, 2014 at 9:17

2 Answers 2


I'd describe a "portfolio of related products" as a range, family or series (eg "product family" or "family of products") to signify that they share some characteristics while having comparative differences.

"Operational-" or "design quality" makes sense but sounds quite general to me. Perhaps operational- or design characteristics (or simply characteristics) will fit. Continuing in this vein, perhaps design grades or product tiers to signify levels or strata.

For something specific, ask yourself what the high-end products do well or what properties they exhibit; then perhaps use a "range of ..." construct to indicate a scale of quality. For example, "a range of measuring instruments of varying precisions/uses/applications" or "measuring instruments in a range of precisions".


You are right, according to ISO 9000, the term quality is clearly defined as

degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfils requirements

Thus, your products have a high quality if they fulfil the respective requirements.

The term grade is used to describe different product categories for different requirements. According to ISO 9000, the term grade is defined as

category or rank given to different quality requirements for products, processes or systems having the same functional use

For example: the class of an airline ticket (first, business or economy) or the category of a hotel


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