A product line is a similar group of products that are sold by the company under the same brand. A company may sell multiple products under one product line, and it can also have multiple product lines under its brand. Determining whether to create, expand or retire product lines is part of the overall product line strategy.
Creating and Expanding Product Lines
Having multiple products under a product line makes them easier to market to consumers. Instead of marketing each individual product, businesses can market all the products under a product line to their target market. Generally, the target market for a product line has a need for multiple products under that umbrella. The entire product line is created with the demographic, geographic, psychographic and behavioral characteristics of the target market in mind.
The consumers trust the product line brand, and once they have tried a few products, they may be inclined to try additional products under that product line brand. If consumers have a positive experience with one item, they will be more likely to try other items based on their previous positive experience. This helps businesses to lower the cost of each customer acquisition and build brand and consumer loyalty.
As part of its product line strategy, a business may decide to add additional products to a product line based on consumer needs. For example, if a zero-waste products store has a product line of reusable containers for kitchen items, it may expand that product line by adding reusable cloth bags to hold produce. The business can also add additional product lines under its brand, such as adding bath and body product refills that consumers can purchase using their own reusable containers.
Shifting or Retiring the Brand Extension
Sometimes, a business may need to pivot its product line strategy based on external events. Changes in the market, material supply issues or competitive businesses can alter the trajectory of the project line. As a result, the business may need to make changes to the products within the product line or to an entire product line.
For example, if a local cafe sells sandwiches, pizza and salads, it may need to make changes to its pizza product line when a popular pizza chain opens across the street. If customers no longer want to buy the cafe's pizza, its inventory may spoil, and it may lose profitability. As a result, it might be necessary for the cafe to get rid of its pizza product line and focus on the sandwiches and salads.
Customer needs or sentiment may also cause businesses to reevaluate their product line strategy. If customers have had poor experiences with specific products under one product line, they may hesitate to try additional products under that line. Similarly, if the target market’s needs have changed or they are no longer being met by the product line, they may stop purchasing from the company. For example, a company that sells baby food may lose customers when their kids grow older and no longer require the baby food.
Managing Product Lines With Intelligent Tools
In order to track the sales of the items within each product line and of the product line as a whole, it’s important to use the right tools to make the task more efficient. Tracking sales and inventory by product line can help businesses to determine if they are meeting their goals for each product line and see where they may need to alter their strategy.
When developing the products themselves, tools to manage the production tasks can alleviate obstacles and help meet deadlines. Customer feedback tools can help businesses to gather and analyze customer data. Some popular product management tools include:
- Inventory: InFlow, Zoho Inventory, Retail Inventory, Fishbowl
- Product development: Axure, Jira, ProductPlan, Trello
- Customer feedback: SurveyMonkey, Aha!, Typeform
- Investopedia: Product Line
- Process.st: The Straightforward Guide to Product Strategy (With Templates)
- ProductPlan: Product Management Tools: What Should Your Product Stack Include?
- Aha!: What Tools Do Product Managers Use?
- Small Business Trends: 25 Tools That Help with Inventory Management for Small Business
Anam Ahmed is a Toronto-based writer and editor with over a decade of experience helping small businesses and entrepreneurs reach new heights. She has experience ghostwriting and editing business books, especially those in the "For Dummies" series, in addition to writing and editing web content for the brand. Anam works as a marketing strategist and copywriter, collaborating with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, lifestyle bloggers to professional athletes. As a small business owner herself, she is well-versed in what it takes to run and market a small business. Anam earned an M.A. from the University of Toronto and a B.A.H. from Queen's University. Learn more at www.anamahmed.ca.