What Is Product Mix Width?
Product mix refers to the full range of products a company makes. Some companies have thousands of different products in their mix; others have only a handful -- or even just one. Width is one of the ways marketers describe the extent of a company's product mix.
The products in a company's mix can usually be grouped into basic categories. A bakery, for example, might have four categories -- say, breads, rolls, pastries and cookies. The "width" of a company's mix describes how many product categories it has. In the textbook "Essentials of Marketing," the authors use the Campbell's Soup Co. as an example. Its mix is five categories wide: canned soups, microwave soups, gravies, meal kits and tomato juices. Another text, "Marketing Management," uses as an example Avon Products Inc. Avon's product mix consists of four categories: cosmetics, jewelry, fashions and household products. "Width" in a product mix is sometimes also referred to as breadth.
Marketers use the term "depth" to describe how many products a company offers within each category. In the bakery example discussed previously, a shop that offered two kinds of breads, two kinds of rolls, three kinds of pastries and only chocolate-chip cookies would have a fairly shallow product mix. But one that made 20 different kinds of breads, 10 rolls, 30 different pastries and a dozen varieties of cookies would have a very deep mix -- even though it had the same width as the other bakery.
Grouping products into categories can bring a range of benefits. By putting similar products "under one roof" within a company, management can standardize production and quality, create uniformity in packaging, ensure that the best manufacturing and marketing practices get used across the category, advertise the products together when possible and eliminate redundancies in distribution.
A wider product mix offers diversification, which can insulate a company from shifts in the market. If all you make is soup, for example, and soup goes out of fashion because people are too busy to prepare it, then you're in deep trouble. But if you also offer lines of condiments, ready-to-eat meals, snacks and so on, you're in better position, as people shifting away from soup may gravitate to one of your other product lines. At the same time, though, a product mix can get too wide. If consumers see you as making "everything," it can dilute the power of your brand.