Over time, every company wants to expand its product range. Some companies try to develop new products to its portfolio, while others develop the extension or remake of the existing products. A group of related products constitutes a product line, and the combination of different product lines makes the product mix, which is owned by the parent brand.
For example, PepsiCo has hundreds of foods, snacks, and beverage brands. Its product category includes Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Marinda, 7Up, Tropicana, Aquafina, Quaker, Lay’s, Ruffles, Fritos, Cheetos, and many more.
All these brands are controlled and owned by PepsiCo, available in more than 200 countries and territories.
What is A Product Line?
According to Philip Kotler, a product line can be defined as “a group of products that are closely related because they function in a similar manner, and sold to the same customer groups, are marketed through these same types of outlets, fall within given price range.”
In the above definition, Philip Kotler emphasizes a few points, which I want to discuss below:
Closely Related Products. In any product line, the products are closely related. For example, Pepsi has a Beverages product category which includes Pepsi, Dew, Aquafina, Brisk, and many more. These products are related and target a specific group of people and preferences.
Same Customer Groups. Every product category target the same customer group. For instance, 7 UP, Pepsi, Marinda, Mountain Dew target young people, while Gatorade is a PepsiCo brand that targets athletes. Similarly, Quaker Oat is another Pepsi brand that focuses on health-conscious people.
According to the Forbes magazine, the PepsiCo. target market is teenagers and young adults. Though Pepsi contends it’s few brands like Quaker, Gatorade, Aquafina, and Diet drinks to appeal to all age groups, its main focus is on young people.
Managing Product Lines
If a company wants to track the sales of products in each product line or the whole product mix, it is crucial to use the tools to make the process more efficient. Every product line has to achieve specific goals, and it is important to track sales and inventory for each product line and look for the alternation in the product line strategy if needed.
Product line Decisions
The following types of product line decisions are related to the product line strategies that are planned activities of adding and deleting a particular product from the line.
Line Stretching Decision. Product line stretching means to lengthen the current product line. It has three dimensions downward, upward, and both-ways.
- Downward Stretching means adding a new product to the current line, but at a lesser price, for example, Mercedes in a joint venture with Swatch, introduced a $10,000 Smart Micro Compact Car.
- Upward Stretching means adding new products but at higher prices. Companies stretch upward because they want prestige, growth rate, or high-profit margins. For instance, General Electric successfully added its current Monogram premium kitchen appliance to target the higher-end consumer.
- Two-way Stretching means adding new products in both directions. Marriot did this significantly and started the Renaissance Hotel target high-end consumer and Town suites to cater to the needs of lower-end consumers.
Line Filling Decisions means adding new products to the same product range to use excess capacity, increase customer base, extra profit, and keep competitors away. Sony added waterproof and solar-powered Walkman to its current Walkman line.
Line Pruning Decision means to reduce the depth of a product line by removing unprofitable products from the existing lines. Crystal Pepsi launched in the market and discontinued after some time.
Product Line Examples
Here are a few examples of product lines from some of the reputable companies.
Product Line of PepsiCo.
PepsiCo is a multinational company that offers hundreds of products in more than 200 countries. Following are some of the most popular product lines of PepsiCo.
- Diet Pepsi
- Mountain Dew
- Diet Mountain Dew
- 7 Up
- Starbucks RTD Beverages
- Sierra Mist
Nike Product Lines
Nike Inc., is an American Multinational Company that design, manufacture and market and sales footwears, apparel, and accessories.
According to the company’s website, it has divided into three main categories, i.e., Men, Women, and Kids. The following are some of the Nike products Lines.
- Shoes. Lifestyle, Running, Basketball, Jordan, Training & Gym, Soccer, Golf, Tennis, Slides & Sandals, Skateboarding, Football, and Track and Field.
- Clothing. Tops & T-shirts, Shorts, Hoodies & Sweatshirts, Pants, Pants and leggings, Sports Bras, Jackets & Vests, Swimmers, Plus Size, Skirts & Dresses, Yoga, Socks & Underwear, Big & Tall and Polos.
- Kids. The Nike Kids category is based on age and sizes. Boys and Girls Shoes, Boys and Girls Clothing
Product Line Vs. Product Mix
Sometimes people confused between product line and product mix that they are the same. But these terms are slightly different.
A product line offers unique and related products and brands in the market. These products have similar functions and also target a defined group of customers.
On the contrary, the product mix is the combination of all the product lines and categories a company offers to its customers.
Keep in mind that no businesses can retain customers for longer with one product. That is why product managers are always under pressure to add relevant products to the line.
So, companies develop product lines to attract new customers and, more importantly, retain the existing ones. Loyal and satisfied customers will always prefer your current brand over your competitors and tend to buy newly launched products based on their positive experience.
Furthermore, adding a new product to the line will have the luxury to share the goodwill, brand name, and customer base of the parent brand.