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 other hand, product mix is the combination of all the product lines and categories a company offers to its customers. Let us talk in details about these two concepts of product marketing.
What is a product mix?
Product mix, also known as product assortment, refers to the total number of product lines a company offers to its customers. A product mix consists of product lines, which are associated items that consumers tend to use together or think of as similar products or services.
A product mix consists of numerous product lines that a company offers, and a company might have one or more product lines in its product mix. These product lines might be corresponding to one another or might be totally different from one another. The four dimensions to a company’s product mix include width, length, depth and consistency.
Small companies usually start out with a product mix limited in width, depth and length; and have a high level of consistency. However, over time, the company may want to differentiate products or acquire new ones to enter new markets. They may also add to their lines similar products that are of higher or lower quality to offer different choices and price points.
This is called stretching the product line. When you add higher quality, more expensive products, it’s called upward stretching. If you add lesser quality, lower priced items, it’s called downward stretching.
The width, or breadth, of a company’s product mix pertains to the number of product lines the company sells. The wider the width, the more the variety of goods and services provided by the company. For example, Samsung has a wide width of product lines like mobile phones, refrigerators, displays, Televisions, and more.
The length of the product mix reflects the total number of products or services in the product mix that the company is capable of providing, at the moment, to its customers.
Depth of a product mix pertains to the total number of variations for each product. Variations can include size, flavor and any other distinguishing characteristic.
The consistency of a company mix refers to how similar and closely the other product lines are related in use, production, distribution, or any other different ways.
Product Mix Strategies
- Bringing a change to an existing product strategy can help improve an existing product
- Eliminating low-performing lines or products can simplify product mix
- Implementing a depth strategy is useful if a company keeps and expands its current lines
- Identifying and communicating new uses for existing products without affecting the existing products or lines
- Increasing the number of product lines or product variations
- Adding a product with lower cost to its existing line of products
- Adding a product with a higher cost to an existing line to increase the demand for its low-cost products
Importance of a Product Mix
Understanding the concept of a product mix is essential to the success of your business for a number of important reasons.
- Your product mix is important in determining the image of your business and brand, as it helps you to maintain consistency in the eyes of your target market.
- Carrying the proper assortment of products provides you the best opportunity of meeting your customers’ needs. You’ll be able to get the necessary feedback from your customers, that will enable you to make adjustments as the needs of your customers change over time.
- Making use of a product-mix concept helps you stay focused on your core business. As your business grows, you may be tempted to add more product lines in an effort to reach more customers. By doing so, you could be in danger of adding products that appeal only to a fraction of your customer base while alienating your core customers.
- By focusing on providing the optimum product mix for your customers, you’ll be able to weed out slow sellers and make room for more appealing items. You won’t clutter your precious selling and storage space with goods that won’t sell, and you’ll continuously offer the fresh products your customers really want.
What Is a Product Line?
A product line is a group of related products all marketed under a single brand name that is sold by the same company. Companies sell multiple product lines under their various brand names, seeking to distinguish them from each other for better usability for consumers.
Product lines are created by companies as a marketing strategy to capture the sales of consumers who are already buying the brand. The operating principle is that consumers are more likely to respond positively to brands they know and love and will be willing to buy the new products based on their positive experiences with the brand in the past.
Different product lines are added under the same name of the brand to borrow the goodwill of the parent brand. The company also often goes for product line extensions where new products or items are added to the same product category under the same brand name, like new flavours, forms, colours, ingredients, etc.
The product mix is important to analyze since it can identify which market segments are experiencing what trends. Companies may thus re-brand or restructure underperforming and unprofitable products, while profitable lines may be tagged to include innovative or riskier new additions to that product family.
The main characteristics of a product line include:
- Product line consists of closely related product items. Difference is only found in terms of colour, size, shape, model, performance, weight, and capacity.
- The products also complement each other. A tire, a tube, and related products complement each other, for example.
- Product lines usually use the same distribution channel for the products. This means that similar outlets market the products.
- The products usually attract a similar group of customers. Hence, they are sold to a similar group of customers.
- The purpose of offering similar items in each of the product line may be to attract customers by offering more varieties, and to create a good image or reputation.
- Different items of a product line can be manufactured using same technology and/or inputs.
- Product items in each product line function in same manner. They need same technical skills to use them.
- They are sold to similar customer groups. They satisfy needs of the same groups.
- They have more or less same use or utility. They are used for the same purpose.
Examples of Product Line
- Amul offers a plethora of product lines that are closely related but still different. Its products include milk, flavored milk, chocolate, butter, curd, yogurt, ghee, etc.
- As a global brand, PepsiCo has many other sub-brands that cater to different product segments, such as Frito Lay, Quaker Oats, Gatorade, and Tropicana.
- Microsoft Corporation offers a series of products for different segments. It sells several well-recognized product lines, including MS Office, Windows, and Xbox.
Product Line vs Product Mix: Key Differences
- Product Line: A product line refers to a group of related products offered by a company that share common characteristics, target similar customer segments, and fulfill related needs.
- Product Mix: Product mix, also known as product assortment, is the entire range of products that a company offers to its customers. It encompasses all product lines within the company’s portfolio.
- Product Line: It is a subset of the product mix, focusing on a specific category or set of related products.
- Product Mix: It is the broader collection of all product lines a company offers, including various categories of products.
- Product Line: Focuses on meeting specific customer needs within a particular market segment.
- Product Mix: Aims to cater to a wide range of customer needs across different market segments.
- Product Line: Products within a product line are closely related and often share similar features, uses, or benefits.
- Product Mix: Products in the product mix may or may not be directly related to each other; they can span diverse categories.
- Product Line: Companies use product lines to capture a larger share of a specific market segment by offering variations of a product to meet different customer preferences.
- Product Mix: Companies use product mix to diversify their offerings and reduce risks by serving multiple markets or customer segments.
- Product Line: Different models of smartphones within a company’s smartphone product line.
- Product Mix: Smartphones, laptops, tablets, and accessories offered by the same company.
- Product Line: Variations within a product line might include different sizes, colors, features, or specifications of a particular product type.
- Product Mix: Variations are seen in terms of entirely different product categories.
- Product Line: Marketing efforts are concentrated on promoting the benefits of specific products within the line to a targeted audience.
- Product Mix: Marketing strategies aim to position the entire range of products as a diverse solution for various customer needs.
- Product Line: Each product line can have its own management and marketing strategies.
- Product Mix: Requires a holistic approach to manage the various product lines collectively.
- Product Line: Products within a product line often share the same brand name but may have model-specific identifiers.
- Product Mix: Different product lines can have distinct branding to differentiate them.
- Product Line: Customers perceive products within a product line as closely related and serving similar purposes.
- Product Mix: Customers perceive the product mix as a representation of the company’s versatility in meeting diverse needs.
- Product Line: Companies can expand by introducing new variations or models within an existing product line.
- Product Mix: Expansion involves adding entirely new product lines to cater to different markets or segments.