For a company, mastering a range of products implies a strong strategic dimension. Well-designed and structured product ranges will bring consistency and relevance to the brand.
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What is a product line?
A range of products refers to a set of products or services of the same category offered to customers by a brand or by a company. It constitutes an offer which is generally declined in lines or families of products, themselves made up of different products.
Short vs long product line
A company may decide to offer a short product line or a long product line.
A short range is defined by a range comprising few products. Conversely, a long range will include a wide range of products.
Each of these options has advantages and disadvantages. Of course, the composition of the ranges must be adapted to the situation and the objectives of the company.
Short product range
With a short range of products, the brand decides to offer a few products to consumers. This strategy makes it possible to benefit from a better concentration of marketing actions. The company will also limit the costs of managing its stocks. Salesperson training will be facilitated and sales administration maximized.
However, a short product line has its share of drawbacks. The brand will be more vulnerable vis-à-vis its competitors and will be weakened by the obsolescence of its product range. In addition, concentrating your turnover on a few products can be risky.
Long product range
The brand, which has a long range of products, includes many products in its offer. Thus, it will have excellent coverage of market needs. It will be able to build its range around flagship products and fight against its competitors more easily.
There are also downsides to the long product line, such as a longer return on investment. For their part, sellers will also have more difficulty in mastering the different products. Finally, storage costs will be higher and the company is exposed to the risk of rupture.
How to define a range of products?
The 3 criteria of a product range
A range of products is defined according to different criteria:
- The wide range : it represents the number of product lines within a product range. A product line encompasses all types of products of the same nature. The products then respond to the same functions of use, but in different ways.
- The depth of range : it corresponds to the number of different models available in a product line. Each model has different options, sizes and prices.
- The length of range : it corresponds to the number of products identified within the range (depth x width). The range length therefore takes into account the total number of models and versions.
In marketing, the product line aims to meet the needs of consumers and the goals of the brand. The creation and management of product ranges help to strengthen the image and notoriety of the brand.
The brand must be able to present a variety of products or services aimed at several customer segments. It can, for example, on the one hand offer a range of services made up of a “premium” offer aimed at high-end customers and, on the other hand, offer an “access” offer at a more affordable price. aimed at mid-range or even entry-level customers.
It is also possible to envisage a variation of the range of products under different brands with a view to using different distribution channels.
Finally, the range can be divided into different product lines in order to reach consumers with different expectations.
Alignment with marketing strategy
The creation of a range is not only linked to the marketing strategy of the company, but also to its economic model and its objectives. The range strategy brings together all the decisions and actions taken in the field of the ranges offered by the company.
- The market conquest strategy is to launch a new product line to gain market share. With this in mind, a brand can, for example, launch a leading product, that is to say a product that is generally inexpensive and particularly highlighted in marketing campaigns which aims to attract consumers in terms of points. of sale.
- The profitability strategy involves the marketing of new products which will aim to generate more attractive margins. However, it is difficult for a brand to display excessively higher prices than its usual products, otherwise its sales volume will decrease. Only a few companies assuming a very high-end position in their sector of activity (Apple or Channel for example) can increase their prices without risking that their customers will turn their backs on them.
- The innovation and renewal strategy allows to limit the shortness of breath of the products. In a context where uses, needs and expectations are constantly evolving, innovation is crucial for any brand that intends to retain its customers.
- The customer loyalty strategy keeps in touch with consumers. If this strategy is at first glance expensive, it represents a long-lasting investment and very often more profitable than a process of acquiring new customers.
To adapt to market fluctuations and consumer demand, the company must evolve its product line. It can thus reassess the value of its range by adjusting the price of a product according to its target.
However, it must keep a balance between sales and margins. By relying on this practice, it will be able to get its customers to accept its new range.
When to expand a product line?
The term “range extension” designates a policy which consists of adding one or more new products to an existing range.
A brand can diversify its offer within a range in order to cover as precisely as possible all the needs of its customers, or to fight more effectively against the competition. It may also offer new products intended for other customer segments. It will then have to pay particular attention to defining its target according to the consumption parameters of its customers. Finally, the company can proceed to an extension to the top of the range if it wishes to improve its brand image by offering more prestigious products than those of its current range.
The task of expanding a range of products most often falls on the product manager. It is in fact this person who will be responsible for managing the new product throughout its life cycle, from its development until its withdrawal from the market.
Examples of product lines
HubSpot presents 3 concrete cases of product ranges: one brand in BtoB and three others in BtoC.
Example 1: The range of products of Orange Business Services
Orange Business Services is a commercial identity of the Orange group. It provides SMEs, mid-cap companies or large companies with digital solutions adapted to their needs.
Orange Business Services has several product lines such as “Cloud”, “Rich connectivity”, “Consulting” or “Cyber defense”. In the “Cloud” solution, professionals can choose from several types of offers: Flexible Computing Advanced, Domain name, Private cloud, Public cloud, Data protection. Orange Business Services therefore offers a fairly long range of products, covering the needs of different businesses.
Example 2: The products of the Coca-Cola range
Coca-Cola, with its formidable brand image, offers a long range of products. This brand has several product lines such as “Coca-Cola”, “Minute Maid”, “Nestea” or “Fanta”. In the “Coca-Cola” product line, the brand offers several subsets of products with some differences in their composition (light, sugar-free, life, original taste) and containers (can, glass or plastic bottle). With all its product lines, the brand addresses multiple targets, imposes its presence on the soda market and can easily face the competition.
Example 2: Products from the Signal range
The Signal brand offers 4 product ranges:
- Electric toothbrushes
Each of these ranges is available in several lines, or families, of products. Thus, the “toothbrush” category consists of 8 product lines:
- Ecological clean
- Integral 8
- Nature Elements
- Whiteness System
Each product line is itself made up of different models or references. In “classic toothbrushes”, consumers will find 8 references of classic toothbrushes.
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