Product Line: A product line is “a group of products that are closely related either because they satisfy a class of need, are used together, are sold to the same customer groups, are marketed through the same type of outlets or fall within given price ranges.” In modem times on producer or distributor or retailer deals in a single product. Usually, all firms are multiple product organizations. Sporting goods, groceries, and nine-store products are examples of product lines. In USA, the Unilever Limited produces a product line of household goods.
There are three variables to be considered in product-line decisions-width, length and its consistency. Width refers to the number of types of models in a given price-quality class. Length pertains to the range and density of the price-quality spectrum whether there are a few closely priced products, a few widely priced products, a number of products priced closely together, or a number of products spread over a broad range of prices. Consistency of the product-line refers to equality and parity in products as regards their use, production, distribution or any other feature.
An example will illustrate the point. Suppose, general electric company manufactures fans, bulbs, toasters and coolers. Hence, the width of product line is 4. Now the firm manufactures 3 types of fans, six types of bulbs, 3 kind of coolers, hence the average length of product line is 4. Though, the firm has 4 product-line but there are two similarities in common. All are electrically operated appliances and the firm sells them through common distribution network. This is consistency of product line.
Product-mix is “the composite of products offered for sale by a firm or business unit”. It is collection of products manufactured or distributed by a given company. Product- mix changes are frequently made for purposes of diversification.
They may involve the firm’s present plant and facilities including the marketing organization, or they may require the divestiture or acquisition of independent operations. Having a broad product-mix also spreads the risk of failure over a great number of product lines. This is an application of the, ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket‘. Philosophy that makes considerable sense when one views the rapidity with which a single product-line can become out-model or obsolescent and hence unprofitable.