A product 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 types of outlets or fall within given price ranges.” In modem times no producer or distributor or retailer deals in a single product. Usually, all firms multiple product organizations. Sporting goods, groceries and dine store products are some examples of product lines. The number and nature of products being produced by a firm can never continue to be the same. Many reasons compel the firms to make changes in their product line. To regulate and direct these changes in their product line according to well-conceived plans. This is known as product line strategy.
Thus, product line strategy involves a long-term plan for changes and adjustments in the product line of the firm in order to realize the objectives of the firm efficiently and economically.
Product Line Strategies in Marketing Management
A firm, whether in USA or anywhere in the world, may adopt the following alternative product strategies :
- (i) Product Innovation
- (ii) Product Development and Improvement
- (iii) Product Dropping
- (iv) Planned Obsolescence
- (v) Product Differentiation
(1) Product Innovation: The first strategy of product lift may be adding more and more new products to the existing product line. It helps the management in diversifying the risk and attracting more and more sales. Continuous product and market research is very necessary for it.
(2) Product Improvement: It is also necessary to modify or improve the existing product. It consists of the modification and improvement of the existing quality, size, form or design of the existing product so that it may look almost a new product. Competition compels the producers to bring out new models of their products. For example in sewing machines, electric fans, radios, TVs, watches, pressure cookers and typewriters, various new models have been presented by their manufacturers. The product improvement may be
- (a) An improvement in quality.
- (b) Feature improvement.
- (c) Style improvement.
- (d) Packing improvement
(3) Product Dropping: It is also necessary to review the product line from time to time and drop those products which have lost their market and become uneconomic.
(4) Planned Obsolescence: Some manufacturers adopt the policy of planned obsolescence also. They bring new models and drop the old ones to increase their sale and attract more customers. In the U.S.A. the motor car manufacturers are successfully adopting this policy. In our country also this strategy has been adopted by ready-made garments and house-hold goods producers. But it is not very practicable for a poor country like ours.
(5) Policy of Product Differentiation: Some manufacturers adopt this policy just to attract the customers to their products. They make minor changes in their brand, packing or style. They do not differ in efficiency or performance and sometimes the difference is completely imaginary. However, this policy creates manufacturers of cigarettes, soap, detergent power, and cosmetic goods adopt this policy and they are quite successful too in their attempts.
USA based research company Frost & Sullivan’s analysts follow a 10-step process to evaluate product line strategy and assess their fit with best practice criteria and Award candidates .