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Product Range June 2, 2009

Posted by mariobarreiro in Marketing.
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Organisations usually offer more than one product to the market. To understand any product fully, it is essential to be aware of its position within the company´s portfolio. There are three main concepts to explain how product range works out: product mix, product line and product item (Brassington & Pettitt, 2003: 272-274).

Argos is a UK retailer that sells general merchandise and products for the home and it will be used as an example for this piece of essay (http://www.argos.co.uk/).

 

Product Mix

The product mix is the sum of all the products offered by a company. In the case of Argos, the product mix reaches to 20,000.

 

Product Line

A product line is a group of products that are closely related to each other. The relation can be production orientated, when the company focuses on production requirements, or market orientated, where products satisfy similar needs to customers. Argos has chosen the last one.

Argos manages 13 different categories (Kitchen & Laundry, Home & Furniture, Garden & DIY, etc.). Compared with the number of products they sell, there is an average of 1,500 products per category. It does not make easy enough the managing of the product range. Therefore, each category has different sub-categories (within Kitchen & Laundry lies Fridges and freezers, Kitchenware, Kettles, etc.) which are the product lines in this example, making a total of 223 product lines in Argos.

The total number of product lines defines the product mix width. From the width of the product mix it can be inferred the interest of the company in different markets. In this case the width is wide. Argos handles a huge amount of product lines, so it is competing in many different markets.

 

Product Item

A product line consists of a number of product items. They are individual products or brands with their own features, benefits or prices. Taking the product line Fridges and freezers, there are 20 different brands creating therefore 20 product items.

The total number of items within the product line completes the product line length.

The concept product line depth is defined by the number of different variants of each item. Following with the example of fridges and freezers, there are a total of 368 products, giving an average of 18 variations per item.

While the product mix width shows the market that the company is competing on, the product line depth displays the market coverage strategy, were Argos is trying to fulfil the requirements of each customer.

Argos is a company with a wide product mix and a deep product line. There are companies that focus whether on width or depth. For instance, a narrow but deep company is Sportsshoes Unlimited (http://www.sportsshoes.com). It is a specialist on trainers and sport shoes with over 20,000 products in the catalogue. On the other hand, the grocery company Lidl (http://www.lidl.co.uk), covers most of the comestibles required by households but with only one article by product item.

 

Books:

  • F. Brassington and S.Pettitt. 2000. Principles of Marketing. 2nd ed. Prentice Hall
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