Have you used a product and wondered what it would be like to use the variant of the product in question? Say you used a bar bathing soap and wondered how cool it would be to have a shower gel from the same producers. That's what product line extension entails. A lot of brands use product line extensions to keep their customer base and stay relevant in the competitive market.
What Is Product Line Extension?
Product line extension is the process of expanding an already existing product line. It is when a business that already produces a kind of product, makes some adjustments to that product or introduces a new variant. The new twist can be different product colors, different shapes, and sizes, flavors, and new types of packaging, or an addition of different ingredients to the product.
A line extension aims to drive sales to the brand and increase the reach of the already established product in the competitive market scene. It makes customers more excited and interested in the brand.
Types Of Product Line Extensions
There are generally two types of product line extensions:
- Horizontal Extensions
- Vertical Extensions
Horizontal Extensions: Involve changing certain factors such as color or adding ingredients or flavors to differentiate the products while still maintaining the same market price and quality. Some product line extension examples that use this method are fast food businesses and beverages.
Vertical Extensions: This involves the increase or decrease in the price and quality of a product to create a lesser quality or a much better or luxurious product. One such product line extension example is toiletries brands. Usually, they make new products with modified features, and sell at a higher price.
Benefits Of Product Line Extensions
Small, medium, or large brands use product line extensions for their numerous benefits some of which are:
1. Increase in Profit
2. More Options for the Customers
3. Consumer/Customer Satisfaction
4. Brand Awareness
Image taken from Strikingly Product
1. Increase in Profit
Line extensions increases profit. Let’s say you have a fast food business. Before now, you used to sell fish and chips alone. However, you notice that people like Pizza, so you start selling Pizza. Or you used to make Pizza before, but not the Pepperoni flavor. You start selling Pepperoni. Now, you can reach all three of your target market segments: people who love chips alone, those who love only Pizza, and those who will get both chips and Pizza. That way, you have gotten yourself some new customers and retained old ones. That's one low-risk and low-cost method of increasing sales, leading to an increase in profit. Companies often use line extensions to improve product demand and eliminate competitive market threats.
2. Alternatives for the Customers
Line extensions give customers more options and alternatives when shopping for that product. This increases a customer's chances of buying. The more comprehensive the range of options a customer can choose from, the likelier it is that you have what they want. Remember your Pizza and chips business? The customer who likes chips but prefers Pizza will be more inclined to buy from you instead of going to find a Pizza place.
3. Saves Cost
If your business has an already established product, you can save the cost of marketing new products using product line extensions. Rather than bringing a new product unknown to customers, your business can invest the same in the line extension of an already existing and well-known product. For instance, you can create a variant of your soap, like a shower gel, perhaps with a few enhancements. This would be cheaper than creating an entirely new soap with different ingredients from the existing one.
4. Brand Awareness
Image taken from Strikingly product
A line extension can make a brand more visible and set it apart from other brands. As a producer, customers want to know that you are constantly working to improve your product offering. This is especially when they see that you recognize customer feedback when making changes to the product. It gives the impression that you are listening to them and makes them develop an affinity for your brand. It also helps make the product reach a wider market audience, giving your brand a chance to take up more market share and increase revenue.
Although the benefits derived from a line extension are tremendous, there are also downsides to a line extension. Now, let's take a look at these downsides.
Disadvantages Of Product Line Extensions
1. When a company fails to carry out detailed and accurate research about the market and the ever-changing taste of the customers, the product line extension strategy can backfire. It may lead to a loss of investments. For example, if you move from a fairly-liked product variant to a not-so-liked one, you will find it difficult to sell. It is always best to find out what the market wants. One way to ascertain this is through product testing. Before you pump a product into the market, carry out in-depth research and then test the product with your market. Send a few minimum viable products into the market to see how your customers respond to them. The feedback should inform your next move.
2. Apart from loss of investment, poorly executed product line extensions can affect your brand image. If the product line extension does not meet the target market's expectations, it affects the brand's loyalty and the original product's value.
3. Sometimes, the uniqueness and exclusive appeal of the original product are affected. Too many alternatives may demystify your product for your customer. If they can already get equally good products from you, why do they have to buy a new one for a different price?
4. The market is a competitive scene. Where a competitor's product is perceived to be better in terms of attributes and features as compared to your brand's, it can affect sales. Thus, when you create a new product, you must be careful that you're not just giving your customers poor-quality stuff. Give them the best. If you cannot afford the best, give them the best you can and actively work towards improving.
Product Line Extensions & Brand Extensions
Most people mistake product line extensions with brand extensions.
A brand line extension is when a company introduces a new item in a completely different product segment. It allows a company to extend its brand with recognition from its existing products. A brand extension involves a company's expansion into new product categories where it’s less recognized. Brand extensions focus more on the brand. An example of a bra Poorlyke Coca-Cola producing alcoholic drinks.
A line extension is apart from investment loss when a company incorporates a variety or varieties of an existing product to target a new customer audience. Line extensions focus more on the product. Here, the main product remains the same, but the variant is targeted at a specific consumer. A line extension example is Coca-Cola producing different flavors of the Coca-Cola drink.
Examples of Product Line Extensions
We will look at two case studies in this section. Pay attention to each product line extension example to see how they did theirs.
Over the years, Coca-Cola has launched new versions of its product ranging from new flavors to different sizes. The main aim is to offer something different and innovative for customers with an edge in taste and flavor. One of the brand's most famous product line extensions is Diet Coke, with its target audience being a growing weight and calorie-conscious market.
The most renowned and commonly used contraception brand, is always big on product line extension strategy. It launches new brands of condoms in various flavors and types to keep the customers interested and excited while waiting in anticipation for the new product.
Things to Consider Before Creating a Product Line Extension
Product Line extensions have a myriad of benefits that have been discussed. The following are things to consider before launching a product line extension.
1. The Brand's Vision and Mission
2. Audience Feedback
3. Testing New Product Lines
4. Company's Finance and Resources
5. Competitive Market Survey/Study
6. Brand's Growth
7. Product Exclusivity
The Brand's Vision and Mission
A product line extension must align with your company's vision and mission. A hair product company that seeks to promote inclusiveness can create a special shampoo for African hair. A food business can include vegan-friendly options in its menu. Here are some questions to ask when considering the company vision and mission with your new line extension idea.
- Destination: Where are we going as an organization? In other words, what's our vision? How does this product line extension help us achieve that?
- Mission: What do we stand for as an organization? What are our action points? How does this product line extension enhance those?
The role of the audience or customers in the success of any company can not be overemphasized. Feedback from your customers should influence your decisions before delving into product line extensions.
A brand should ask customers if they're happy with the current product and if there's a need for changes or alterations in the product. What features make them interested and attracted to and finally, purchase the product? This feedback can be gotten through simple surveys or suggestions. The data collection helps decide the next metrics to apply in product redesign.
Testing New Product Lines
Testing new product lines in small quantities helps determine the success of the brand's line extension. A little investment in learning and knowing about your audience and testing new products can help a company avoid over-investing in a product that won’t sell.
Company's Finance And Resources
Before launching a product line extension, a company needs to look at its finances, available resources, and the required expertise. Although it is low-risk, it is advisable to check if you have more than enough funds for the strategizing, ideation, manufacturing, execution, and advertisement of a product line extension.
Image taken from Strikingly User
Competitive Market Survey/Study
A brand needs to conduct thorough competitive market research, examining the competition's similar products and their features. It is always advisable to carry out a well-detailed and informed market survey before indulging in a product line extension. It will make your online marketing efforts more effective.
Before launching a line extension, a company or brand needs to look at its growth and success in the market. A successful brand is more likely to drive sales to the new line extension than a less-known brand. It is important to consider how your current product is fairing in the market in terms of sales, profit, return on investment (ROI), market shares, and much more.
A product line extension need not tamper with the product's exclusivity. Customers are more attracted to a product with unique and rare features. It is a bad idea and not advisable to venture into the product line extension just to stay relevant in the market if your original product is already unique.
Strikingly Website Tools and Features that Enhance Product Line Extensions
Website building is important for any serious online business. A Strikingly business or eCommerce website comes with some functions that you will find very useful.
1. The Contact Form: with a contact form, your customers can reach you and give you valuable feedback about what they need for your product.
2. Social Media: A Strikingly website allows you to integrate your social media, such as Instagram and Facebook business. With your social media outlets, you can pre-inform your customers about the new product coming. This will make marketing easier.
3. A blog: a blog help's your customers to know what to expect from you, and decide whether they want it or not.
A product line extension can transform your business. You just have to ensure you do it right. If you are lost on how to go about, study the bigger businesses. Look at their product line extension examples and methods. Better still, study a big player in your industry or a similar one. This will give you a clearer perspective on how to go about yours.