What Is a Product Family?

A product family is a group of related goods produced by the same company under the same brand. A company may create a product family to leverage the loyalty of existing customers toward its original brand.

The product family supplies an array of products that are similar but meet slightly different needs or tastes, potentially attracting more customers. Customers can rely on their positive previous experiences with a brand when choosing a new product.

Understanding a Product Family

The individual products in a product family are often quite similar. Their composition, packaging, and pricing may be nearly but not quite identical. That reassures consumers that they are getting a product just like one that they already know, use, and trust, but with a slightly different purpose.

Key Takeaways

  • A product family is a collection of complementary products marketed under the same brand name.
  • A product family leverages the customer trust and loyalty earned for the original brand.
  • Creating a product family can be a cost-efficient way for a business to expand its array of offerings.

For example, the classic Oreo cookie has morphed into a whole product family. There are Oreos with less filling and more cookie, more filling and less cookie, mint-flavored filling and vanilla cookies. But every one of those variations is recognizably an Oreo, and the packaging makes that clear to shoppers.

For the company, a product line is a uniquely cost-efficient endeavor. Having successfully established a brand, they have the manufacturing and distribution system in place, the shelf space reserved, the marketing strategy completed, and a loyal customer base already out there. It's not a product rollout—it's a tweak.

Product Family Versus Product Bundle

A product family is a collection of related products sold individually. A product bundle is a number of products packaged together at a special promotional price.

Consumers are reassured that they are buying a product just like one they already know, use, and trust, for a slightly different purpose.

For instance, the variety of coffees offered at a cafe comprise its product family. That family consists of flat white, cappuccino, short black, and lattes. The cafe may also offer a product bundle, packaging a juice, pastry, and sandwich together.

Example of a Product Family

A backyard gardener might have been using the same pesticide for years to control the caterpillars that eat his tomato plants, with satisfactory results. One year, he adds sugar snap peas to his garden and discovers that he needs another product to control a different problem, namely powdery mildew, which affects sugar snap peas.

The company that produces the caterpillar pesticide has an entire family of products to help the home gardener successfully cultivate different crops. When the gardener goes to the store to purchase a product to tackle the new problem, he naturally chooses a product that is tailored to the new problem but from the same brand.

The company makes the selection easy by presenting both products in similar packaging. The sizes and shapes are the same but the label colors are different, allowing the buyer to scan the choices quickly.

A product family may comprise related products of various sizes, types, colors, qualities, or prices. A product family can also spawn a collection of sub-category product lines.

"Line consistency" refers to how closely related the products that make up a product family are. "Line vulnerability" refers to the percentage of sales or profits that are derived from only a few products in the product family.