What Is a Product Line?

A product line is a group of related products all marketed under a single brand name that is sold by the same company. Companies sell multiple product lines under their various brand names, seeking to distinguish them from each other for better usability for consumers.

Companies often expand their offerings by adding to existing product lines because consumers are more likely to purchase products from brands with which they are already familiar.

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Product Line

How Product Lines Work

Product lines are created by companies as a marketing strategy to capture the sales of consumers who are already buying the brand. The operating principle is that consumers are more likely to respond positively to brands they know and love and will be willing to buy the new products based on their positive experiences with the brand in the past.

For example, a cosmetic company that's already selling a high-priced product line of makeup (that might include foundation, concealer, powder, blush, eyeliner, eye shadow, mascara, and lipstick) under one of its well-known brands might launch a product line under the same brand name but at a lower price point. Product lines can vary in quality, price, and target market. Companies use product lines to gauge trends, which helps them to determine which markets to target.

A product line is a marketing strategy that enables a company to expand its business by targeting consumers who are either already buying the brand or are likely to buy the brand.

The Evolution of Product Lines

Companies add new items to their product lines, sometimes referred to as a product-line extension, to introduce brands to new customers. Consumers who have no interest in a company's sporting good products, for example, might be more interested in buying its product line of energy bars or sports beverages. Extending product lines allows companies to maximize their reach.

The way that companies use product lines is clearly evident in the auto industry. Auto manufacturers famously produce various product lines of vehicles to reach the widest possible range of consumers.

For this reason, they produce lines of economy vehicles, environmentally friendly vehicles and luxury vehicles all under their leading brands. Some are marketed to families, some to individuals, some to the young, some to the old—some are marketed to everybody.

Special Considerations

Product lines allow companies to reach regions and socioeconomic groups, sometimes even worldwide. In some cases, such as the cosmetic industry, companies also launch product lines under their best-selling brands to capture sales from consumers of various ethnic or age groups. Multinational corporations, such as restaurants, often launch product lines specifically for the countries in which they operate, as is the case with fast food restaurants operating in Asia.

Examples of Product Lines

Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) as a brand sells several highly recognized product lines including Windows, Office, Xbox, and SharePoint. Nike Inc. (NKE) has product lines for various sports, such as track and field, basketball, and soccer. The company's product lines include footwear, clothing, and equipment. PepsiCo (PEP) owns and markets under, among many other lines globally, Frito Lay, Gatorade, Quaker Oats, Tropicana and Garden of Eatin'. The product lines for Starbucks Corporation (SBUX) include coffee, ice cream, and drinkware.

Key Takeaways

  • A product line is a group of connected products marketed under a single brand name by the same company.
  • Companies sell multiple product lines under their various brand names, often differentiating by price, quality, country, or targeted demographic.
  • Companies often expand their offerings by adding to existing product lines because consumers are more likely to buy products from brands they already know.