Does Your Product Line Need Adjusting?
For most companies, tweaking a product is often a natural part of doing business. Performing a product line adjustment offers companies the chance to recalibrate, enhance or create a new product for its customers. For example, Coke Zero recently changed its name and formula to become Coca-Cola Zero Sugar. Before your company jumps headlong into a product change, it’s important to understand the impact it can have on your brand and the role marketing can play in the process.
Common Types of Product Line Adjustments
- Rework a current product. Extending or improving an existing product is the most common type of product line adjustment. For instance, today’s Apple iPhone is a technical world away from its original model of 10 years ago.
- Eliminate or discontinue a current product. Sometimes what people want changes. Recently the Ford Motor Company announced it will stop US production of sedans citing the reduction in consumer demand.
- Addition of a new product. One way to liven up your product offerings is to introduce a new one. Have you seen the new Kellogg’s Jif Peanut Butter cereal or Cinnamon Jacks?
Understanding Your Product or Brand
Before a company makes any changes, it should ask one important question. Is a product line adjustment really necessary? A key step is to review the market research and current marketing strategies related to the product’s lifecycle. If a company’s marketing is not aligned properly, the issue may not be with the product itself. A marketing realignment to increase sales and expand into new markets might be better than altering the current product.
Another key indicator to consider before proceeding with a product line adjustment is to scout out the overall landscape. Often times, it is important to understand what is happening in the forest, not just what is happening to the trees. Gauge how competitors are faring. Perhaps the economy or seasonality is hampering your product. Is the company’s overall brand hurting or just the specific product in question?
Identify the Goal or Issue
What is provoking this potential product line adjustment? It’s important for a company to honestly answer this question before making any changes. Are you trying to keep up with competition? Spark declining sales? Is there a change in product use or manufacturing? Are you meeting a new customer need? Entering a new market? Pioneering a new product? You need to have a solid understanding and a goal identified before making product line changes.
Challenges with Product Line Expansion and Modification
Adjusting a product line can be challenging. Companies should prepare for these potential speed bumps before launching a product change:
- Spreading the company too thin. Is it more advantageous for your company to be a little bit to everyone or everything to a smaller segment?
- Cannibalizing your other product offerings. A new product can potentially eat up market share held by its other products.
- Make sure the adjustments align with your brand. The goal is for a product adjustment to strengthen your brand, not confuse consumers.
- Will the adjustments impact brand loyalty? Veering too far from a company’s original course could impact consumer loyalty. Weigh the value of adhering to core products and values rather than chasing relevancy. It is important to stay true to the company mission and brand identity. There’s a difference between selling out for a quick buck and implementing changes to meet a need in the market (i.e., gluten-free versions, eco-friendly cars, manufacturing products from recycled materials, etc.)
Company growth and brand adjustments are a natural part of development. Sometimes there is a need for new products to reflect the change, but simply rolling out a new product does not guarantee success. The key is to implement a supporting marketing strategy to combat any consumer issues, help penetrate new markets and reach additional target audiences. Innovative Advertising offers guidance for product line adjustments. Innovative can determine if your current marketing strategy is aligned to your product lifecycles and can assist you with strategic planning.