Let’s say you’ve built a successful ecommerce business selling ethically manufactured running shoes, and you want to expand into formal footwear. You decide the best approach is to launch a new product line—a collection of dress shoes. This new product line gives existing customers different footwear options and attracts new customers who are specifically searching for dress shoes.
Developing a new product line has the potential to widen your market reach, keep your existing customers engaged, and create a lasting connection with your customer base. Here’s what a product line is and how to start one.
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What is a product line?
A product line is a collection of products that are similar to each other, marketed under one name, and different from the other products that your company sells. One product line can include a variety of similar products that range in size, color, design, and other features. For example, Grovemade offers a selection of pens that are unique from its other office accessory product lines.
The goal of developing new product lines is to attract customers by increasing your range of options, allowing you to readily tap into your existing market, while expanding into different demographics.
How to start a product line
- Define your audience and conduct market research
- Create a unique selling proposition
- Develop a marketing strategy
- Create and test the product line
Here are some guidelines to help you develop a product line:
1. Define your audience and conduct market research
Identify your target audience and, through market research, gather information about the types of products they want. This will help you come up with innovative solutions to your target market’s specific needs. You can observe customer behavior or conduct surveys to gather feedback directly from your customers.
Example: Asphalte is a clothing brand that built its business model around market research. Before launching a new product line, Asphalte spends weeks gathering feedback from its customers, via questionnaires about the kinds of clothes they want to wear.
2. Create a unique selling proposition
A unique selling proposition (USP) is what sets your product line apart from your competitors’ offerings. It could be a lower price or a higher-quality product. When defining your USP, focus on what your target audience values. Use your market research to create product lines that offer innovative solutions to your target audience’s specific problems. When brainstorming new product line ideas, clearly define how your customers will benefit from your new product line in contrast to the competition.
3. Develop a marketing strategy
A marketing strategy for your product line can combine SEO marketing, social media marketing, and other digital marketing strategies. Preparing the right marketing campaign that is tailored to your customer’s needs and expectations can help your target audience find your new product line. Develop marketing materials early so they’re ready to go on the day of your product launch.
4. Create and test the product line
Create a product line that solves your target audience’s needs and speaks to your company’s unique selling proposition. Test different product ideas, styles, and designs by offering samples of new products to your customers in your physical or online store. The more you test your product lines and get customer feedback, the more information you’ll have to improve your products. Once you’ve found the right direction for your product line, prepare a plan for your product launch. That would involve setting a reasonable launch date, releasing marketing materials, and building hype around your new product line.
Tips and best practices for starting a product line
Consider these tips when launching a product line:
- Be flexible in product design. Use surveys on website landing pages and email marketing campaigns to get feedback about the products your customers are most interested in. Then, design product lines that respond to this customer feedback. Don't be afraid to redevelop your initial idea for a product line if you get feedback from your market research that you should pivot.
- Develop consistent branding for the product line. Use product branding to create a distinct identity for your new product line. At the same time, make sure this product line’s messaging aligns with your company’s brand strategy.
- Provide options. When launching a new product line, consider offering products of different sizes, colors, and features. By offering instant access to multiple designs of your new product line, you might be able to entice a wider swath of customers.
- Allocate your resources effectively. Evaluate your existing product lines before launching a new one. If a particular product is underperforming, consider paring back its manufacturing in order to make room for new products.
How to start a product line FAQ
What are common challenges when starting a product line?
When you’re starting a product line, two common challenges are finding the right idea and connecting with your target market. Product research can help drum up product line ideas that stand out from your competition. Market research can help you connect with your target audience so you can create products that speak to their specific values.
How do I come up with ideas for products to include in my product line?
You can come up with new product ideas by conducting market research and customer surveys, and brainstorming ideas with your team. Don’t forget to take inspiration from your company’s own story and existing offerings—new product lines can take advantage of your expertise. For instance, Dollar Shave Club initially sold razors and other shaving products but soon expanded within the personal grooming space by adding a new line of hair care products.
How do I determine the pricing strategy for my products?
Add up the total cost of developing, producing, and distributing your products. Next, research what the average profit margin is for your industry. Use a profit margin calculator to determine your sale price at the industry-standard markup. This will give you a starting point for pricing the items in your product line.