A product line is a group of products that are closely related because they function in a similar manner, are sold to the same customer groups, are marketed through the same types of outlets, or fall within given price ranges. For example, Nike produces several lines of athletic shoes, Motorola produces several lines of telecommunications products, and AT&T offers several lines of long-distance telephone services.
A product mix (or product assortment) consists of all the product lines and items that a particular seller offers for sale. Avon’s product mix consists of four major product lines: cosmetics, jewelry, fashions, and household items. Each product line consists of several sublines.
A company’s product mix has four important dimensions: width, length, depth, and consistency. Product mix width refers to the number of different product lines the company carries. For example, Procter & Gamble markets a fairly wide product mix consisting of many product lines, including paper, food, household cleaning, medicinal, cosmetics, and personal care products. Product mix length refers to the total number of items the company carries within its product lines. Procter & Gamble typically carries many brands within each line. For example, it sells eleven laundry detergents, eight hand soaps, six shampoos, and four dishwashing detergents.
Product line depth refers to the number of versions offered of each product in the line. Thus, Procter & Gamble’s Crest toothpaste comes in three sizes and two formulations (paste and gel). Finally, the consistency of the product mix refers to how closely related the various product lines are in end use, production requirements, distribution channels, or some other way. Procter & Gamble’s product lines are consistent insofar as they are consumer products that go through the same distribution channels. The lines are less consistent insofar as they perform different functions for buyers.