Product Line Definition
A product line is a system that contains products, services, or combinations that complement one another.
Products Working In Unison
What matters most is if the products or offerings work in unison within the system to boost the whole. The definition focuses on the whole, not on different products merely being placed together. And the definition purposely ties the products’ interplay within a system to overall performance.
The consumer products world often cites a brand as a unifying force to boost performance. And the B2B world will point to product architecture as a driving force. Either can be correct, but neither is true for every case.
You’ll also find business sources say a product line is a group of different products placed in a single catalog or sold by a single sales force. These are old definitions that don’t help drive improved performance.
Product Lines Boost Performance
So, let’s be clear. There’s only one reason to create and organize a set of products into a product line. It’s to boost their performance. And managing products as a line should deliver better results than managing the products separately. That’s why performance goes to the heart of the product line definition.
At a granular level, the product line is a system of parts and forces. And the interaction of these parts and forces determine the performance. You’ll see products as parts, and you’ll see brands and design architecture as forces. But there are also other system parts and forces that are not products, brands, or design architectures.
Product Lines are Systems
Managing a product line is about managing a system. And if you define the product line only as a set of products, you’ll miss the reason those products should coexist in the line. If they don’t work to boost one another, the set is just a pile of products.
Product Line systems are important contributors to a business. They deliver cash flow, drive greater customer satisfaction, and fend off competitors. And the product line’s performance depends on how well managers orchestrate the interplay of the system’s parts and forces.
See a deeper discussion HERE