Product Line

Product Line – A group of products marketed by an organization to one general market. The products have some characteristics, customers, and/or uses in common, and may also share technologies, distribution channels, prices, services, etc. There are often product lines within product lines.

Product Line Optimization – Models to establish the optimal product line (in terms of number of products and their specific characteristics and positioning) have been typically developed in the context of conjoint analysis and have taken two forms: (1) buyer’s welfare models (how to maximize the buyer’s utility, utilizing, for example, integer programming or search heuristics); and (2) seller’s welfare models that involve the selection of the best set of products to maximize the profits of the firm, utilizing, for example, dynamic programming or search heuristics. For a review of these approaches and a particular example that has been applied, see Green and Krieger (1985).

Product Management Organization – Product managers or brand managers are responsible for developing marketing plans, coordinating implementation of the plans by the functional departments, and monitoring performance of their assigned products. Product managers report to the marketing manager unless there are large numbers of them, in which case they report to an intervening level of supervision such as the group product manager or category manager. The terms product management and product manager are interchangeable with brand management and brand manager. Comment: The advantage of this form of organization is that each product receives full attention of one person responsible for its success. The disadvantage is that the product manager has no authority over the functional departments that design, produce, finance, distribute, sell, and service the product. Yet the system works well enough that it is widely used by multiproduct companies.

Product Manager – 1. (organization definition) This manager is responsible for the planning, coordination, and monitoring of performance of a product in a multiproduct company or division. The product manager reports to the marketing manager or (if there are numerous product managers) to an intervening level of supervision as group product manager. Some multibrand companies use the term brand manager rather than product manager to denote this position. Note: Because the product manager does not have line authority over the functional units that execute plans, this manager’s success in achieving product goals (e.g. sales, profits, and market share) is largely dependent on his/her expert knowledge and persuasive ability. Types of functional units with which the product manager has working relationships include research and development, engineering, production, physical distribution, packaging, finance, marketing research, sales, advertising, and sales promotion. The product manager may be the principal point of contact between marketing management and the advertising agency. Although it is the exception rather than the rule, new product development may be an added responsibility of the product manager. If so, it is usually limited to product improvement or product line extension. 2. (product development definition) A person charged with one or more products or brands. Most often, a product manager is responsible for formulating and implementing the marketing goals and strategies for commercialized products. In some cases, however, a product manager also may be responsible for new product development. As a rule, a product manager must coordinate the efforts of various disciplinary specialists, e.g., manufacturing, sales, and marketing research.

Product Mix – The full set of products offered for sale of an organization. The product mix includes all product lines and categories. It may be defined more narrowly in specific case to mean only that set of products in a particular product line or particular market.

Product Modification – The altering of a current product so as to make it more appealing to the market place. This contrasts with creating a line extension and with repositioning a current product, both of which can be used to achieve the same purpose.

Product Performance Tracking – A process of tracking the performance of a commercialized product in the market. The specific factors that are tracked depend on the product’s marketing strategy. Typically, these factors are measures: sales, share of the market, consumer awareness, advertising effectiveness, and customer satisfaction.

Product Planning – A term of many meanings, but generally it is used to designate a staff position charged with part or all of the task of managing product innovation within an organization. in some firms, it also includes acquisition of products or processes.

Product Planning Manager – In a functionally organized department (with no product managers), the product planning manager represents the marketing manager in contrasts with functional units within and outside the marketing department with respect to product line planning, development of new products, improvement of existing products, and pruning the product line. The product planning manager reports to the marketing manager and assists this executive with the development of overall product strategy. Comment: this position usually is not present in a product functions listed above are responsibility of product managers or category managers, except for new product development, which is usually assigned to a new product manager.

Product Positioning – (1) The way consumers, users, buyers, and other view competitive brands or types of products. As determined by market research techniques, the various products are plotted unto maps, using product attributes as dimensions. This use of product positioning is perceptual, not necessarily valid as based on measured product attributes. Historically, the competitive product positioning were based on sales rank in the market, but this is limited perception has long since given way to the full range of product assessments, including psychological ones. (2) For new products, product positioning means how the innovator firm decides to compare the new item to its predecessors. for the new item, the mental slates of persons in the market place are blank; this is the only chance the innovator will have to make a first impression. Later, after the introduction is over, the earlier definition of positioning will take over, as persons make their own positioning decisions. (3) For both new and established products, a product positioning may be combined with a target segment to integrate the marketing tool decisions. Its earlier use exclusively in advertising is no longer appropriate.

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