ADVICE: WHY A PRODUCT LINE EXTENSION SHOULD BE PART OF YOUR WINNING SALES STRATEGY


CEO of Pearl Resourcing, Emily Page, lets you in on how to broaden your brand's horizon and capture the heart of the marketplace.

Variety is the spice of life - it can also be the life of your spice brand. For most brand owners getting just ONE product off the ground is a miracle, but adding line extensions can actually help you attract sales. Let’s talk sales strategy!

1.) IT GIVES YOU AN EXCUSE TO EMAIL YOUR BUYER WITH SOMETHING EXCITING AND NEW

The most simple and significant reason product line extensions are important is because it gives you an excuse to reach out to buyers and tell them something exciting and new. New items that are meeting trends and sales cycles in the category are a great excuse to call someone to schedule a new meeting. Plus if you did the line extension right you will be doing something to serve that buyer and help them grow the sales in the category under management.


PRO TIP: When calling or emailing - focus on the value to the end user. Tell your buyers how this could be of interest for THEIR goals, before telling them about your company or product. Always seek to serve your customer to get the highest response rates.

2.) BIGGER VISUAL REAL ESTATE RESULTS IN MORE RETAIL SALES


Shoppers are busy and want their errand-running to be efficient - they rarely take time to look at every single item on the shelf as they roll by. Product diversity will get you noticed because it widens the visual real estate of your brand, making it easier to see and therefore easier to buy - it’s like a grocery store billboard on the aisle! When your brand is bigger on the shelf it creates subliminal “gravity,” pulling the buyer’s attention into your brand’s orbit.

Product diversity will get you noticed because it widens the visual real estate of your brand

Line extensions also make an impact with grocery store buyers. They won’t place the same flavor on the shelf 4-5 across, but having other options means additional slotting. For example, if chocolate is your best-selling flavor consider adding vanilla or strawberry. Flavor assortments provide the opportunity for an entire brand to be a mosaic of similar colors and patterns that make a larger visual impact (think: LaCroix).



PRO TIP: Studies have shown that adding a few additional options (even if they aren’t best sellers) can boost the sale of your best seller by making the perceived value of that option higher. Take the time to consider if your loss leader is lending a helping hand to your most popular option – don’t write off the runt so soon! For a slightly nerdier yet more authoritative reference check out The Economist’s famous article, “The Importance of Irrelevant Alternatives.”

3.) LINE EXTENSIONS SHOW YOU UNDERSTAND CUSTOMER DEMAND


A robust product line proves to your retail buyer that you’re in it to win it. In buyer meetings your audience wants to be inspired by your brand’s narrative and your customers’ devotion. They want you to educate them in your category about what is trending, what customers want and how your products are the best option to meet those needs.


An evolving and strategic product line shows not only that you’re an established business (rather than a one hit wonder) but also that you can continue to understand and serve current customer desires. Your buyer will feel more confident buying from brands that show they know what will sell and are ready to eliminate and create products to follow those trends. Add products that show you understand your shared customers’ needs because the proof is in the chocolate/vanilla/butterscotch pudding!


PRO TIP: Don’t carelessly add things. You want to be able to authentically explain why you create products that serve your customers. Have an exciting story and reason behind why you added the next product, flavor or color. The ability to tell a buyer that customers want it or that “taste test research” shows this would be a hit is an opportunity to sell your product's story and company's momentum. That line extension demonstrates to buyers the serious time and money you’ve invested in the product’s expansion and the intention behind how you’re building your brand!

4.) ASSORTED FLAVORS AND SIZES CAPTURE A WIDER APPEAL


One serving size does not fit all. Line extensions that include different pack sizes and/or flavors can make your product well-suited to regional stores or niche categories. For example, in rural store locations families buy in bulk to avoid additional trips to the store therefore preferring the larger bag of chips. Metropolitan shoppers with easier access to their neighborhood grocer prioritize home storage space and prefer single serve portions.


Line extensions that include different pack sizes and/or flavors can make you product well-suited to regional stores or niche categories

Oftentimes different flavors sell better depending on the region. In Texas, snack programs with barbecue or cheese flavors are successful. When creating beverages products, we found that drinks labeled “sweet tea” work well in southern communities. In contrast California, Washington and Oregon prefer zero sugar Paleo products. By offering diverse sizes and flavors you become a legitimate option for retail buyers, proving that you’re a brand that does their research, knows their audience(s) and whose product line is a feast for the regional masses.


PRO TIP: What regions or customers do you want to target next? How are they buying differently than your current customers? Visit stores in those areas and shop to get inspiration for what product variation and sizes are working in those regions. No time to travel there? Ask your buyer or product owners in non-competing categories for feedback.

Creating line extensions within your brand should be a mindful and deliberate part of your sales strategy. Product diversity can influence your store visibility to consumers, communicate an established brand story to buyers and enhance your product’s regional appeal. The key to this strategy’s success is executing it with a sales focused purpose. Don’t just add to add – that will confuse your consumer, exhibit a poor business plan to a retail buyer and exclude you from any niche markets. Take a minute to step back and consider your product offering and how to grow it to increase sales today.


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ACTION STEPS:

  1. Brainstorm with your team what line extensions make sense for your product offering. What do customers want? Where are you succeeding and what could work there too? Pick which items your team can reasonably launch within the next year.

  2. Ask your buyers which packaging sizes, flavors or line extensions are currently working regionally or in your category to help you get great ideas.

  3. Create the mock-ups and costing for your line extensions BEFORE the sales meetings so you can show your retail buyers options even before you go to mass production. This allows you to get feedback and make revisions before the packaging is printed.


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This article is based on an interview of Emily Page CEO of Pearl Resourcing by Joe Tarnowski, VP of Marketing from ECRM (https://www.linkedin.com/in/tarnowskijoseph/| https://www.linkedin.com/company/ecrm_2/)

Want to watch a video where we go over this – you can watch our interview at ECRM’s Vitamin, Weight Management & Sports Nutrition session in Phoenix:

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