October 31, 2019
Expanding or diversifying your brand’s product offerings is a big decision and one that may involve lots of moving parts, but the benefits of product line extension are clear. By introducing new products to existing categories, you have the opportunity to introduce entirely new customer cohorts to your brands. You get to explore additional price points, too, which may appeal to a wider range of consumers and unlocks new value for your existing customers. You revitalize your brand by creating immediate buzz around your new product line, which increases long-term brand awareness. And, most importantly, you open up new streams of revenue based on your increased market share.
If you’re curious about the possibilities of launching variations on your best-selling products, you can take inspiration from the most innovative and successful product line extension examples of today. They have a lot to teach us about what makes a successful product line extension—and what benefits that success can bring.
Consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands are the reigning royalty of product line extension. Think Tide’s Free & Gentle line, Dove’s Men+Care, or the classic example of Diet Coke. Good news: the following examples show that product line extension can be just as lucrative for major fashion brands, consumer tech retailers, and even smaller businesses and individual resellers.
In launching their first horizontal product line extension with A’Beautiful Soul, dynamic clothing and accessories brand Altar’d State entered into the adjacent-storefront scene alongside Gap, Express, and J Crew with a unique twist. A’Beautiful Soul locations offer apparel items of the same quality and price as the Altar’d State original, but tailored specifically for women in the size 10-24 range. This innovative product line extension comes with a healthy dose of inclusivity, advocacy, and social awareness, and is 100% on target for conscious consumers in the 2019 market.
When Dyson made the surprising shift into the hair tools industry with the premium-priced Supersonic hairdryer, they enjoyed instant success. The subsequent introduction of the one-of-a-kind hair styling tool, the Airwrap, in late 2018 was an experiment in product line extension that met with similar results. The Airwrap sold out within days of its initial launch. Of course, the Airwrap’s success rides on Dyson’s reputation for quality, and on the innovative technology that was designed to go viral. However, it also shows how product line extension can harness the power of a loyal consumer base that’s starving for more from a hot brand.
Mattel successfully managed to strike while the iron was hot with their most recent product extension. Their new line of gender-inclusive Creatable World dolls comes at a time when, according to the senior VP of Mattel Fashion Doll Design, research shows that “kids don’t want their toys dictated by gender norms.” The Creatable World dolls went viral and received strong support across all major social media platforms. With this timely product line extension, Mattel capitalized on the contemporary zeitgeist and created a wildly successful doll line that promises to “keep labels out and invite everyone in.”
Backed by many successful brand and product line extensions, Rihanna has become an unexpected and unparalleled mogul in the contemporary retail space. After years of luxury fashion collaborations, her Fenty brand recently expanded into the ready-to-wear market with the Savage X Fenty lingerie line, showing how successful a down-market stretch can be. Their initial 40-piece debut collection sold out in under a month and quickly expanded to a current catalog of over 800 styles, all sold through eCommerce. Fenty’s fearless stance on inclusivity has already inspired a marked shift in the lingerie industry and earned Rihanna a massive share of the market.
As evidenced by the successes above, today’s retail market is primed for brands to expand their inventory in creative ways. You could go so far as to say that product line extensions are now trending as a market movement. One of the most popular (and most successful) categories for these extensions, both for fashion brands and retailers in adjacent markets, is accessories. In 2019 alone, major brands like Walmart, Glossier, and Balenciaga have extended their reach in the accessories market.
Smaller brands and businesses, take note: launching into the accessories category is a wise move even if you don’t already have an extensive international following or an expansive inventory. Accessories open up a whole new price point in your catalog, making your brand more accessible to a wider audience.
Accessories are also incredibly valuable within the context of a social media marketing strategy. When you launch a new line, you get to utilize accessories as content. Sites like Instagram require daily posting. Accessories allow you to systematically filter items to your social pages at any time, as opposed to a few times per year when your new apparel collections are released — making for fresh and by-definition monetizable content that doesn’t “feel” like an advertisement
There’s always some degree of risk involved with every product launch. Even with a natural move from apparel to branded accessories, there’s no guarantee that a new product line will go over well with your audience. To maximize your potential for success and improve your chances for a positive ROI, you’ll need to minimize costs and prioritize quality at every logistical step, starting with manufacturing.
The ideal scenario would be to manufacture small batches of your best accessory ideas at relatively low cost. That way you can launch limited edition campaigns and run A/B testing to discover whether these products will benefit your bottom line. This strategy may not be possible with your existing supply chain—but it’s easily achievable through custom contract manufacturing.
By partnering with an on-demand manufacturer like The/Studio, you can launch limited runs of fully custom, high-quality products with rapid turnaround time. This is a particularly wise choice for fashion brands who want to expand but don’t want to commit to a long-term or potentially costly venture. Rather than wasting time and money on mass production, trial a product line extension with custom manufacturing for far less risk and far greater ROI.
The/Studio is an on-demand manufacturing firm specializing in high-quality custom accessories and apparel. With low MOQs and retail-ready quality, we help clients in the fashion industry stay relevant and gain a competitive advantage through product line extension. Contact us to get started on your next successful launch.