What Is a Product Mix? A Guide for Beginner Product Managers

CareerFoundry contributor Dr. Anneke Schmidt

Diving into the world of product management, you may be wondering how corporations such as Coca-Cola handle a broad range of offerings. From the classic Coca-Cola and Diet Coke to flavor variations like Cherry Coke and even separate drinks like the European Dr. Pepper line and Glaceau Smartwater. It’s all about strategic orchestration.

Welcome to the concept of the product mix.

Essentially, the product mix is a company’s complete range of products on offer, a diverse toolbox for meeting consumer needs. Intrigued? Good, because understanding this concept is crucial for any aspiring or early-career product manager hoping to find their place in the tech industry or beyond.

By deepening your knowledge of product strategy, you’ll enhance your ability to guide your company’s product direction, increase market presence, and boost revenue. So, if you’re ready to gain an edge in this competitive space, let’s jump right in and explore the basics.

Here’s what we’ll be exploring:

  1. What is a product mix?
  2. Types of product mix
  3. How product managers use a product mix
  4. Elements of a product mix

1. What is a product mix?

A product mix, otherwise known as product assortment or portfolio, is the full array of products a company presents to its consumers.

Encompassing varied product lines, the product mix measures the total breadth, length, depth, and consistency of product offerings, ensuring a diversified market reach.

Product diversification in action: a real-world example

It’s vital to note that a product mix isn’t confined to tangible goods.

Consider ICICI Prudential Life Insurance’s evolution. Previously, they relied heavily on a single product—unit-linked insurance plans—comprising 80% of their portfolio. However, strategic transformation under CEO NS Kannan diversified their product range.

They successfully introduced a balanced distribution of ULIPs, non-linked savings, protection plans, annuities, and others, reducing the ULIP weightage to just 40%. This diversification, referred to as the 40-30-20-10 strategy, elevated their product mix margin from 17% to 32%, reaffirming ICICI’s industry leadership. 

This transformation perfectly illustrates the importance of having a balanced, diversified product mix in ensuring sustainable company growth, regardless of what happens in a specific market segment.

Product mix vs product line vs product portfolio

Think of a product line as a book in a series—it belongs to the same genre, has familiar characters, and follows a similar storyline.

It’s a narrower concept, with each book (or product) in the line sharing certain attributes, such as target demographics and pricing.

By contrast, the product mix is comparable to the entire library. It’s a comprehensive collection comprising all the book series (or product lines) a publisher (or company) provides, showcasing the diversity in offerings and the organization’s overall strategy.

Finally, the product portfolio is synonymous with the product mix, just like a library catalog representing the full array of books in the library.

Grasping these distinctions is as essential as knowing the right book for the right reader in effective product management and marketing strategy.

2. Types of product mix

A product mix encompasses various dimensions that can be tailored to suit your business goals and target market.

Understanding the different types of product portfolios will help you create a strategic and effective product portfolio.

Here are the key dimensions to consider:


the total number of product lines offered by a company.

A wider product mix can reach a larger customer base, but managing and catering to different consumer groups requires careful attention.


The total number of products within a product line.

Longer product lines offer more options to customers and can enhance customer satisfaction, but excessively dense lines may lead to competition and revenue loss.


The variations within a product line, such as different sizes or features. A deeper product portfolio provides more choices for customers and can address their specific preferences and needs.


How closely related the products within a product line are in terms of use, production, and distribution. Consistency ensures coherence and synergy within the product portfolio.

How to choose the right type of product mix for you

As a product manager, you must take a strategic approach to choosing the right type of product mix. Success depends on multiple factors, including:

  • Understanding the target market’s preferences, needs, and buying behavior
  • Evaluating the company’s capabilities, resources, and expertise
  • Conducting thorough market research to identify gaps and opportunities for differentiation
  • Analyzing the competitive landscape to provide unique value to customers
  • Considering customer lifecycle and demand patterns and catering to varying needs accordingly
  • Balancing innovation and stability while assessing profitability and synergy among the product lines
  • Aligning the product mix strategy with the company’s business strategy and objectives.

Optimizing the product portfolio isn’t a one-time task but an ongoing iterative process.

Continuously monitoring and adjusting the product mix based on evolving customer needs and market dynamics is crucial to remain competitive and grow the business.

3. How product managers use a product mix

With the basics out of the way, let’s explore how a product mix impacts four crucial product management areas: strategy, development, marketing, and analytics.

Portfolio planning

A product mix analysis allows managers to make data-driven decisions when planning their portfolio.

Emphasizing core products, they strategically expand into new markets or retract to focus on their core customers, diversifying risk and potentially increasing sales.

Product development

Efficient product development is the key to staying competitive and relevant.

Understanding the product mix is essential in this process. It identifies which core product elements require improvement and where potential lies for new product variations, appealing to a broader target audience and increasing sales opportunities.

Marketing and positioning

The product portfolio shapes the marketing mix, which in turn, reflects the brand identity.

Considering the company’s brand image helps to understand how best to position products. The comprehensive knowledge of the product mix allows better communication with the target audience, thus promoting sales.

Performance tracking

Regularly evaluating your product mix gives you valuable insights into product performance and customer preferences.

Such analysis guides future improvements and changes, facilitating a continuous cycle of enhancement that aligns with the company’s brand image and customer expectations.

4. Elements of a product mix

Apart from the dimensions we’ve talked about, there are other important components to consider when designing a product mix. These elements are also known as the “Four Ps of Marketing,” which are:

  1. Product: This refers to the tangible and intangible features, benefits, and attributes of the product or service being offered.
  2. Price: This describes the amount of money customers are willing to pay for the product or service, taking into account factors such as cost, competition, and perceived value.
  3. Place (Distribution): This pertains  to the channels and methods used to distribute the product or service to customers, including retail stores, online platforms, wholesalers, and direct sales.
  4. Promotion: This refers to the activities and strategies used to communicate and promote the product or service to the target market, such as advertising, sales promotions, public relations, and personal selling.

Understanding these critical elements is essential if you’re at the start of your journey in shaping a product’s lifecycle.

A comprehensive product mix isn’t simply a task to complete but an opportunity to distinguish your product in the marketplace.

To strive, you need to make consistent adjustments, always staying receptive to customer feedback. With these insights, your product will have every opportunity to carve a unique niche in its market.

5. Wrap-up

The product mix is an instrumental concept for product managers, bridging the gap between strategic planning and actual market performance.

By understanding and optimizing your product portfolio, you can meet diverse customer needs, refine your product portfolio, and drive growth effectively. With this guide, you’ve gained insights into the product mix’s dimensions, its role in various management areas, and the crucial elements to consider when designing a robust portfolio.

Ready to deepen your product management expertise? Take a step further and explore CareerFoundry’s free product management short course for a practical understanding of these concepts. 

It’s a great preparation to see if the field is for you, and whether you’d be well-suited to the fully mentored Product Management Career-Change Program we offer.

If you’d like to continue your reading journey, feel free to check out these related guides and articles:

What You Should Do Now

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