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Chapter 9: Product-Mix Strategies


The General Motors case study in Chapter 9 introduced you to some of the challenges faced by GM in differentiating among the many brands in its automobile product mix. Explore the following GM subsidiary homepages and answer the questions below.

Chevrolet http://www.chevrolet.com

Pontiac http://www.pontiac.com

Saturn http://www.saturncars.com

Oldsmobile http://www.oldsmobile.com

Buick http://www.buick.com

Cadillac http://www.cadillac.com

a) How would you describe the target market for each brand? Give specific examples from each homepage to support your answer. Does this product-mix delineation correspond with what you read about these brands in the case study? Choose one brand and suggest ways in which its Web promotion could be improved to better address the buying motives of its target market.

b) Choose one of the above homepages and write a summary of the product mix offered under this brand name. How does this represent a further segmentation of the target market for GM automobiles? Why is it especially important for these GM subsidiaries to be aware of each others' product-mix strategies?


To gain a better understanding of the relationship between product mix and product line, let's look at two closely tied - but very different - companies. Fender Musical Instruments is one of the largest and most famous guitar manufacturers in the world. The highest volume reseller of Fender products, meanwhile, is the Guitar Center retail chain. Use the following homepages to answer the questions below:

Fender http://www.fender.com

Guitar Center http://www.guitarcenter.com

First, describe the product mixes offered by each company. Be sure to address the issues of breadth and depth in your description while providing illustrative examples. Next, describe the product lines offered by Fender and Guitar Center. Give examples to support your answer.

9-3 POSITIONING (221-2)

Describe the positioning strategies used by the following companies. Give examples from each homepage to support your answer. (Remember... more than one positioning strategy may apply in each case.)

Working Assets http://www.wald.com

Women's NBA http://www.wnba.com

Sprint http://www.sprint.com

Dr. Pepper http://www.drpepper.com

Stage Research http://www.stageresearch.com


The Kraft Foods Website provides many excellent examples of both product-mix expansion strategies - line extension and mix extension.

Kraft Foods http://www.kraftfoods.com

Find three examples of each product-mix expansion strategy and use them to explain the difference between line extension and mix extension. How is Kraft Foods using each of these strategies to increase market share? What are the potential pitfalls of line extension and mix extension?



Of course, not all product-mix strategies are equally applicable to every marketing situation. Use the following company homepages to answer the questions below:

Healthy Choice http://www.healthychoice.com

FTD http://www.ftd.com

United Learning http://www.unitedlearning.com

For each company, come up with three different marketing ideas of your own to illustrate each of the following market strategies: product alteration, product-mix contraction, and trading up/trading down. How would you assess the appropriateness of these three strategies for each company?


One of the most widely publicized rivalries in the computer industry is the fierce competition between Netscape and Microsoft for the Web browser market. (See the Introduction for more on Web browsers.) Using the following homepages for reference, answer the questions below:

Microsoft Internet Explorer http://www.microsoft.com/ie/

Netscape Communicator http://home.netscape.com/comprod/products/communicator

a) How would you characterize the product life cycle for Web browser software? Write a description of each stage, explaining the different market conditions and probable environmental factors that apply to each one. Using Figures 9-2 and 9-3 for reference, sketch a graphical representation of what you think this life cycle might look like.

b) What stage of its life cycle is this product in now? Explain your answer, citing evidence from the above homepages where possible.

c) Would you call this product a fad? Why or why not?



Are the life cycles for services different from those that apply to goods? To explore this question, consider the express mail industry which has come into prominence only in the past decade or so. Using the following homepages for reference, repeat all of Exercise 9-6 above, applying the same questions to the market for overnight delivery services.

Federal Express http://www.fedex.com

DHL http://www.dhl.com

Airborne Express http://www.airborne-express.com

How does your life cycle profile for these services compare to the one you proposed for Web browser software in Exercise 9-6?



a) First, think of a product or product type which is characterized by planned obsolescence. Describe this product and explain how it conforms to the definition of planned obsolescence in the text. Is this product an example of technological or style obsolescence?

b) Next, using whatever Web resources you need (search engines, reference books, etc.) find a company Website promoting this product or product type. How does this homepage reflect the planned obsolescence of this product? Why must marketers be careful in promoting products of this type? What are the social and ethical implications of planned obsolescence marketing strategies?



The footwear industry provides an interesting backdrop for a discussion of style and fashion. The following homepages were selected for this exercise because they represent very different aspects of the footwear market.

Champion Boot Co. http://www.championboot.com

Saucony http://www.saucony.com

Blundstone Safety Footwear http://www.blundstone.com.au

Vans Shoes http://www.vansshoes.com

a) First, explain how the terms style and fashion apply to the footwear industry in general. Cite examples from the above Websites to illustrate the differences between these concepts.

b) How would you characterize the differences between these companies in terms of how much fashion and fashion trends affect their marketing strategies? As part of your answer to this question, describe the different fashion-adoption processes that most likely apply to each of these companies respectively. How much of a role do fashion cycles play in each case? Where appropriate, indicate and explain the fashion adoption theory that applies: trickle-down, trickle-across, or trickle-up.

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