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Author Biography:

Stephanie Taylor Christensen  is a freelance writer who covers personal finance, career, health,and small business news. She is the founder of Indebtedless and Om for Mom prenatal yoga in Columbus, Ohio. Connect with her on Twitter.@STCWriting or www.stephanietaylorchristensen.com



How to Expand Into New Holiday Product Line Extensions
By Stephanie Taylor Christensen Thursday, November 6, 2014
Experimenting with product line extensions that address additional needs the holidays present (like stocking stuffers) can boost your potential profitability, and enhance existing average order values, without requiring that you invest heavily in the extension, or expose your business to financial risk.  Here are some simply ways to explore product line extensions this holiday season.


Do Your Homework.

Brainstorm your “next best” product extension ideas by first considering what brings customers to your business—and what keeps them coming back. Research on customer loyalty indicates that the common emotional drivers behind repeat purchases can be loosely placed into broad categories like love (which can include how they feel when they’re in your store, or using your product, or for a hobby, a goal, person, or a cause) pride (which can include feeling like they a scored a major bargain—or have attained exclusivity because of an association with your brand  and guilt (engaging with your brand eases it). Identify what needs your business currently fills for your different customer segments, and how a product extension could fill them further. Additionally, consider how a product line extension could attract a new audience whose needs you haven’t yet met—whether due to the product itself, it’s purpose, it’s ingredients, or simply, its price.

Ensure the new product line fits your business goals.

The success of a product line extension has a lot to do with the brand perception your audience has of your business, their interests and needs (and whether the new product line meets them),the availability of an item through other channels, and the degree to which you price items appropriately. Examine your sales trends and goals, and how a product extension could prove beneficial. If you’d benefit by boosting your average order value, for example, adding a line of stocking stuffers could help you realize that goal. If you’d like to build loyalty, product extensions can provide a means to give your valued customers the opportunity earn a free premium item when they purchase a qualifying item, or make a purchase worth a certain amount. Research your direct and indirect competitors to see where you may fill a void that currently exists, and to ensure that your pricing is reflective of what’s available (and in demand) in the marketplace.

Time your extension to reach the masses.

Visually-based forms of social media and cross-promotions with other relevant websites can build exposure for your new products, but your timing matters. On Pinterest, for example, user behavior skews heavily to “pins” in the Food and Craft category on Sundays. Similarly, websites and blogs in niches related to lifestyle, parenting, and saving money typically start covering the idea of holiday spending and gifting soon after Halloween. Pitch your product line extension with story ideas like “clever stocking stuffers you won’t find at Target” or “hostess gifts that will wow the party” to such high-traffic online publishers that reach audiences relevant to your target, to ensure you’re “present” as a resource when they’re looking for such ideas.