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Here’s How to Expand Your Product Catalog

Jason Wong
Jason Wong
Okay so you launched your first product, and you want to make your store look more full and legitimate, expanding your catalog is the next move.

We’re about to release our largest launch at doe next month, something we’ve never done before and in a whole different vertical. Once we launched I’ll write about the hurdles we had to jump through to get there, but man, it’s a wild ride.
A common question that brands ask me is how to expand their product offerings. I’ll tell you how, but first let’s talk about why.
Product offering usually comes a year after you launch your brand, where you had the chance to prove out the product market fit (or have some data on where you should go next). We expand because we want to look more legitimate, after all, it’s usually hard to trust a store that only has one product on the shelf (there are exceptions ofc). We also expand because it’s a great way to extend the life time value of a customer. If you can convince someone to buy into your brand for the brand values and design directions, then you can squeeze more money out of each customer. Simple right?
In simple terms, there are two types of expansions:
Vertical expansion: where you add on variations of the same product, like introducing new ice cream flavors to add on to your existing ones.
Horizontal expansion: where you bring in a new collection of products that targets a different type of buyer persona or is complimentary to your existing product offerings. Think about introducing pimple patches and exfoliating scrubs after you’ve had success proving out face wash and moisturizer in your skincare brand.
Some brands only do one, some do a hybrid of both, there’s no right or wrong because it’s entirely dependent on your business goals. Of course, vertical expansion is the easiest because it’s a proven framework that you can just add to it, so I see younger brands do this until they have a little bit more bread.
The challenge that brands face when thinking about expansion comes down to not knowing what to make and not having enough money to expand. Expansion is a capital intensive initiative – you’re tying more money to buy inventory for a new line on top of your existing line, it’s literally like having another kid.
There’s no right or wrong time to expand. Again, purely dependent on your position and business goals, but there’s generally some indicators within your business that tells you to expand.
Your customers might be asking you for it in the comments or you’re feeling like your customers aren’t coming back for second orders because your product isn’t meant to be a replenish-able. In that case, it’s time to expand and capture those customers again. A really good example to look at is Ridge Wallet. They started by making exceptional quality wallets for every day carry, but what are the odds of people buying two or three wallets a year? Taking a look at their product offerings now, you’re going to notice new product lines that evolve around their product design philosophy.
4 Ways to Strategize Your Expansion
Amazon and dot com product review
I love reading reviews from my own site, Amazon listings and website reviews of competing products. Specifically, I look at the 1 to 3 star reviews to really pin point what people don’t like about the product. I look at these are opportunities to build a product around or iterate on my existing product. As the product creator, it’s easy to think that your product is perfect, but through time and countless usage from your customers do you really get the chance to see ways you can vertically expand on your current product.
Customer survey
I’m a bit advocate for this. Talk to your damn customers.
We have a product focus group in our community where we talk to our customers consistently to figure out what pain points they have and how we can solve it with the next iteration. I treat my physical products like a digital product, always room for updates and the next version. A company that do an amazing job at this is Obvi. They’re a $30M supplements brand that has expanded their flavors entirely from customer survey. You get to figure out the marketing points for the new product from the people giving you their money and you have a list of people who are willing to buy right when you launch. It’s a low hanging fruit strategy to expand.
General Market Trend 
This really requires you to stay observant around what’s happening in the space but also the world. When there’s a big push against being more green and eco-conscious, a ton of new products came to address that. Brands made their new products without certain ingredients and used it in their marketing materials, brands replaced plastic with reusable alternatives, all coming from observing the macro trends in the space. I’m in beauty so I know more about what’s going on in the beauty space, I know when everyone started working from home, beauty brands that paid attention jumped on the wave to make their products simpler. Cue the Youthforia lazy makeup movement that doubles down on makeup that you can sleep in – all comes from recognizing of the macro trends.
Look at other countries 
Being in the United States it’s easy to forget how big the world is. A lot of my friends have never traveled outside of the country and don’t realize how much innovation happens in other countries. In my space in particular, I love looking at the innovations coming out of Japan, Korea, and China. Companies that can migrate new products from other countries and staying ahead of trends can get a big head start in their own country. Hero Cosmetics, the company that was just sold for north of $600M last week, sells a hydrocolloid pimple patch that got its start in Korea. The founder Ju Rhyu, a Korean American herself, saw the opportunity in Korea and made a splash here stateside.
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I’ve been trying to write more often and share my learnings in this memo. Thank you guys for tuning in! Reply back if you ever have any questions. I reply to everyone.
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Jason Wong
Jason Wong @eggroli

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