Portfolio Management


The study and understanding of the management of brand portfolios (i.e., several brands owned by the same corporation) or product portfolios (i.e., SKUs or variants within a brand, ‘sub-brands’) and how they can relate to brand growth.

Key Findings

  • An audit by the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute of over 4,500 brands across 12 product categories in the UK in 2009 – 2011 (from Fabric Care, Instant Coffee, to Biscuits, Tea, and Cough Syrup) show that big brands typically have more products in their portfolio compared to small brands.
  • The study reveals that there is no universal recommendation of an optimal product portfolio size, as the norms of product portfolio size and composition (e.g. the number of flavours/scents, pack size options) are idiosyncratic to individual categories.
  • The top-selling single SKU within a product portfolio is typically purchased by four out of ten brand buyers and contributes one-third of the total unit sales and revenue for the brand — this shows how important the core product in the portfolio is.

Best Practice

  • Merely having a bigger product portfolio is not the shortcut to brand growth. A broader focus on systematically managing Physical Availability and Mental Availability is still the route to sustainable brand growth.
  • Core products (the biggest sellers) need to be widely distributed and supported by advertising. This needs to remain the focus of marketing strategy, along with careful use of new product development.
  • Range extensions should be used judiciously where doing so can cater to a broader range of needs and potential purchase occasions.