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Profitable Strategies For Presenting Products with Multiple Options

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A comb. A book. A can of soda. These are simple products. What you pay for is what you get nothing more, nothing less.

But some products go a bit further, offering consumers choices about which set of options, if any, they want to include with the base product. Dell, for instance, offers bundled software, zip drives, game devices, and speakers with a basic computer; Palm Pilots can be bought alone or with accessories and additional software; even the simple bike comes with a lock, a water bottle and a headlight if you want them.

Some experts say that offering such options gives customers the chance to design a product around their personal preferences what marketers call "mass customization." Ideally, this marketing strategy increases customer satisfaction and loyalty to the brand.

All well and good. But one question remains: How should these options be presented along with the base model?

ADDITIVE VS. SUBTRACTIVE OPTION STRATEGIES


You, the marketer of a product or service, have at least two ways of presenting options. On the one hand, you can tell consumers that the product or service has a base price, and that for an extra charge they can choose from a list of product enhancements. The marketing field calls this an additive option strategy because consumers can add whatever options they want from the base model.


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Debbie MacInnis is the Charles L. and Ramona I. Hilliard Professor of Business Administration and a professor of marketing at USC's Marshall School of Business. She is co-author of a recent book on brand admiration, which blends years of best-practice thinking from academia with the real-world practice of marketing.

LinkedIn: Debbie MacInnis

 

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