Stores and websites are not a hodgepodge of products with no discernible organization for a reason. People want a sense of direction and a positive customer experience, even when they are “just browsing.” They also want to know that they are in good hands when it comes to the category of products they are exploring, be it kitchenware, breakfast cereal, or winter coats. Product category marketing helps your brand stand out among related items, which is why your company’s products end up in the shopping cart, be it real or virtual.
What is a product category?
A product category is “a particular group of related products”, according to the Cambridge dictionary. Your various offerings and customer characters should guide the organization and grouping of your product categories. For example, REI Co-Op offers a wide range of outdoor equipment. To guide customers, they divide their products into categories based on interests, such as running, climbing, and snow sports. For fashion retailers, it makes more sense to organize categories by product type, such as shoes, shirts, and pants. Product category marketing amplifies why a company is the best choice within that product group. Why should customers choose your offering over your direct competitors? Getting brand recognition and appreciation in a product category means higher profits for your marketing efforts. When consumers have positive experiences with a specific product category, it also builds trust in the brand, which often spreads to other categories through halo effect. Product categories are sometimes confused with product classification. Both are organizational strategies and help guide marketing decisions, but the classifications are much broader (think convenience products, shopping products, and specialty products). Let’s take a look at nine product category marketing examples to inspire yours.
9 Examples of Product Category Marketing
1. Fenty Beauty
Product Category: High-end Foundation Makeup Admittedly it helps to have singer and entrepreneurial powerhouse Rihanna at the helm. But Fenty Beauty innovated the idea of foundation “for everyone” and its commitment to inclusion made the brand an instant hit. Beyond foundation, Fenty Beauty Face products include bronzer, highlighter, powder, and concealer in shades that work for everyone. The launch was an industry transformative, with brands that broaden their base color line in response. Marketing for Fenty Beauty Face products focuses on the wide palette of colors available and features models and influencers across the spectrum of shades.
Product Category: Dog Beds This Vermont-based retailer has been a big name in fly fishing and outdoor gear since 1856. But it has also carved a niche in the product with dog gear, and dog beds in particular. The brand appeals to people who want comfortable dog beds for their furry friends in styles that enhance their home décor. The marketing images of dogs sleeping or lounging on Orvis beds are enough to inspire a nap. They have made their site a resource for canine health and behavior topics. And their social feeds are packed with compelling images and videos of dogs, including puppies in a hammock (!).
Product Category: Bedding Assembling your furniture can be a difficult task, but at least Ikea also supports your relaxation. Their bedding marketing shows fun sheets and prints for kids and a mix of bold, neutral designs for adults. The bedding product category is grouped into ‘home textiles’ along with curtains, duvets, pillows and towels. A fun Ikea ad campaign in the UK even featured bottled bedding and pillows, connecting the dots between a good night’s sleep and health. In the current pandemic, the company commercialized the idea that comfortable bedding was essential, especially when your bed doubles as your office.
Product Category: Jewelry For more than a century, Swarovski has brought glitter to dresses, tiaras, jewelry and decorative sculptures. For its category of jewelry products, Swarovski puts luxury within reach with a combination of classic and modern necklaces, earrings, bracelets and crystal watches. They maintain brand awareness with seasonal collections, collaborations with designers and celebrities such as Karl Lagerfield and Penelope Cruz, and pop culture-inspired releases. This fall, her #SparkDelight social media campaign featured influencers sharing tips for finding joy in the little things, as big events were off the social calendar.
Product Category: Grocery Commodities Target is known for its positioning in all product categories, including affordable fashion, electronics, and cleaning supplies. Although their grocery section is smaller than most supermarkets, they cover all the ‘must-haves’ on any shopping list, from milk to salads to pasta. In 2019, Target added its own brand of grocery staples with its Good & Gather line, which includes frozen berries, cereal, sandwiches and eggs. Her Instagram Stories feature easy snack and meal ideas, and feature food influencers like TikTok and Instagram sensations Tabitha Browne and Lisa Lin.
Product Category: Skin Care Launched in 2004, Dove’s ‘Real Beauty’ campaign was far ahead of other brands in promoting body positivity and self-acceptance. His advertising campaigns for body lotions and soaps have long featured women with a wide variety of body types and skin colors. Rolls, wrinkles, cellulite and stretch marks are proudly and beautifully displayed on their social channels. Today, their skincare brand identity is equated with self-confidence, and Dove body lotions and soaps are frequent fliers on the ‘best of’ lists for affordable skincare.
Product Category: Seasonal and Christmas Decorations The company known for DIY is also an ideal place for seasonal and Christmas decorations. Michaels stores transform every month or two with festive décor for Spring, Summer, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, July 4th, Mardi Gras and Pride Month. Black Friday deals = an extra prize of happy holidays 🙌 #SpottedAtMichaels
📷: @vickiboutin pic.twitter.com/dxmiIq9zbC
– Michaels Stores (@MichaelsStores) November 28, 2020
Their social media and weekly ads advertise each season with abundant ready-to-wear decorations.
Product Category: Eco-friendly Outerwear Patagonia’s motto is “We are in business to save our home planet” and the company’s marketing efforts are based on its commitment to sustainability across all product lines. Its website urges consumers to “Buy Less” and features a “Used Equipment” section. When you visit their Facebook or Instagram pages, you have to do a little searching to find posts that highlight particular products. Instead, the feeds focus on pressing issues like environmental stewardship and fair labor practices. When you need to buy a new (or used) outerwear, consumers know they are supporting a business to actively minimize its negative impacts.
Product Category: Green Cleaning Supplies for the Home Grove Collaborative is another company focused on sustainability. Their goal is to make it simple and affordable for people to choose eco-friendly household products that are non-toxic, sustainable, and cruelty-free. The company offers eco-friendly cleaning supplies, including refills of concentrated soap and detergent and reusable glass bottles, which they ship in recurring monthly shipments. Its marketing reflects its minimalist spirit, with images of its cleaning products ready in spotless kitchens and bathrooms. Grove uses Instagram Stories to attract new customers with product images, cleaning tips, and even humorous videos. The company also shares ideas for Christmas food and decorations, and publishes a monthly ‘Sustainability Snapshot’ of its environmental impact, such as how many single-use plastic bottles they keep out of landfills. Each of these brands has clarified where their products fit in larger retail categories. This helps them to market their distinctive value to target customers and ultimately to gain greater market share within these product categories.