How to Develop a Product Line Using the 3 – 5 Strategy

In my last article, How your Creativity is Killing Sales, I mentioned using a 3 – 5 guideline when creating your products, which helps ensure you’re not offering too much selection.

Sticking to this 3 – 5 strategy also helps ensure your product line stays cohesive.

This article is a detailed explanation of that strategy, sharing examples.


Who is this strategy for?

You may want to use this product development strategy if:

  • You’re feeling overwhelmed with your product selection
  • You’re a new business owner and don’t know which products to offer
  • You have low UPT (units per transaction)
  • You have a hard time matching colors/patterns

This strategy is a simple guideline to follow if you need to rein in your product selection but are unsure how.


Why you should limit your products

Reducing how many products you make and how much product variation you offer is a point I probably stress too much. 

But that’s because it’s the number one problem I see most craft business owners struggle with.

It’s also the advice I get the most push back on.

“But I have tons of selection and my booth is always busy.” 

I don’t doubt that. 

Variation will attract shoppers. But a limited selection will turn more shoppers into buyers.

Studies have proven, an abundance of options has a negative impact on sales. 

Too many product options can cause:

It’s important to remember, you’re a small business. 

You need to specialize in something. 


How to limit your products using the 3 – 5 strategy

The 3 – 5 strategy is a simple guideline to use when developing products, to ensure you’re not overwhelming yourself, or your shoppers with too many options. 

As you establish your brand, streamline your business, and develop an understanding of which products your target market is interested in, you can expand.

But when starting your business and trying to determine your bestsellers, starting small is the way to go.

*Please remember, my advice is a suggestion. There isn’t a set rule or one way that works for every business. A business can be successful with one product or 20 products. But if you find yourself adding more and more to your product line in an attempt to sell to more people, you’ll find this strategy still offers a lot of options while staying focused.


Step 1: Start with One focus

Before you start building out your product line, it’s important to start with one purpose, theme, category/subcategory of products, niche, or target market. 

This ensures your product line will stay focused and encourage multiple sales (i.e. one customer buying multiple items in one transaction and/or one customer coming back to buy again and again).

Examples are:

  • Purpose: toxin-free cleaning products
  • Theme: farm animal themed art work
  • Category/subcategory: hair accessories
  • Target market: Grandparents
  • Niche: healing crystal jewelry

In most cases, a small craft business will need to use a combination to find an appropriate focus that helps their business stand out.

For example, if I choose a purpose, toxin-free cleaning products, that still leaves it open for a variety of products. I might offer facial cleansing products, shampoo/conditioner, home cleaning products, car cleaning products, etc.

So instead I might focus on:

  • Purpose: toxin-free cleaning products
  • Category: home cleaning products

If I’m just starting my business, I may even add another focus with a theme.

  • Theme: fruit scents

This clear focus ensures I stay on track, build a name for my business, and carve out a niche that allows my business to stand out.

If I stay focused as I develop products, my customers can stay focused when they shop with me.


Step 2: Choose 3 – 5 Products

Keeping your focus in mind (i.e. your purpose/theme/category/etc), choose 3 – 5 main products you’ll work with. 

These will be types of products, not variations of the same product.

For example:

If I’m selling toxin-free cleaning products, my 3 – 5 products might be:

  1. Kitchen cleaner
  2. Bathroom cleaner
  3. Glass cleaner
  4. Dish soap
  5. Laundry detergent

Product types

If I’m selling travel bags, my 3 – 5 products might be:

  1. Toiletry bag 
  2. Makeup bag
  3. Makeup brush bag

If I’m selling healing crystal jewelry, my 3 – 5 products might be:

  1. Necklaces
  2. Earrings
  3. Bracelets
  4. Rings


Step 3: Choose 3 – 5 Product Options (optional)

Building out your product line into different options, is optional. 

Not every product will need different options and depending on how many products you offer, adding 3 – 5 options in each may become overwhelming. 

If you feel you need to expand your product line beyond 3 – 5 types of products, you can offer each in 3 – 5 options. 

What an “option” is will depend on the type of product you sell. 

An option will take one product feature, and alter it. 

For example:

If I’m selling toxin-free cleaning products, product features are:

  • size
  • scent
  • ingredients
  • etc.

My 3 – 5 product options might focus on size and so I’d offer each product in:

  1. small
  2. medium
  3. large

Product options

If I’m selling a toiletry bag, product features are:

  • material
  • color
  • print
  • size
  • shape
  • etc.

I may offer each bag in 3 – 5 material/print options:

  1. stripes
  2. floral print
  3. polkadot

If I’m selling healing crystal jewelry, product features are:

  • metal (e.g. silver, gold, rose gold)
  • stone (e.g. rose quartz, amethyst, etc.)
  • healing property (e.g. courage, love, prosperity, etc.)
  • style (e.g. pendant necklace, choker, etc.)
  • etc.

I may offer each product in 3 style options:

  1. Necklaces:
    1. pendant necklace
    2. choker necklace
    3. layered necklace
  2. Earrings:
    1. hoop earrings
    2. stud earrings
    3. drop earrings
  3. Bracelets:
    1. stacked bracelet
    2. charm bracelet
    3. cuff bracelet
  4. Rings
    1. stacked ring
    2. wrapped ring
    3. solitaire ring


To avoid creating too much variation, stick to altering just one product feature. 


Step 4: Create 3 – 5 Product Collections (optional)

Again, you can stop at offering 3 – 5 product types in 3 – 5 options. This will provide you with a good selection. 

But if you want to build out your product line more, you can expand into collections. 

A collection will include all your products and their options, but focus on a specific theme.

You can get creative with your collection’s theme, as explained in this article: 5 Steps to Create a Product Collection that Sells

Or you may simply base a collection’s theme on a product feature (e.g. material, color, scent, etc.).

For example:

A toxin-free line of products may have a:

  1. Lemon scented collection
  2. Orange scented collection
  3. Grapefruit scented collection

Product Collection

My travel bag collections may be based on color:

  1. Pink collection
  2. Blue collection
  3. White collection

Each collection would consist of a toiletry bag in 3 material options, a makeup bag in 3 material options, and a makeup brush bag in 3 material options.

A line of healing crystal jewelry may be based on the healing crystal’s meaning/energy:

  1. Love collection (using rose quartz and moonstone)
  2. Courage collection (using amazonite and aquamarine)
  3. Prosperity collection (using jade)


Step 5: Add-ons (optional)

If you feel too limited sticking to 3 – 5 products, consider branching out under the “add-on” category of products. 

Add-on products are smaller/lower-priced items that will sit in your zone 3/checkout area and are easy for a customer to add to their purchase.

These shouldn’t take up much space on your craft show table, take too long for you to make, or distract shoppers from your main (3 – 5) products.

Add-on products should follow your product line’s focus. 

It’s also a good idea to stick within the 3 – 5 range for your add-on products

For example:

Add-on products for a line of travel bags might be:

  • luggage tags
  • sunglass cases
  • toiletry rollup cases

Add-on products for a line of cleaning products might be:

  • essential oil combinations for a diffuser
  • dryer balls
  • cleaning cloths

Add-on products for a line of healing crystal jewelry might be:

  • healing crystal keychains
  • healing crystal pins
  • healing cufflinks

These are all smaller items that could be made from leftover supplies and/or made for very little cost. 

They’re also items that work with the main products, so customers are likely to add them to their purchase without hesitation.


Assess your product line

As you can see, staying within the 3 – 5 guideline offers a lot of variation for shoppers to choose from, while keeping your product line focused. 

Cleaning product line:

>> 5 products in 3 options each and 3 collections = 45 different products for shoppers to choose from.

Bag product line:

>> 3 products in 3 options and 3 collections = 27 different products for shoppers to choose from.

Jewelry product line:

>> 4 products in 3 options and 3 collections = 36 different products for shoppers to choose from.



Please let me know in the comment section if you have any questions!


How To Develop a Product Line


Finally understand why your hard work isn't resulting in more sales

Join over 18,000 others and sign up for the
Made Urban newsletter

Powered by ConvertKit
Previous Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *