What’s the Difference Between Assortment and Variety? A Comprehensive Guide

Do you ever find yourself standing in a grocery store aisle, staring at the wall of chips, wondering what the difference is between “assortment” and “variety”? You’re not alone. These terms are often used interchangeably, but they actually have distinct meanings that can make a big difference when it comes to consumer preferences.

Assortment refers to the number of different types of a product available, like how many different types of chips a store carries. Variety, on the other hand, refers to the differences between those types. For example, a store might have a large assortment of potato chips, but a limited variety if most of those chips are just different flavors of the same brand.

Understanding the difference between these two terms can help businesses better meet the needs and wants of their customers. While a large assortment can be appealing, customers are often more interested in a variety of options to choose from. So, the next time you’re studying those bags of chips in the store, remember that it’s not just about the assortment – it’s about the variety.

Assortment Definition

Assortment refers to the range of products offered by a business, particularly in the retail industry. It defines the breadth of choices and options available to customers who visit a store or browse an online catalog.

Assortment is an essential aspect of marketing that can have significant impacts on a company’s sales and success. Offering a broad assortment can attract more customers, increase revenue, and boost the perceived value of a brand. On the other hand, a limited assortment can create a niche appeal and make a brand seem specialized or exclusive.

When it comes to retail assortment, businesses need to consider various factors to ensure they provide a range of products that appeals to their customers. For instance, they need to consider:

  • The preferences, needs, and lifestyles of their target customers.
  • The selling space available in the store or on the website.
  • The season, fashion trends, and other external factors that influence customer behavior.
  • The supply chain and logistics required to ensure products are available in the store or online at the right time.
  • The marketing strategy, pricing, and promotional efforts used to promote the assortment.

To provide a wide range of products, businesses strive to have a good mix of sizes, colors, styles, and prices within a product line. Assortment can be viewed as a combination of product depth and width.

Product Depth Product Width Description
Shallow Narrow A small selection of products within a particular category
Deep Narrow A wide selection of products within a particular category, such as a variety of different colors for the same item
Shallow Wide A limited selection of products across several categories
Deep Wide A wide selection of products across multiple categories, such as a department store that carries clothing, homeware, and electronics

Assortment is an ever-evolving aspect of a retail business. Companies need to regularly analyze sales data, customer insights, and industry trends to identify areas where they can increase their assortment and optimize their offerings to meet customer needs. A well-designed and executed assortment strategy can help businesses stand out in a crowded market and drive growth over the long term.

Variety definition

In the world of retail and merchandising, the term “variety” refers to the number of different categories of products available for sale. Simply put, variety is about offering a breadth of options within a specific product category or range that can cater to different needs, tastes, and preferences of customers.

  • For instance, a grocery store with a variety of fruits and vegetables will have different types of apples, oranges, berries, and other produce available for customers to choose from.
  • Similarly, a clothing store with a variety of shirts will offer different styles, designs, colors, and sizes to cater to the diverse preferences of its customers.
  • Variety can also apply to services, where businesses can offer different options or packages to cater to different customer needs, budgets, or preferences.

However, variety is not just about sheer quantity or number of options available. It is also about balancing the different options to ensure that customers can find what they are looking for easily without feeling overwhelmed or confused. Offering too many options can actually lead to decision paralysis and negatively impact the buying experience of customers.

In contrast to variety, “assortment” refers to the actual number of different products available for sale across different categories or ranges. For instance, a department store with a large assortment of products may offer clothing, electronics, furniture, home appliances, and other items.

Assortment Variety
Number of different types of products available for sale Number of different options available within a specific product category or range
Measures breadth of product offerings Measures depth of options within each product category

In essence, variety and assortment are both about offering customers a diverse range of options to cater to their needs and preferences. While assortment measures the breadth of product offerings, variety focuses on the depth of options within each product category. By effectively balancing both, businesses can create a superior shopping experience for their customers and improve their bottom line.

Examples of assortment in retail

In retail, assortment refers to the variety of products offered within a specific category of merchandise. Here are some examples of how assortment works in different types of retail:

  • Fashion retail: A clothing store with a wide assortment might offer everything from casual t-shirts and jeans to formal dresses and suits, as well as a variety of accessories like purses, shoes, and jewelry.
  • Grocery retail: A grocery store with a diverse assortment might stock a range of fresh produce, meats, dairy products, baked goods, and packaged foods, along with specialty items like organic, gluten-free, or ethnic foods.
  • Electronics retail: An electronics store with a broad assortment could carry a variety of devices like smartphones, laptops, tablets, cameras, and gaming consoles, as well as related accessories such as chargers, cases, and headphones.

Factors that influence assortment

The level of assortment that retailers offer can be influenced by several factors, including:

  • Customer demand: Retailers will tend to offer more products in categories that are in high demand or that their target customer base is interested in.
  • Competitive landscape: Retailers need to differentiate themselves from competitors and offering a unique assortment can be a way to stand out in the market.
  • Seasonal trends: Retailers will often adjust their assortment to reflect seasonal changes, like offering more swimsuits in the summer or holiday-themed products in December.

The difference between assortment and variety

While assortment refers to the number of different product categories offered within a store or section, variety refers to the number of options offered within each category. For example, a store might have a broad assortment of shoes, with separate sections for athletic, casual, and dress shoes. Within the dress shoes section, there might be a variety of styles, colors, sizes, and materials to choose from.

Assortment Variety
A store offers clothing, electronics, and home goods The clothing section offers shirts, pants, dresses, and more
A grocery store has a large selection of fresh produce, meats, and dairy products The produce section has a variety of fruits, vegetables, and organic options

Overall, the right assortment and variety can help retailers meet the needs and preferences of their customers, attract new business, and compete effectively in the marketplace.

Examples of Variety in Retail

In retail, variety refers to the different categories of products offered within a particular store or brand. A well-curated selection of products can be a deciding factor for customers when choosing where to shop. Here are some examples of variety in retail:

  • Multi-Brand Retailers: These are stores that carry products from multiple brands and categories under one roof. Examples include department stores like Macy’s and Target.
  • Private Label Brands: These are products that are created and sold exclusively by a specific retailer or brand. Private label brands offer customers unique products that are not available elsewhere.
  • Product Line Extensions: Companies often introduce new variations of an existing product to cater to different customer needs and preferences. For example, a skincare brand might offer different formulations for different skin types.

Product variety can also be seen in the way retailers display their products. For instance, supermarkets often group together related products in the same aisle to make it easy for customers to find what they need. Additionally, retailers can create unique shopping experiences by offering exclusive products or collaborations with other brands. For example, designer collaborations with fast fashion brands like H&M and Target attract customers looking for high-end fashion at an affordable price.

In order to stay competitive and relevant, retailers need to constantly innovate and offer new products that appeal to their target audience. By strategically diversifying their product offerings, retailers can meet the changing needs of their customers and stay ahead of the competition.

Retailer Product Variety
Target Multi-Brand Retailer
Trader Joe’s Private Label Brands
Lululemon Product Line Extensions

As seen in the table above, successful retailers use a combination of these strategies to provide a wide range of products for their customers.

Benefits of offering assortment in retail

As a retailer, offering a variety of products to customers is an essential aspect of the business. However, some retailers interchange assortments with variety, and this can hinder a business’s growth. To better understand the benefits of offering assortment, let’s delve into the difference between assortment and variety.

The difference between assortment and variety

  • Assortment refers to a range of products that differ in style, type, and brand. An assortment provides customers with multiple options in a specific category of products and gives customers personalized experiences.
  • Variety, on the other hand, refers to a range of products that fall under different categories. It is a broader way of providing customers with more options to choose from in multiple categories of products.

Offering an array of products in retail is vital as it helps to attract and retain customers. However, having an assortment, as opposed to variety, provides several benefits that can boost the business’s profitability and growth. Here are some of the benefits of offering assortment in retail.

Benefits of offering assortment in retail

1. Customer satisfaction

Customers prefer stores that provide a variety of options in any given product category. Retailers can increase customer satisfaction by offering targeted assortments that cater to each customer’s unique needs. Providing customers with personalized choices increases their satisfaction level, making them more likely to return to the store and spread the word to others. Happy customers equal more loyal customers and brand advocacy.

2. Increased sales

Having an assortment provides a retailer with an opportunity to upsell products since there are multiple options in one place. Customers can choose from a wide range of products in a specific category and have a more tailored shopping experience that leads to increased sales. This can translate into more revenue as customers tend to buy more than one item when they have more variety to choose from.

3. Reduced inventory turnover

Assortments give retailers an opportunity to sell specific items more quickly by providing targeted options. Retailers can use their inventory more efficiently by identifying which items are selling well and offering more of those items in the assortment. Offering an assortment ensures that retailers are using their resources effectively and reducing the chances of keeping goods in stock for too long.

4. Improved customer loyalty

Providing customers with a personalized shopping experience with a wide range of products builds loyalty and creates returning customers. Customers who can find what they are looking for quickly and easily are more likely to return to the same store as it meets their specific needs. As such, having an assortment can create an emotional connection to the brand leading to more repeat business.

Assortment vs. Variety: Looking at the Numbers

Assortment Variety
Level of competition Low High
Sales revenue High Medium
Customer satisfaction High Low

5. Competitive Advantage

Offering targeted assortments that appeal to specific customers provides retailers with a competitive advantage over their competition. While variety focuses on providing as many options as possible, Assortment offers a more personalized shopping experience, which gives retailers a unique selling point. An assortment can provide retailers with the opportunity to stand out while catering to the needs of specific customers in the market. This can result in increased brand recognition, customer loyalty, and overall profitability.

As it’s clear, there are many benefits to offering a range of products in retail. By understanding the difference between an assortment and variety, retailers can cater to their customer’s specific needs and wants, leading to increased customer loyalty, growing revenues, and standing out from competitors.

Benefits of offering variety in retail

Retail businesses face intense competition, and it is crucial to differentiate yourself from your peers to succeed in the market. One of the most effective ways to do so is by offering a wide variety of products to customers. Here are some of the benefits of providing variety in your retail business:

  • Increased customer satisfaction: Offering a broad range of products ensures that customers find what they need, which leads to greater satisfaction.
  • Better customer retention: Satisfied customers are more likely to return to your store, which leads to better customer retention and a bigger customer base.
  • Gaining a competitive edge: Providing customers with a wide range of choices can help you gain an advantage over your competitors.

However, it is essential to note that there is a difference between offering variety and offering assortment in retail. Variety refers to offering multiple options under a particular product category, while assortment refers to providing options across different product categories. Understanding this difference is crucial as it can help you optimize your retail store’s inventory and better meet the needs of your customers.

The benefits of offering variety in retail: a closer look

Let us take a more in-depth look at the advantages of offering variety in your retail business.

Increased customer satisfaction: Every customer has their unique preferences, and they want to shop for products that fit their choices. Offering a broad range of products ensures that customers can find what they are looking for, leading to greater satisfaction. Moreover, having options ensures that customers do not feel limited, which in turn, gives them a sense of freedom and control. For instance, if you are running a fashion store and have a wide range of shoes, clothes, and accessories, customers are likely to find products that fit their size, style, and budget, enhancing their shopping experience and satisfaction.

Better customer retention: Customers are more likely to return to stores where they feel a connection and appreciation. Providing variety shows that you value their interests and needs, which leads to customer loyalty. Additionally, satisfied customers are more likely to recommend your store to their friends and family, leading to increased word-of-mouth referrals and growth for your business.

Gaining a competitive edge: With so many retail businesses in the market, it is crucial to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Offering a wide array of products is one of the best ways to stand out. For instance, if you offer a broad range of premium products, customers who value quality and luxury will flock to your store, giving you a competitive edge over stores that only offer standard products.

The difference between variety and assortment in retail

It is essential to understand the difference between variety and assortment in retail, as it can help you make better decisions regarding your inventory. Variety refers to offering multiple options under a particular product category. For instance, if you are running a shoe store, offering shoes in different colors, designs, and materials constitutes variety.

Variety in a shoe store
Product category Types of variety
Shoes Color, design, material

Assortment refers to providing options across different product categories. For instance, if you are running a department store, offering clothes, shoes, electronics, groceries, and other products under one roof constitutes an assortment.

Assortment in a department store
Product category Types of assortment
Clothes Shirts, pants, dresses, etc.
Shoes Sneakers, boots, sandals, etc.
Electronics Computers, phones, TVs, etc.
Groceries Fruits, vegetables, snacks, etc.

Providing variety and assortment in your retail business can help you meet the unique needs of your customers, which leads to greater satisfaction, customer retention, and a competitive edge in the market.

How to strike a balance between assortment and variety in retail

Assortment and variety are vital components in retail, and both are necessary to achieve success in the industry. Assortment refers to the number of different product categories available in a store, while variety relates to the breadth of products within each category. Striking a balance between the two is crucial for creating a desirable shopping experience for customers. Below are some tips on how to maintain that balance:

  • Understand your target market: Know your customers’ preferences and needs. This information can help you determine which product categories and items to carry in your store.
  • Offer a mix of staple and trendy products: Have a range of products that never go out of style, along with products that follow the latest trends.
  • Monitor inventory: Regularly review your inventory to determine which products are selling and which aren’t. Use this data to adjust your assortment and variety accordingly.

One way to balance assortment and variety is to use a category management approach. Category management is the process of organizing products into meaningful groups to create the best shopping experience for customers. The approach involves analyzing sales data, buying trends, and customer demographics to make informed decisions about product assortment and variety.

Below is an example of how category management can be used to balance assortment and variety:

Category Assortment Variety
Footwear Athletic, dress, casual, boots Brands, colors, sizes, styles
Clothing Men’s, women’s, children’s Seasonal items, colors, sizes, styles
Accessories Jewelry, handbags, belts, scarves Colors, styles, prices, materials

By using a category management approach, you can offer a wide variety of products while ensuring that each category has a focused assortment. This approach allows you to present products in a clear and organized manner, which can make the shopping experience more enjoyable for customers. Remember, maintaining a balance between assortment and variety is key to keeping customers happy and coming back to your store.

What’s the Difference Between Assortment and Variety?


Q: What does assortment mean when talking about products?
A: Assortment refers to the number of different product lines or categories available within a store or brand. For example, a department store might have a large assortment of clothing, shoes, accessories, and beauty products.

Q: How does variety differ from assortment?
A: Variety refers to the number of options or choices available within a single product line or category. For example, a grocery store might have a variety of apple types, such as Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, and Red Delicious.

Q: Can a store have a large assortment but a small variety?
A: Yes, it’s possible. A store might have a large assortment of different product lines but only a few options within each individual product line, resulting in a smaller variety overall.

Q: Is one concept better than the other?
A: It depends on the context. A store might prioritize having a large assortment to attract a wider range of customers, while another store might prioritize having a large variety within a single product line to cater to specific customer preferences.

Q: How do assortment and variety affect the consumer experience?
A: Both assortment and variety can impact the consumer experience. A larger assortment might make a store feel more comprehensive and attract more customers, while a larger variety within a specific product line might make customers feel more satisfied with their purchase.

Closing Thoughts

Thanks for reading our article on the difference between assortment and variety! Don’t forget that while these terms may seem similar, they play different roles in the world of retail and product marketing. Keep an eye out next time you’re shopping and see if you can notice how assortment and variety affect your decision-making. Visit again for more helpful articles!