SKU over-proliferation is one of my pet peeves since I was in charge of the product marketing for running shoes at Asics. (See my March 2013 newsletter for a longer exegesis on the epidemic of product line obesity.)
Apparently, I'm not alone on this bandwagon. Andy Mooney, the new CEO of Quiksilver, just announced that Quiksilver Women’s and Quiksilver Girl’s lines were cannibalizing sales of Roxy apparel and taking space away from men’s wear in its stores. As a result, both Quiksilver and Roxy are exiting the skate business and DC (another sub-brand) has exited surf. As Mooney says,
Having fewer, better products is better for the brand than having more, average products.
This is a decision that smart -- and lean -- companies are always willing to make. I've written before about the way that Jim Collins uses his "stop doing list," and many people have reported about the slash and burn approach Steve Jobs took to the Apple product line upon his return to the company. As Matt May reports, Jobs was always proudest of the thousands of things Apple said no to.
When people think of Lean, they often think about the drive to eliminate waste from processes and systems. It's important to remember that waste can creep into your products and services, too.