Assessing and improving commonality and diversity within a product family

Fabrice Alizon, Steven B. Shooter, Timothy W. Simpson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


At a time when product differentiation is a major indicator of success in the global market, each company is looking to offer competitive and highly differentiated products. This differentiation issue is restricted by the design of platform-based products that share modules and/or components. It is not easy to differentiate products in a market that is often overwhelmed by numerous options. A platform-based approach can be risky because competition in the global market can become an internal competition among similar products within the family if there is not enough differentiation in the family. Thus, the goal for the product platform is to share elements for common functions and to differentiate each product in the family by satisfying different targeted needs. To assess commonality in the family, numerous indices have been proposed in the literature. Nevertheless, existing indices focus on commonality and reflect an increase in value when commonality increases but do not positively reflect an increase in the value as a result of diversity; hence, the commonality versus diversity index (CDI) is introduced in this paper to assess the commonality and diversity within a family of products or across families. The CDI has variable levels of depth analysis to help designers design or improve the product family. Two case studies using single-use cameras and power tool families highlight the usefulness of this new index.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-253
Number of pages13
JournalResearch in Engineering Design
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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