I'm writing an inventory management application that distinguishes between a product (e.g., Coca Cola) and its different "variants" you can buy (e.g., 330 ml can, 500 ml bottle etc.).

What is the proper word for these "variants"? It needs to be expressive yet general enough to be suitable for all kinds of products.


More examples of what I'm looking for:

  • Product: Kingston DataTraveler SE9 USB drive
    • "Variants":
      • 8GB
      • 16GB
      • 32GB
  • Product: Dell E6430 Battery
    • "Variants":
      • 4-cell
      • 6-cell
      • 9-cell
  • 2
    "Variant" is certainly in common use for what you are doing. Google search for [ erp variants ] and you will see that JD Edwards uses it. – MetaEd Jul 1 '16 at 18:12
  • 4
    In some contexts "SKU" is meaningful -- retailer talk for "size/kind unit". – Hot Licks Jul 1 '16 at 18:52
  • 1
    @HotLicks thank you, SKU is what I'm looking for, though it means "stock keeping unit": en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stock_keeping_unit – Botond Balázs Jul 1 '16 at 19:03
  • 3
    SKU = size/kind unit goes back to maybe 1960 -- the dawn of retail computerization. "Stock keeping unit" is a backronym. – Hot Licks Jul 2 '16 at 1:10
  • 1
    SKU is totally the right answer for this, you should write it up @HotLicks – Max Williams Aug 1 '16 at 13:26


one of the many different ways or forms in which something exists or can be arranged


This could refer to the subset of "product" in your Coca-Cola example, each drink size for each flavor (regular/diet/cherry) would be a permutation of Coca-Cola's product line.

For a specific business concept though, these permutations are often called "SKU's" or "Stock Keeping Units" which is an inventory management term that distinguishes each product from each other based on any differing product specifications. It is considered the smallest inventory unit that can be purchased or sold. In your USB drive example, each product storage size would have its own SKU applied.


I know people have already suggested much fancier words (which also work), but I would just call them "different models."

I think it wound sound fine to say something like, "The 16 GB model has enough space, but the 8 GB model does not." They also have different model numbers.

Here is the relevant definition of model (from Webster's):

a particular type or version of a product (such as a car or computer)


Edition (M-W)

a particular version of a product

The Kingston DataTraveler SE9 USB drive comes in 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB editions

  • Is this also appropriate for different colors of the same T-shirt? – Botond Balázs Jul 1 '16 at 18:35
  • 2
    No, probably not. Is that the actual type of product, and specific feature thereof, that you are trying to describe? If so, your initial question is probably misleading. Honestly, in that case, you're not going to get anything more appropriate than "colors". If you're looking for something generic enough to encompass all types of phrases such as "color", "size", "capacity", etc., then I think you have it in "variant". In software design, I would think "variant" would be a base class and "color", "size", and "capacity" would be sub-classes based on "variant" if that makes a difference. – vynsane Jul 1 '16 at 18:53
  • Yes, you are right. For a T-shirt, the combination of (color, size) would define an edition or a variant. – Botond Balázs Jul 1 '16 at 19:02

I recommend, using "variant" itself.


noun something that is slightly different from other similar things

"There are many colas on the market now, all variants on the original drink."
"There are four variants of malaria, all transmitted to humans by a particular family of mosquitoes."

From Vocabulary,

A variant is another version of something. You could say chimps and apes and gorillas are variants in the primate family.

Usage example:

"Trudeau will appear on the variant cover of Marvel’s Civil War II: Choosing Sides #5, slated for release at the end of August."The Guardian Jun 28, 2016

Product Item VariantProduct Structure and Assembly Management

An object that is a specific representation of a product item. A product item can have one or more product item variants associated with it.

For example, in a product structure for a mountain bike, the product item Wheel has the product item variants Aluminum and Steel associated with it.


I'd say you are talking about a product range.

It is a commercial concept:

  1. A set of variations of the same product platform that appeal to different market segments.
  2. A complete portfolio of products that a company manufactures and/or markets.


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