The concept of a product lifecycle is widely used in the marketing world as a planning tool. According to this concept, each product has a lifecycle which includes several stages which it goes through. At every stage, there are different challenges the marketers have to deal with to make sure the product gets through to the next stage. Hence, marketers can get the knowledge and understanding they need of how to make a product work in the market by adapting and using the product lifecycle.
As mentioned above, there are several stages but they haven’t been formally defined as yet. In fact, it is next to impossible to define these stages as the lifecycle for each product would be different. There are different factors which impact each product and also it is quite likely that the market conditions the product has to contend with are different as well. However, the stages can be outlined in a nutshell:
This is the pre-launch stage at which the product hasn’t been introduced into the market. It is the phase during which the product is honed and improved and brought into its final stage. In current business jargon, this would be the ‘beta testing’ stage. At this stage, the product is being prepared for the launch and at the same time the marketers are working towards preparing the market for the particular product.
This is the stage where the product is finally launched and introduced to the target market. Based on numerous factors, including the hype generated, publicity and marketing campaign, the product could start selling like hot cakes from the outset or take its time. It is quite possible that the sales move gradually upwards as more people get to know about the product. Patience is the name of the game for marketers at this stage.
This stage kicks in after the market accepts the product and people start developing an affinity for it. The long-term success of any product depends on how well it manages to retain customers and growth is interlinked to this. Hence, growth might be rapid or steady, depending on well-liked the product actually is.
Maturity is the point at which the sales of the product reach a plateau and stop increasing. There is a ceiling for the maximum sales level for any product. After all, you cannot expect the sales level of any product to keep growing, unless it is a necessity. Make no mistake, growth might be there but it would be small.
This is the stage at which customers see no value in continuing to buy the product. Either a substitute comes in and takes its place or the price has increased to a point where most of the target market can’t afford it easily.
So, as you can see, there is a simple path to follow in the lifecycle for any product you are planning to launch. You can determine the steps you need to take for marketing it at any given stage after analyzing what is happening in the market. Needless to say, planning becomes much easier when you use the product lifecycle concept.