Remember the iPod? The arrival of the little hand-held MP3 player completely revolutionized the way that we listened to music. When Steve Jobs unveiled the magical device in 2001 that could hold 1000 songs, people were amazed. Till then, clunky CD players and earlier, cassette players were considered THE portable music player to have. The iPod changed everything. Fast forward to a little more than a decade later, the iPod has all but disappeared off the market. It was killed mostly by the introduction of the iPhone, in 2007. 

Since 2007, Apple has been constantly re-inventing the iPhone, offering it in different variants, trying hard to ensure their product does not go obsolete. As we are in the smartphone age, no one wants their product to become outdated, so understand what stage your product stands at, to make prudent marketing and business decisions. Staying nimble is key. Let us dive into the various stages of a product life cycle to understand this better.

What Is A Product Life Cycle? 

A product life cycle can be defined as the amount of time a product takes, from the introduction into the market to being withdrawn from it. In simpler terms, a product goes through a succession of stages, through its existence. Business owners and marketing managers depend on the product life cycle. Key decisions and strategies encompassing advertising budgets, product packaging, and pricing are affected by the product life cycle. 

What Are The Stages of The Product Life Cycle?

Development or Research Phase 

During this stage, groundwork is done even before the product’s market launch. From luring investors to testing prototypes for effectiveness, companies are running around trying to flesh out the concept of what’s on the drawing board. Expect huge spending sans any revenue during this period, because the product is still in a nascent stage of development. The product’s complexity, nature, and market competition affect the length ĺllof this stage. During this stage, marketers start creating some suspense and buzz by using influencers or bringing celebrities or industry leaders on board for endorsements, advertisements, etc. The ultimate goal of this stage is to create brand awareness and give out the impression of being an innovator. 

Product Introduction or Launch 

The first brush of your consumers with your product is in this stage. Sales might be low because demand takes time to build. During this stage, marketing teams spread product awareness, investing in ad and marketing campaigns, through various channels. Companies spend money on educating the customer about the product. Inbound and content marketing strategies are used to educate the public, so they know what they’re buying. The movement of the product from introduction to growth happens subject to its initial success in the market.

Product Growth 

This is the time to cash in on the effort over the last two stages. If you’ve done your groundwork, consumers will accept your product and your profits will grow accordingly. Unfortunately, competition also starts rearing its head during this time. Other firms see your success, and suddenly everyone wants the lion’s share of the market. Aggressive marketing campaigns during this period work hard at helping firms establish a brand presence, wanting to position themselves as superior to their competitors. New distribution channels open up, while simultaneously product features and support services grow.

Product Maturity 

Now, your firm’s been in the market for a while, and you notice the demand for your product falling and sales decreasing as a result. Marketers at this time bring down prices in an effort to stay above the competition. This period sees marketing campaigns transition from product awareness to product differentiation, highlighting certain features, giving discounts or freebies to customers, and multiplying distribution channels. Profits are good during this period, with decreasing production and increasing sales costs. While this period may seem like smooth sailing, it’s easy to be fooled into a lull. Companies need to keep efforts focused on product improvement, conveying this to their consumers too. 

Product Saturation 

The beginning of the end. Too much of anything isn’t good, even your product in the market. At this stage, competitors begin to encroach slowly, and your products seem stagnant. It is imperative at this stage to put in work to ensure your product remains the primary choice for consumers, as there are many options to choose from, and if that does not happen, your product will go into decline. Further differentiation in terms of product features, increased brand awareness, lowering of prices, and better customer support could ensure you stay ahead of competitors. At this stage, you would have gathered some customer success stories. Use them to garner trust and build goodwill. 

Product Decline 

This is the stage no product manager wants to find themselves in unless they are introducing something purposely to kill their own product. By this time, if your once much-beloved product does not stay the preferred brand in the marketplace, there might be a decline in sales, increased competition might eat up whatever little share is left, and your company might be in trouble. As new trends emerge, if you cannot keep up, you’ll be forced to discontinue, sell your company or innovate your product and re-launch it completely. If you find yourself in this situation, bank on nostalgia to establish your superiority over the competition. New advertising strategies, attractive pricing, and a re-imagined product could increase its attractiveness in the eyes of the consumer. 

As a company in the 21st century, it is impossible to escape from change, especially when it is occurring at such a blistering pace. 

Keeping up, let alone staying ahead of the competition is becoming hard for firms. In such cases, the key differentiating factor becomes the product’s effectiveness in solving consumer problems, and its longevity as well as the company’s customer service to address consumer concerns. 

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, marketers would do well to keep an eye on their product life cycle. Whether you are developing something new or working with an established entity, each stage impacts your strategy, brand positioning, and future moves. Investing in smarter marketing campaigns to stay unique, can help you maintain a higher ROI. Read our blog about how to set and achieve marketing objectives to remain a market leader and industry benchmark. If you like this article, explore our article on Social Audio here!


Rayomand Engineer

I am a writer based out of Kolkata, West Bengal, and I like to write on tech, politics, travel, music, environment, and wildlife amongst others. I’ve also written scripts for branded content, and also scripts for short films. I’ve been writing for more than a decade and I love it.