What Is A Product Life Cycle? (Definition and Examples)

For those who work in gross sales and advertising, realizing concerning the Product Life Cycle mannequin is sort of necessary. The mannequin describes the levels a product goes via in its journey from creation to discontinuation.

Why do you should know this?

As a result of it helps you perceive why some merchandise are solely in style for just a few years and others by no means lose attraction. Merchandise in numerous levels of the cycle additionally demand totally different advertising methods, be that for bodily merchandise or for companies.

Perceive the Product Life Cycle and you’ll be capable of preserve merchandise recent and related for longer. You’ll be capable of stave off decline, making certain your merchandise generate as a lot income as potential.

On this article, we’ll enable you perceive the cycle, its levels, examples, and the best way to make use of this idea. So make certain to learn this text till the tip!

What Is the Product Life Cycle?

The Product Life Cycle is a administration device that makes it potential to research how a product behaves from its improvement to its withdrawal from the market. It covers each stage of progress, from launch via to adoption, and gross sales maturity.

It is sort of a product journey, or to seek advice from a extra well-known instance in advertising, the shopper journey.

The thoughts behind this idea is Theodore Levitt, a German economist who lived in america and labored on the celebrated Harvard Enterprise Faculty.

Levitt proposed a five-stage mannequin that he named the Product Life Cycle.

The levels are improvement, introduction, progress, maturity, and decline.

Earlier than I clarify every of them, it’s attention-grabbing to know why Levitt thought defining this mannequin could be helpful.

Throughout his analysis, he found one thing that appears apparent however hadn’t been mapped till then: the traits of a product change lots throughout its life cycle.

All of the methods surrounding a product want to think about the precise points and traits of every of those levels.

This is applicable to gross sales and advertising, but in addition to product improvement and decision-making within the administration sphere.

For instance, when is the suitable second to speculate so a product explodes out there?

When is it time to step on the brakes and possibly even substitute an merchandise that was very profitable with one thing new?

These are the questions you’ll be able to reply with a Product Life Cycle evaluation.

A Word on Product Life Cycle Levels

Earlier than I describe every of the Product Life Improvement Cycle levels under, it’s vital to notice that some definitions have totally different numbers of levels. Some have 4 and ignore the event part. Others have six and embody a saturation part. Levitt’s authentic diagram has 4 levels, however I’m going so as to add an introduction part between his improvement and progress levels.

That’s as a result of there are lots of of merchandise which have completed a improvement part and been launched to market, however by no means catch on and begin rising. When they’re first launched to the market, some merchandise — notably revolutionary ones — want very particular advertising methods to assist them attain the expansion stage. Ignoring this truth could hamper your product advertising efforts.

The 5 Levels of the Product Life Cycle

A chart showing the four stages of product lifecycle.
A chart showing the four stages of product life cycle, highlighting the maturity stage.

It’s time to discover extra deeply the Product Life Cycle mannequin.

Now that we all know the levels, we’ll the traits of every of them, and additionally the very best practices to achieve your marketing goals.

1. Improvement Section of the Product Life Cycle

Product improvement is at all times a leap into the unknown. Firms can spend thousands and thousands of {dollars} on product analysis and improvement, however there’s no assure the product launch might be profitable.

At this stage, corporations are spending cash on the product with out corresponding income. Proposals are made, checks carried out, hypotheses validated, and adjustments applied.

This stage is of course built-in into the method of startup corporations however isn’t restricted to them. For instance, an vehicle producer received’t launch a brand new automotive with out first having an intensive venture improvement part. The one distinction is that established corporations are capable of fund this part from income generated by different merchandise.

To present you a real-life instance, let’s have a look at the gathering of leggings for dogs that Walkee Paws launched in 2018.

A dog wearing leggings from Walkee Paws.

Given the revolutionary nature of this product, we are able to think about that this launch was preceded by cautious planning and analysis, which resulted within the form of the items, the fabric used, and the patterns chosen.

There may have been some preliminary promotional efforts, too. When a product is in improvement, it doesn’t require intensive gross sales efforts, however some stage of promotion could also be required if the product is new.

Think about the success potential of a advertising marketing campaign from Walkee Paws saying this novelty to devoted canine lovers. It may contain teasing posts on social networks, producing curiosity, and encouraging engagement. There may be press releases, billboards, and even interactive campaigns on the streets.

The actual fact is that the corporate should think about all this even in the course of the improvement stage.

2. Introduction Section of the Product Improvement Life Cycle

After you have created a product and it’s prepared for launch, you progress into the introduction part of the Product Life Cycle.

Launching a brand new product is a big advertising endeavor. You’ll must carve out a goal market and make investments considerably to succeed in them with broad consciousness campaigns. TV adverts are a well-liked selection at this stage. You solely must activate a TV for a couple of minutes to see adverts for a brand new taste of soda, a distinct motorbike mannequin, and a smartphone that guarantees new and superior options.

It’s no accident that this stage of the Product Improvement Life Cycle is the one which calls for probably the most advertising funding from the corporate. In truth, it’s not unusual to be within the crimson at this stage, even when gross sales are already trickling in. Prices might be even bigger in case you are the primary firm bringing a brand new product to market. First movers could have a bonus, however they pay for it financially. It’s why many corporations wait till a market has already been established earlier than launching a brand new product.

Scale back prices by defining the target audience and persona that represents the best buyer profile on your merchandise.

This train makes it potential to optimize your advertising investments, utilizing the suitable platforms to convey the very best message and attain the precise viewers you need.

You may as well use inbound advertising to succeed in early adopters.

3. Progress Section of the Product Life Cycle

The subsequent stage is the expansion stage. By now, gross sales of your product ought to be hovering and it’ll begin turning into a longtime product out there.

In fact, your success will entice rivals. The velocity at which rivals react will rely available on the market you’ve entered. In a crowded market, rivals will react quick. If the market is uncrowded, nevertheless, you might be able to proceed to develop with out a lot competitors.

Inevitably, nevertheless, you will want to proceed investing closely in advertising to proceed progress.

Regardless that you’re experiencing progress, many corporations nonetheless fail at this stage and their merchandise’ gross sales decline with out having ever skilled maturity.

You may bear in mind a beer model that made enjoyable TV adverts with a brief and chubby actor with a mustache because the protagonist. For a very long time, it was one of many main manufacturers, and the commercials generated feedback on the one social community in existence again then: word-of-mouth. The product remains to be out there, and there is no such thing as a information of adjustments to its system, nevertheless it was swallowed by the sturdy competitors within the trade.

So the lesson is obvious: if a product is within the progress stage, it is very important have a technique to maintain it there at the same time as new rivals begin preventing for its viewers.

4. Maturity Section of the Product Life Cycle

Maturity is the height and the very best level of the cycle. It’s when the product reaches its most potential and gross sales and begins to stabilize. That doesn’t imply your gross sales received’t develop, you simply received’t expertise the identical speedy ranges of progress as earlier than.

That will sound disappointing, however this stage comes with loads of advantages. You’ll have undoubtedly change into way more environment friendly, which is able to result in lowered manufacturing prices. You may as well spend much less on advertising since you’ve a longtime market.

The problem at this stage is to keep up good outcomes and proceed to beat your rivals.

There isn’t a easy solution to make this occur, nevertheless it’s essential you are taking motion. All of the well-known manufacturers you’ll be able to consider are the place they’re at this time as a result of they invested on this stage.

For instance, Coca-Cola doesn’t cease promoting though it “doesn’t rely on advertising.” The corporate understands that manufacturers are usually not perpetually, being topic to market instabilities and behavioral adjustments within the viewers.

5. Decline Section of the Product Life Cycle

Ultimately, even probably the most established merchandise see their income dry up and reputation wane. It’s attention-grabbing to think about the tip of an organization like Coca-Cola, an organization with over 100 years of existence and a lot monetary success.

However even Coca-Cola will finish at some point. Possibly not the corporate, maybe, however its important product. This may take 100, 200, and even 1000 years. It’s unattainable to foretell. However each product reaches the tip and concludes its life cycle.

When that occurs, the corporate should acknowledge the painful reality proven in its performance indicators and take one among a number of choices. You possibly can select to discontinue the product, discover a new use for it, promote the product or firm, or faucet into a brand new market by creating a brand new product.

Rigorously weigh the prices and advantages related to every possibility. There is no such thing as a disgrace in retiring a product, particularly if your organization is already investing in new, revolutionary merchandise to launch.

Why It’s Vital to Perceive the Product Life Cycle

For those who’ve made it this far, you hopefully perceive the idea of the Product Improvement Life Cycle and the traits of every of its levels. You also needs to perceive why it’s vital to use this mannequin to what you are promoting.

To get rid of any questions, listed here are the primary benefits and advantages of what adherence to the mannequin can do:

  • permit decision-making with higher help
  • optimize advertising investments
  • qualify gross sales efforts
  • supply extra management over outcomes
  • give higher long-term strategic planning
  • supply higher group and course of administration
  • present extra longevity for merchandise
  • give extra applicable preparation to face competitors
  • main the market turns into a possible objective

What Elements Have an effect on the Product Life Cycle?

There are loads of issues in your energy you are able to do to affect how your product strikes via the product life cycle. Sadly, there are additionally loads of issues you’ll be able to’t management that can affect how your product performs.

Market Competitiveness

Aggressive markets could be very exhausting to enter and could imply your product struggles to get out of the introduction part. Boundaries to entry play a task. Whereas it could be tougher to enter a market with excessive obstacles to entry, your product will most likely have a protracted life cycle if it turns into established. The identical will not be true for markets with low obstacles to entry that make it simpler for rivals to repeat your product.

Financial Forces

Generally the world will transpire to work in opposition to your product. A recession or world pandemic can reduce a cycle brief. It will probably additionally introduce speedy adjustments in client conduct that may affect your product’s life.

Modifications in Know-how

Fast adjustments in know-how can drastically shorten the product life cycle — particularly when you’re unable to adapt. Simply have a look at how the web and video streaming destroyed Blockbuster.

There’s not a lot you are able to do if an individual or firm invents a brand new know-how or a dramatically higher method of doing one thing. All you are able to do is react as finest you’ll be able to.

H​​ow to Use the Product Life Cycle to Enhance Your Advertising Methods and Prolong Your Product’s Life

Step one to utilizing the Product Life Cycle to enhance your marketing strategy is to know what stage you might be in. By understanding every stage of the cycle and evaluating them together with your product’s efficiency, you’ll be able to precisely establish the place your product lies.

Set up Authority Early

Establishing authority is essential in the course of the introduction part. Whether or not you might be positioning your product as a less expensive, simpler, or extra environmentally-friendly different, it’s key to get this throughout in your messaging. The higher you are able to do this, the faster you’ll be able to attain the expansion part and the longer you need to keep there.

Tailor Your Pricing Technique

Your pricing technique ought to be fluid and tailor-made to the precise a part of the life cycle your product sits in. For instance, chances are you’ll need to supply decrease costs within the early levels, increase costs in the course of the progress and maturity levels, and then decrease costs once more in the course of the decline.

Tailoring your pricing could assist your product proceed to develop. For instance, reductions are an effective way to increase the longevity of a product and encourage much more folks to purchase it.

Introduce New Options

Merchandise that don’t innovate by introducing new options received’t continue to grow for lengthy. Quickly the market will saturate and they may decline. Figuring out this, you need to make investments closely in new options in the course of the progress and maturity phases of the product lifecycle. In doing so, you’ll be able to expertise speedy progress over again.

The iPhone is a superb instance of this. Continuous funding in digicam high quality, display screen dimension, and even the App Retailer has allowed the product to continue to grow. Even the best way Apple has developed the positioning of the iPhone has led to sustained progress. By specializing in privateness, one thing that hasn’t modified the bodily options of the product in any respect, Apple has been capable of carve out a brand new market.

What Are the Limitations of the Product Life Cycle?

The largest criticism of the product life cycle is that it doesn’t predict how lengthy every stage lasts. Because of this, you’ll be able to’t use the totally different levels to forecast gross sales with any nice accuracy.

What’s extra, some merchandise take considerably longer to say no than others.

Lastly, product life cycle levels danger turning into one thing of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Anticipating that their merchandise could quickly decline, product managers could cease giving them their full consideration, thereby bringing about their decline.

Does the Product Life Cycle Solely Apply to Merchandise?

That is an attention-grabbing query concerning the mannequin.

On one hand, the concept that the cycle works higher for bodily merchandise is right contemplating its traits. Then again, it’s potential to be artistic and take into consideration diversifications of the mannequin.

Let’s take a big firm with subsidiaries in numerous cities for instance.

Every one among these models could also be thought-about a product when making use of the Product Improvement Life Cycle mannequin; all you need to do is analyze every one’s efficiency individually.

One other instance is an organization with many manufacturers, every with its personal merchandise.

To know this higher, check out the Procter & Gamble website, the place you will notice that the corporate has a number of energetic manufacturers within the USA market.

The homepage of Proctor & Gamble.

During which stage of the cycle is every of those manufacturers? Are they planning new manufacturers which are at present within the improvement stage?

To conclude, let’s have a look at one other instance.

Might companies substitute merchandise within the mannequin proposed by Theodore Levitt?

Relying on the exercise the corporate performs, that is completely potential. Let’s take into consideration a house renovation firm, for instance.

It might supply a fantastic number of building companies, corresponding to putting in flooring and tiles, portray, plastering, offering electrical and hydraulic works, masonry, and extra.

When utilizing the Product Life Cycle methodology, you’ll be able to observe the life cycle of every of those companies to evaluate the kind of funding every of them requires and the chances for returns in every case.

So no, the Product Life Cycle doesn’t simply apply to bodily merchandise.

Sensible Examples

How does the Product Life Cycle work in follow?

We’re going to try two cool examples to seek out out: Havaianas and Coca-Cola.

The Product Life Cycle of Havaianas

The Havaianas logo.
  • Improvement: the standard flip-flops have been impressed by Japanese sandals manufactured from wooden or straw; in Brazil, rubber was chosen as the fabric as a result of it was believed to have probably the most acceptance with the viewers.
  • Introduction: intentionally or not, its introduction out there was a fantastic success with lessons C, D, and E.
  • Progress: Havaianas flip-flops have been within the progress stage for many of their existence, finally dominating over 90% of the marketplace for flip-flops.
  • Maturity: maturity solely got here within the Nineteen Nineties, with new product design aimed toward a distinct viewers, and nice advertising funding, particularly with the now-classic TV adverts that have been enjoyable and at all times starred well-known actors.
  • Decline: as much as this second, there are not any indicators that Havaianas flip-flops could undergo this stage within the brief time period.

The Product Life Cycle of Coca Cola

The Coca Cola logo.
  • Improvement: little or no is thought concerning the improvement of Coca-Cola and how they created the mysterious system.
  • Introduction: by 1886, the yr of its basis, the model already appeared to have the suitable venture.
  • Progress: lower than ten years after its launch, Coca-Cola was already consumed in all U.S. states.
  • Maturity: it’s unattainable to say precisely when the model reached maturity, nevertheless it’s secure to say that it has spent most of its historical past till now on this stage.
  • Decline: since 2012, the web working income of Coca-Cola has fluctuated in the direction of reducing; whereas a small lower is inside what’s anticipated for the maturity stage, investments in advertising and new merchandise should proceed.

Product Life Cycle Vs. BCG Matrix

A product is born, grows, declines, and dies. Isn’t this mannequin the identical as that of the BCG Matrix? For those who considered that, you have been very astute.

The BCG Matrix is one other wonderful administration device, created by the Boston Consulting Group (the mannequin is called after their initials).

The BCG Matrix is similar to the Product Life Cycle, although there are some variations.

First, there are 4 as an alternative of 5 levels: Query Mark, Star, Money Cow, and Canine.

Second: these curious names relate to particular traits of the stage wherein the product is, not essentially analyzing your complete life cycle.

Are you confused? I’ll clarify.

Check out the desk under:

An example of the BCG Matrix from the Boston Consulting Group.

Query marks are new merchandise that don’t have a market but however have nice potential for progress.

Stars, because the identify signifies, are on the prime: they generate good income.

Money cows are the way forward for stars: their efficiency has peaked, however their decline is anticipated.

And canine are an issue: merchandise on the finish of the road, that now not promote nicely and are unlikely to recuperate their area.

Typically, query marks and stars demand advertising funding, money cows now not want funding and canine is not going to recuperate even with funding.


What is the Product Life Cycle?

The Product Life Cycle course of a product goes via from ideation via to being faraway from the cabinets.

What are the Levels of the Product Life Cycle?

There are 5 core levels within the Product Life Cycle: improvement, introduction, progress, maturity, decline. It’s vital to notice that some explanations will emit the event part to go away 4 levels. Others will embody a saturation part for a complete of six. Theodore Levitt’s preliminary diagram confirmed 4 levels, however we expect it’s vital to incorporate a improvement part given this stage’s distinctive challenges and the truth that some merchandise by no means get launched to market.

Why is Understanding the Product Life Cycle Vital?

Every stage of the method requires totally different methods and expectations. Figuring out the place your product is within the life cycle will help you efficiently promote it.


By now, you need to perceive the Product Life Cycle and the traits of every of its 5 levels. You additionally discovered ideas for creating an applicable technique for every of them and the best way to use the product life cycle to affect your selections — even when you’re a digital marketer and you aren’t promoting bodily items.

For those who want digital marketing assist all through any of the levels of the Product Life Cycle mannequin, our agency will help.

Now it’s time to dedicate your self to reaching maturity and extending it for so long as potential.

Talking of which, in what stage is your important product? Go away a remark and share the article!

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