Riding the Product Lifecycle

Standard Product Lifecycle CurveDid you know that the majority of products have a lifecycle? That graph over on the left illustrates how sales volume varies during the various phases.

What you may not appreciate is that sales and marketing requirements differ depending on where your products are within their lifecycle.

In the Development and Introduction stages, you need to provide evidence that the product will actually do what you say it will.  This can be in the form of:

  • Site trials
  • Performance data
  •  How performance characteristics are determined

…and so on. This is particularly important if you are introducing new technology – your target markets need to be reassured about the capabilities of what you are asking them to buy.

It is likely that credible competitors will start appearing during the Growth stage as you have ‘broken the ground’ for them and established the willingness of the market to buy.  Your strategy and tactics should now be focused on defending your market position against the competition.  Don’t turn it into a price war because you will only engage in a race to the bottom.  During this phase it is critical to develop more specific benefits closely aligned to your company and product capabilities.  The general benefits used to launch the product will be less relevant because the competition will also be claiming them.

As you move into the Maturity phase, you should be thinking about ways in which to refresh the product, maybe taking advantage of new technology to enhance the performance, maybe looking at redesign or ‘add-ons’ to extend the life.  Take advantage of your installed base to find out what people like, don’t like or would like in addition.

If you get this right, you can extend the lifecycle for a time but not indefinitely.

Extended Product Lifecycle Curve

When your product finally enters the Decline phase you should be looking at an orderly exit – how will existing customers be supported in the future, what replacement products or technologies can you either supply or recommend to them?  The key is to keep them happy so that they will continue to buy from you.

So there you have a brief guide to the product lifecycle. What methods have you used to extend the life of your products?

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