Basics of Product Life Cycle

Besides understanding the 4 P of marketing mix, another equally fundamental term commonly used in marketing line is “Product Life Cycle”

The following benefits might accrued if readers have a good understanding of the product life cycle concept:

  • it enables marketing managers to plan alternate marketing strategies to address the challenges that their products are likely to face and
  • is also useful for monitoring sales results over time and comparing them to those of products having a similar life cycle.

Before we delve further into the Product Life Cycle topic, we should basically understand some of the following common features:

  • Product life concept applies not only to a brand but also to a category of product.
  • Its duration may be as short as a few months for a fad item/product or a century or more for product categories such as the Coca-Cola.
  • Product development is the incubation stage of the product life cycle. There are no sales and the firm prepares to introduce the product. As the product progresses through its life cycle, changes in the marketing mix usually are required in order to adjust to the evolving challenges and opportunities.
  • Are basically broken down into Introduction Stage, Growth, Maturity and Decline Stage with its impact on the marketing mix.

It’s also important to understand some basic limitation of this concept namely:

  • we should not used this concept for the forecasting of product sales as product(s) life is not always well defined or predictable.
  • Over-reliance on product life cycle makes it self-fulfilling. If sales peak and then decline, managers may conclude that the product is in the decline phase and therefore cut the advertising budget, thus precipitating a further decline.

Append below details of each stage of Product Life Cycle whether in relation to its objectives, characteristics and its impact of the marketing mix.

INTRODUCTION Stage Of Product Life Cycle:


Objective: to establish a market and build primary demand for the product class/


Common features:

  • Sales will be low until customers become aware of the product and its benefits.
  • Some firms may announce their product before it is introduced.
  • Advertising and promotion costs typically are high to rapidly increase customer awareness of the product and to target the early adopters.
  • Likely to incur additional costs associated with the initial distribution of the product.
  • The aforesaid higher costs coupled with a low sales volume usually make the introduction stage a period of negative profits.


Impact on Marketing Mix


One or few products, relatively undifferentiated



Generally high, assuming a skim pricing strategy for a high profit margin as the early adopters buy the product and the firm seeks to recoup development costs quickly. In some cases a penetration pricing strategy is used and introductory prices are set low to gain market share rapidly.


Promotion/ Distribution


Distribution is selective and scattered as the firm commences implementation of the distribution plan.

Promotion is aimed at building brand awareness. Samples or trial incentives may be directed toward early adopters. The introductory promotion also is intended to convince potential resellers to carry the product.


GROWTH Stage Of Product Life Cycle:


Objective:- to gain consumer preference and increase sales. establish a market and build primary demand for the product class


Characteristics/features during this stage:

  • A period of rapid revenue growth. Sales increase as more customers become aware of the product and its benefits and additional market segments are targeted. Once the product has been proven a success and customers begin asking for it, sales will increase further as more retailers become interested in carrying it.
  • The marketing team may expand the distribution at this point.
  • When competitors enter the market, often during the later part of the growth stage, there may be price competition and/or increased promotional costs in order to convince consumers that the firm’s product is better than that of the competition.


Impact On Marketing Mix


Product – New product features and packaging options; improvement of product quality




Price – Maintained at a high level if demand is high, or reduced to capture additional customers.



Promotion/ Distribution


Distribution – Distribution becomes more intensive. Trade discounts are minimal if resellers show a strong interest in the product.

Promotion – Increased advertising to build brand preference.




MATURITY Stage Of Product Life Cycle:


Objective:-To maintain market share and extend the product life cycle.


Characteristics/features during this stage:

  • Sales continue to increase but at a slower pace.
  • Because brand awareness is strong, advertising expenditures will be reduced.
  • Competition may result in decreased market share and/or prices. The competing products may be very similar at this point, increasing the difficulty of differentiating the product.
  • The firm places effort into encouraging competitors’ customers to switch, increasing usage per customer, and converting non-users into customers.
  • Sales promotions may be offered to encourage retailers to give the product more shelf space over competing products.
  • The maturity stage is the most profitable


Impact on Marketing Mix


Modifications are made and features are added in order to differentiate the product from competing products that may have been introduced.




Possible price reductions in response to competition while avoiding a price war.



Promotion/ Distribution


New distribution channels and incentives to resellers in order to avoid losing shelf space.

Emphasis on differentiation and building of brand loyalty. Incentives to get competitors’ customers to switch.



DECLINE Stage Of Product Life Cycle:



During the decline phase, the firm generally has three options:

  • Maintain the product in hopes that competitors will exit. Reduce costs and find new uses for the product.
  • Harvest it, reducing marketing support and coasting along until no more profit can be made.
  • Discontinue the product when no more profit can be made or there is a successor product.


FEATURES during this stage:


  • Eventually sales begin to decline as the market becomes saturated
  • The product becomes technologically obsolete, or customer tastes change.
  • If the product has developed brand loyalty, the profitability may be maintained longer.
  • Unit costs may increase with the declining production volumes and eventually no more profit can be made.


Impact on Marketing MIx


The number of products in the product line may be reduced. Rejuvenate surviving products to make them look new again.


Prices may be lowered to liquidate inventory of discontinued products. Prices may be maintained for continued products serving a niche market.

Promotion/ Distribution

Distribution becomes more selective. Channels that no longer are profitable are phased out. Promotion – Expenditures are lower and aimed at reinforcing the brand image for continued products.


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