Product Life Cycle Explained: Stage and Examples


What Is the Product Life Cycle?

The time period product life cycle refers back to the size of time from when a product is launched to customers into the market till it is faraway from the cabinets. This idea is utilized by administration and by advertising and marketing professionals as a think about deciding when it’s applicable to extend promoting, cut back costs, develop to new markets, or redesign packaging. The method of strategizing methods to constantly help and keep a product known as product life cycle administration.

Key Takeaways

  • A product life cycle is the period of time a product goes from being launched into the market till it is taken off the cabinets.
  • There are 4 phases in a product’s life cycle—introduction, development, maturity, and decline.
  • An organization usually incurs increased advertising and marketing prices when introducing a product to the market however experiences increased gross sales as product adoption grows.
  • Gross sales stabilize and peak when the product’s adoption matures, although competitors and obsolescence could trigger its decline.
  • The idea of product life cycle helps inform enterprise decision-making, from pricing and promotion to growth or cost-cutting.

How the Product Life Cycle Works

Merchandise, like individuals, have life cycles. The life cycle of a product is damaged into 4 phases—introduction, development, maturity, and decline.

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A product begins with an thought, and inside the confines of contemporary enterprise, it is not prone to go additional till it undergoes analysis and growth (R&D) and is discovered to be possible and doubtlessly worthwhile. At that time, the product is produced, marketed, and rolled out. Some product life cycle fashions embody product growth as a stage, although at this level, the product has not but been dropped at clients.

As talked about above, there are 4 typically accepted phases within the life cycle of a product. Listed here are particulars about every one.

Introduction Stage

The introduction section is the primary time clients are launched to the brand new product. An organization should typically features a substantial funding in promoting and a advertising and marketing marketing campaign targeted on making customers conscious of the product and its advantages, particularly whether it is broadly unknown what the merchandise will do.

In the course of the introduction stage, there may be usually little-to-no competitors for a product, as rivals may be getting a primary take a look at the brand new providing. Nevertheless, corporations nonetheless usually expertise damaging monetary outcomes at this stage as gross sales are typically decrease, promotional pricing could also be low to drive buyer engagement, and the gross sales technique remains to be being evaluated.

Development Stage

If the product is profitable, it then strikes to the expansion stage. That is characterised by rising demand, a rise in manufacturing, and growth in its availability. The period of time spent within the introduction section earlier than an organization’s product experiences robust development will fluctuate from between industries and merchandise.

In the course of the development section, the product turns into extra widespread and recognizable. An organization should still select to speculate closely in promoting if the product faces heavy competitors. Nevertheless, advertising and marketing campaigns will doubtless be geared in direction of differentiating its product from others versus introducing the products to the market. An organization may refine its product by bettering performance primarily based on buyer suggestions.

Financially, the expansion interval of the product life cycle ends in elevated gross sales and better income. As competitors begins to supply rival merchandise, competitors will increase, doubtlessly forcing the corporate to lower costs and expertise decrease margins.

Maturity Stage

The maturity stage of the product life cycle is probably the most worthwhile stage, the time when the prices of manufacturing and advertising and marketing decline. With the market saturated with the product, competitors now increased than at different phases, and revenue margins beginning to shrink, some analysts confer with the maturity stage as when gross sales quantity is “maxed out”.

Relying on the nice, an organization could start deciding the right way to innovate its product or introduce new methods to seize a bigger market presence. This consists of getting extra suggestions from clients, and researching their demographics and their wants.

In the course of the maturity stage, competitors is on the highest stage. Rival corporations have had sufficient time to introduce competing and improved merchandise, and competitors for patrons is normally highest. Gross sales ranges stabilize, and an organization strives to have its product exist on this maturity stage for so long as attainable.

A brand new product must be defined, whereas a mature product must be differentiated.

Decline Stage

Because the product takes on elevated competitors as different corporations emulate its success, the product could lose market share and start its decline. Product gross sales start to drop because of market saturation and different merchandise, and the corporate could select to not pursue further advertising and marketing efforts as clients could have already got decided whether or not they’re loyal to the corporate’s merchandise or not.

Ought to a product be completely retired, the corporate will cease producing help for it and can completely section out advertising and marketing endeavors. Alternatively, the corporate could resolve to revamp the product or introduce a next-generation, fully overhauled mannequin. If the improve is substantial sufficient, the corporate could select to re-enter the product life cycle by introducing the brand new model to the market.

The stage of a product’s life cycle impacts the best way during which it’s marketed to customers. A brand new product must be defined, whereas a mature product must be differentiated from its rivals.

Benefits of Utilizing the Product Life Cycle

The product life cycle higher permits entrepreneurs and enterprise builders to higher perceive how every product or model sits with an organization’s portfolio. This allows the corporate to internally shift assets to particular merchandise primarily based on these merchandise’ positioning inside the product life cycle.

For instance, an organization could resolve to reallocate market employees time to merchandise getting into the introduction or development phases. Alternatively, it could want to speculate extra value of labor in engineers or customer support technicians because the product matures.

The product life cycle naturally tends to have a optimistic influence on financial development, because it promotes innovation and discourages supporting outdated merchandise. As merchandise transfer via the life cycle phases, corporations that use the product life cycle can notice the necessity to make their merchandise more practical, safer, environment friendly, quicker, cheaper, or higher suited to shopper wants.

Limitations of Utilizing the Product Life Cycle

Regardless of its utility for planning and evaluation, the product life cycle does not pertain to each trade and does not work persistently throughout all merchandise. Think about widespread beverage strains whose main merchandise have been within the maturity stage for many years, whereas spin-offs or variations of those drinks from the identical firm have failed.

The product life cycle additionally could also be synthetic in industries with authorized or trademark restrictions. Think about the brand new patent time period of 20 years from which the appliance for the patent was filed in the US. Although a drug could also be simply getting into their development stage, it could be adversely impacted by competitors when its patent ends no matter which stage it’s in.

One other unlucky facet impact of the product life cycle is potential deliberate obsolescence. When a product enters the maturity stage, an organization could also be tempted to start planning its substitute. This can be the case even when the prevailing product nonetheless holds many advantages for patrons and nonetheless has an extended shelf life. For producers who are likely to introduce new merchandise each few years, this may occasionally result in product waste and inefficient use of product growth assets.

Notification messages corresponding to Microsoft’s alert that Home windows 8.1 will sundown on January 2023 is an instance of decline. On account of obsolescence of the working system, Microsoft is selecting to not help the product and as an alternative focus assets on newer applied sciences.

Product Life Cycle vs. BCG Matrix

An identical analytical software to find out the market positioning of a product is the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) Matrix. This four-square desk defines merchandise primarily based on their market development and market share:

  • “Stars” are merchandise with excessive market development and excessive market share.
  • “Money cows” are merchandise with low market development and excessive market share.
  • “Query marks” are merchandise with excessive market development and low market share.
  • “Canine” are merchandise with low market development and low market share.

Though there is no such thing as a direct relationship between the matrix and the product life cycle idea, each analyze a product’s market development and saturation. Nevertheless, the BCG Matrix doesn’t historically talk the route during which a product will transfer. For instance, a product that has entered the maturity stage of the product life cycle will doubtless expertise decline subsequent; the BCG Matrix doesn’t talk this product movement in its visible depiction.

Introduction and Maturity: Particular Concerns

Corporations which have an excellent deal with on all 4 phases can enhance profitability and maximize their returns. Those who aren’t in a position to could expertise a rise of their advertising and marketing and manufacturing prices, finally resulting in the restricted shelf life for his or her product(s).

Again in 1965, Theodore Levitt, a advertising and marketing professor, wrote within the Harvard Enterprise Assessment that the innovator is the one with probably the most to lose as a result of so many actually new merchandise fail on the first section of their life cycle—the introductory stage. The failure comes solely after the funding of considerable time and cash into analysis, growth, and manufacturing. This truth prevents many corporations from even attempting something actually new. As a substitute, he mentioned, they await another person to succeed after which clone the success.

To quote a longtime and still-thriving trade, tv program distribution has associated merchandise in all phases of the product life cycle. OLED TVs are within the mature section, programming-on-demand is within the development stage, DVDs are in decline, and the videocassette is extinct.

Most of the most profitable merchandise on earth are suspended within the mature stage for so long as attainable, present process minor updates and redesigns to maintain them differentiated. Examples embody Apple computer systems and iPhones, Ford’s best-selling vehicles, and Starbucks’ espresso—all of which bear minor adjustments accompanied by advertising and marketing efforts—are designed to maintain them feeling distinctive and particular within the eyes of customers.

Examples of Product Life Cycles

Many manufacturers that have been American icons have dwindled and died. Higher administration of product life cycles might need saved a few of them—or maybe their time had simply come.


Oldsmobile started producing automobiles in 1897. After merging with Common Motors in 1908, the corporate used the primary V-8 engine in 1916. By 1935, the one millionth Oldsmobile had been constructed. In 1984, Oldsmobile gross sales peaked, promoting extra automobiles in that 12 months than another 12 months. By 2000, Common Motors introduced it will section out the auto and, on April twenty ninth, 2004, the final Oldsmobile was constructed.

Woolworth Co.

In 1905, Frank Winfield Woolworth integrated F.W. Woolworth Co., a normal merchandise retail retailer. By 1929, Woolworth had about 2,250 outlet shops throughout the US and Britain, Many years later, because of elevated competitors from different low cost retailors, Woolworth closed the final of its selection shops in the US in 1997 to more and more deal with sporting items.


On April 23, 1985, Coca-Cola introduced a brand new formulation for its widespread beverage, known as “new Coke.” Coca-Cola’s market-share lead had been reducing over the previous 15 years, and the corporate determined to launch a brand new recipe in hopes of reinvigorating product curiosity. After its launch, Coca-Cola’s cellphone line started receiving 1,500 calls per day, lots of which have been to complain concerning the change. Protest teams recruited 100,000 people to help their reason behind bringing “previous” Coke again.

A surprising 79 days after its launch, “new Coke’s” full product life cycle was full. Although the product did not expertise a lot development or maturity, its introduction to the market was met with heavy protest. Lower than three months after it introduced its new recipe, Coca-Cola introduced it will revert its product again to the unique recipe.

What Are the Phases of the Product Life Cycle?

The product life cycle is outlined as 4 distinct phases: product introduction, development, maturity, and decline. The period of time spent in every stage will fluctuate from product to product, and totally different corporations have totally different strategic approaches to transitioning from one section to the following.

What Are Product Life Cycle Methods?

Relying on the stage a product is in, an organization could undertake totally different methods alongside the product life cycle. For instance, an organization is extra prone to incur heavy advertising and marketing and R&D prices within the introduction stage. Because the product turns into extra mature, corporations could then flip to bettering product high quality, getting into new segments, or rising distribution channels. Corporations additionally strategically strategy divesting from product strains together with the sale of divisions or discontinuation of products.

What Is Product Life Cycle Administration?

Product life cycle administration is the act of overseeing a product’s efficiency over the course of its life. All through the totally different phases of product life cycle, an organization enacts methods and adjustments primarily based on how the market is receiving an excellent.

Why Is Product Life Cycle Necessary?

Product life cycle is vital as a result of it informs administration of how its product is performing and what strategic approaches it could take. By being knowledgeable of which stage its product(s) are in, an organization can change the way it spends assets, which merchandise to push, the right way to allocate employees time, and what improvements they need to analysis subsequent.

Which Elements Influence a Product’s Life Cycle?

Numerous components can have an effect on how a product performs and the place it lies inside the product life cycle. Usually, the product life cycle is closely impacted by market adoption, ease of aggressive entry, price of trade innovation, and adjustments to shopper preferences. Whether it is simpler for rivals to enter markets, customers change their thoughts often concerning the items they eat or the market turns into shortly saturated. Then, merchandise usually tend to have shorter lives all through a product life cycle.

The Backside Line

Broadly talking, virtually each product bought undergoes the product life cycle. This cycle of market introduction, development, maturity, and decline could fluctuate from product to product—or trade to trade. Nevertheless, this cycle informs an organization of the right way to greatest make the most of its assets, what the longer term outlook of their product is, and the right way to strategically plan for bringing new merchandise to market.