The product life cycle is a ubiquitous in marketing terms, but before we examine its uses and limitations in strategic market planning, we explain the concept.
The product life cycle proposes that like all life forms, products have finite lives. Hence, once a product is introduced to the market it enters a ‘life cycle’ and will eventually fade from the market.
A hypothetical product mix for Personal Products Ltd
In addition, the concept proposes that during its life cycle a product will pass through a number of different stages, where each stage has characteristic phenomena that suggest specific and different marketing strategies. This notion, together with the suggested shape and stages of the ‘typical’ product life cycle.
The characteristics of each stage are:
In Approaching market saturation: Quite simply, there remain fewer and fewer potential customers left still to purchase the product as it is diffused through the market. Eventually, only replacement sales are made with comparatively few new customers left to purchase for the first time.
The product life cycle concept (PLC)
The product life cycle concept has attracted much attention and criticism as a tool of strategic market planning. As a result, the basic concept described here has been developed and refined to include, for example, the notion of different levels of life cycle, i.e. life cycle analysis for brands, product forms and product classes and the notion of variations on the classic S-shaped curve. We examine some of these refinements and their relevance to the use of the concept in strategic market planning shortly, but first we look at some of the suggested uses of the basic concept in strategic decision making.
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