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Product Life Cycle: The 4 Stages Explained

The 4 stages of the product life cycle are introduction, growth, maturity, and decline. Learn how to leverage this into your business strategy.

Do you want to build a successful product? If so, you need to understand the product life cycle.

The product life cycle definition is that this is how you can trace the life of a product from beginning to end. At first, you are working on developing a new product. In the end, your product is being displaced from the market by a better product.

There are plenty of product life cycle examples, and some of them are divided into four product life cycle stages. There are some models that might include six product life cycle stages. The product life cycle theory is still just a theory, but you need to figure out which theory applies best to the products and services you offer.

As you focus on different product growth strategies, you need to think carefully about how the product life cycle theory can apply to the products and services you provide.

Gain a better understanding of a product's life cycle and make sure you position your product to meet the needs of your target market.

What is the product life cycle?

The product life cycle is used to divide the life of a product from beginning to end. In the first stage, the product is Imagine for the first time.

Then, it is introduced to the market. The product has to make its way into the market to maximize its potential share of the market. Eventually, the product declines as better options are introduced.

No matter how good the product is, the product will eventually phase out of the market. This doesn't necessarily mean that your product is going to leave the market quickly, but it does mean that the market will eventually become saturated.

Then, as there is more competition, there will be a decrease in demand. Your sales numbers might begin to drop as well. Therefore, it is important to have a product life cycle map for the products you offer. That way, you can track the journey of your product from beginning to end.

The 4 stages of the product life cycle

If you take a look at small business marketing strategies, you will probably see four separate product life cycle stages. By figuring out what stage your product is at, you can figure out how you might want to respond with your marketing strategy.

The stages of the product life cycle include:

Development stage

The first stage of the product life cycle is the development stage. This is the process of figuring out what type of product you want to introduce to the market.

For example, you might do some market research to take a look at opportunities for potential growth. Then, you might take a look at the capabilities of your company to figure out how you can create a product that has been designed to meet those needs.

There might be a lot of testing that takes place during this stage, and you will work hard to figure out what product you want to roll out. Based on the research you have conducted, you will customize your product to address customer pain points before releasing it.

Growth stage

After you have introduced the market to your product for the first time, he will watch the product become more popular. You need to focus on your promotional strategy and growth marketing to generate as much interest in your product as possible.

As the product becomes more popular, you might start to increase online sales. Other companies are going to start to take note of the product you have released, and they may change their marketing strategy to try to tamp down some of your sales.

As the market for your product expands, you may tweak some of the features. That way, you can make it more appealing based on the feedback you get from your customers.

Maturity stage

As the industry begins to reach market saturation, you will arrive at the maturity stage. This is a sign that it is becoming more competitive in the market, particularly as you spend more time fending off competition.

You might even notice that your sales start to slow down. Your sales numbers do not necessarily start to decline, but they are not increasing as quickly as they were before. You may want to invest in some product bundling to convince more people to purchase the product you sell.

Decline stage

Even though you will do everything you can to keep your product alive, including product recommendations, your product will eventually decline.

No product is going to stay on the market forever. You might find that the operational costs are too high, and you might realize that there are better products coming on the market.

When a product has reached this stage, your market share begins to drop, and competition begins to deteriorate. You may also realize that there is a change in consumer behavior, and not as many people are interested in the product anymore.

This is just a general overview of a product life cycle. Notice that there is nothing that says how long each of these stages is going to last.

There are some products that might stay on the market for a few months, and there are other products that might stay on the market for a few decades. By figuring out the product life cycle, you will have an easier time figuring out how to respond to certain situations.

Why is the product life cycle helpful for marketers?

A product life cycle is helpful for marketers because it helps you figure out what marketing strategies to use in specific situations.

For example, you can use a product life cycle as a forecasting and planning tool. If you have released a similar product in the past, you might be able to use that product to create a product life cycle for a future release.

Then, you can figure out what marketing strategies you want to use in specific situations.

You can even use a product lifecycle tool to estimate your profits and revenue. For example, if you know that a specific product followed a similar life cycle in the past, you might be able to take a look at its revenue numbers.

Then, you can track your new product over time, estimating how much revenue you might generate in specific situations. The entire purpose of a product life cycle is to add a bit of transparency to an unknown situation, helping you maximize the value of each product you release.

What are the drawbacks of the product life cycle model?

There are a few significant drawbacks of a product life cycle model. The first drawback is that you do not necessarily want to pigeonhole yourself into a specific cycle. It can be very difficult to predict how a product life cycle is going to unfold, and if you expect one thing to happen but end up with another, you might not necessarily know how to respond.

Another significant drawback of the product life cycle model is that you do not know how long your product is going to spend in each individual stage. Even though it might be helpful to take a look at similar products in the past, industries can change quickly. You might have a hard time figuring out when your product is going to transition to another stage, and that can make it difficult to respond accordingly.

That is why it is important to take a look at your life cycle model from time to time and re-evaluate it when necessary.

Product life cycle examples

It might be helpful to take a look at specific examples of a product's life cycle, and one significant example is a DVD.

When a DVD was first developed, it was designed to replace VHS cassettes. There were a number of pain points related to VHS cassettes that had to be addressed. One of the biggest ones was that it would take too long to rewind a VHS cassette.

That is where DVDs became beneficial. Thanks to a DVD, you can move yourself to a specific chapter instantly. You didn't have to worry about manually rewinding the DVD. When DVDs were released on the market, they enjoyed a significant growth stage. Eventually, they reached maturity in a few years.

For several years, DVDs were the mainstay. It seemed like just about every movie that was released was being transferred to a DVD or Blu-ray disc, which is similar. Even though DVD companies worked hard to keep their products on the market, they did eventually reach a decline.

In this case, the decline of DVDs began to develop when streaming services became more popular. Eventually, you have the ability to download a movie on your own or stream it live.

All of a sudden, people did not need to spend $20 dollars purchasing a DVD, particularly when it took up a lot of space on the bookshelf.

From displacing VHS cassettes to being displaced by streaming services, the entire DVD product life cycle only took a few years. Sometimes, the product life cycle can go very quickly.

Use Mailchimp to market your products

Because you never know how long your product is going to spend on the market, you need to take full advantage of every marketing tool at your disposal.

For example, you might want to explore product blocks from Mailchimp, which can help you customize your marketing strategy to meet your needs.

If you think carefully about how you can respond to different stages of your product's life cycle, you can maximize the revenue you generate from your products.

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