Product Life Cycles: Development, Design and Beyond

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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Lombardo
Have you ever considered that products, like humans, have a life cycle? You will learn about product life cycles and how they are designed and developed. See how a product goes from its introduction to being retired.

The Life of a Product

From your science class in school, you probably learned the process of human life from birth through death. Did you know that in marketing there is also a product life cycle? It is a process that traces the stages of a product's acceptance, from its introduction, or birth to its decline, or death. The cycle can be used to analyze a brand, category, or form. The product we will examine as part of the life cycle will be a record player. The product life cycle consists of four stages, which are introduction, growth, maturity, and decline. Some products move very fast through the product life cycle while others take years. If a product, such as neon clothing, bursts onto the scene it is usually called a fad because the product quickly is born and then dies just as quickly.

Product Life Cycle: Introductory Stage

The most dangerous part of the product life cycle is the introductory stage. In this stage, the birth, or a total product launch, occurs into the marketplace. It is highly risky and many products 'die' or fail quickly. The good news is that there is little competition. While the first record players were developed in the late 1870s, it wasn't until the early 1900s that the product was able to reach a larger consumer audience.

Marketing and advertising costs were high for the record player during the introductory phase. Money needed to be spent on educating consumers about the new product and also promoting the purchase of it. As soon as the record player was accepted into the marketplace, the company was able to decrease their marketing financial costs. The higher price was supported and profits were made.

Certain consumer products require sampling and couponing, while types such as shopping and specialty, like the record player, require educational advertising and personal selling in order to create demand.

Product Life Cycle: Growth Stage

The record player was successfully launched and quickly moved into the growth stage. Here the record player's sales grew at an increasing rate, and this attracted many competitors. The Victor Company's Victrolas lead the way in popularity, and the record player had overall success in the '30s, '40s, and 1950s. Aggressive advertising was needed to differentiate between different record player brands that emerged.

One key success of a brand in a competitive market is the ability to gain excellent distribution methods and reach target markets. The record player was entering into a very profitable stage, but soon the product would start to show its age.

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