Do Products Die? or, Product Development and Management through Life Cycle Analysis

October 1, 2010 § Leave a comment


By Ken Morton

Products, like human beings, have their own life cycle. They are introduced (born), grow, mature, decline and often “die.”  Each phase in the cycle poses significant management challenges, involves many professional disciplines, and requires broad skills, tools and processes. Within this context, there are four key principles:

  1. Products have a limited, predictable life
  2. Sales/Revenues pass through distinct stages, each with different challenges, opportunities, and problems
  3. Profits rise then fall throughout the different stages
  4. Success requires different marketing, financial, manufacturing, purchasing, and human resource strategies and planning horizons in each stage

Successful managers must challenge themselves constantly to know if they are making the right decisions: Do I have the right product, at the right time, exploiting the right resources, to generate the right profit?

A life cycle strategy helps you plan, understand and structure your product development and management activities to ensure that you are.

(source: “Managing Products and Brands”, Rohan, SDSU)

Business success combines allocating scare resources and balancing needs.  Knowing where you are in the product life cycle allows you to manage your risks to achieve the optimum marketing mix – Product, Price, Promotion, Place, and guides your actions to ensure success- at every stage.

What Management Should Do

Begin by evaluating your entire product line showing life cycle stage, and analysis of price, promotion, place (distribution), as well as competition and consumers.  The individual maps consolidated to create a full product/market strategy.

(source: “Managing Products and Brands”, Rohan, SDSU)

At this point you must ruthlessly analyze where you are in the life cycle vis-à-vis the competition and take action to ensure that scarce management, operational, technical and financial resources are being properly managed and developed – both now and in the future.  In this way you will match your Investment, Development, Planning and Profit horizons synchronized within the field of competitive actions.

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