The New Product Life Cycle

Marketing isn’t what it used to be.  In business school, we read about the product life cycle (PLC) – a curve that traced the evolution of sales from introduction to decline.  The traditional PLC was characterised by an underlying “evolution”.  After introducing a product, a marketer would see slow adoption, followed by strong growth, a period of stability where one could milk the product, followed by a slow decline.

That isn’t happening anymore.  PLCs have gotten incredibly compressed – and resemble “fads” in many cases.  The new PLC is characterised by rapid adoption (or failure), a short sharp peak and rapid decline – followed (hopefully) by a long tail.  The true blockbuster product – with the traditional PLC is increasingly rare.  You see this in several industries – entertainment (music, movies), mobile phones, cars, apparel – name it.

All this changes the job of the marketer quite considerably.  One can’t hope for a gradual diffusion of the product anymore.  A new product introduction requires speed and scale in order to be successful.

What are the implications of the new PLC:

1. Intense marketing activity up-front in order to break through the clutter

2. Widespread distribution arrangements to capitalise on the marketing activities and the short sales period

3. Flexible manufacturing capacity that can ramp-up and down rapidly

4. Risk-management techniques to manage exposures caused by intense up-front investments

5. Use of low cost distribution channels to extract value from the long tail

6. Rapid product development processes

Are you configured to succeed in this new environment?  Or, are you still trying to milk the old?

3 Responses to The New Product Life Cycle

  1. Pingback: Competing with Pirates « Two MBAs, One Blog

  2. Pingback: New PLC management – Kites and Bollywood « Two MBAs, One Blog

  3. Pingback: Old and New Product Life Cycles « Two MBAs, One Blog

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