Step by Step

In class we discussed the product life cycle. When I first heard about the 4 Steps, which include the Introduction, Growth, Maturity and Decline of a cycle, I automatically thought of a job I used to work for being a cable company provider. I was selling cable TV, phone and internet. The company I worked for was being offered in new locations and I had to go around door to door selling the product for commission.

In the beginning, or in other words, the introduction phase of the job process, was overall okay since it was a new company in the area and nobody really had much knowledge on the company so a few sales were made. People would not take the time to open the door and listen to my pitch. When some people did want to start a conversation, I would have to explain the company in great detail because no one has heard of it.

Then, as time passed in the growth phase, there had been some knowledge of the company spreading around and residents started to get intrigued by the idea of this cable provider so more than a normal amount of sales were made. Less people said, “no thank you” or “I already have cable” and stayed to listen to my explanation of this growing company.

In the third phase, the maturity phase, word had gone around that this company is good and for the amount of money to be saved verse the competitors the residents couldn’t refuse the offer. So as you can imagine, after all the neighbors talked about the company and shared more knowledge of the company and a little extra information by me the sales were being made more than ever. My boss was obviously happier during this phase because more sales were made overall.

Unfortunately, in the next phase, there is a decline, in the decline phase. After a numerous amount of sales, there were no more residents that would have wanted the product offered. So as you can imagine there were less and less sales being made after time.

As you can imagine, any kind of company could go through this problem. Do you believe that there is any way to expand the maturity phase and to avoid or delay the decline phase?

13 thoughts on “Step by Step

  1. The only way I could think of expanding the maturity phase is to keep building up the product little by little. For example, I think the iphone has done this. There are always more and more apps coming out and they appeal to all different kinds of people. The easy thing is you can just plug in your phone and update it. The iphone has been out for about four years has had a long run, and yet is still selling like crazy.

  2. I agree with Morgan. I think companies can delay the decline stage by making improvements to the products. They also could have made more enhancements to capacity in the growth stage. As we learned in class a product may be in any stage for any amount of time. I think with better project managers a company can move into the next phase when it is primed for success.

  3. Improving a product might be a good way to extend the time it spends in the maturity phase, but I think it would be more difficult to do the same for a service rather than a product. And as far as avoiding the decline phase, I think that is probably impossible; it wouldn’t be much of a life cycle if it never ended. Even Apple is aware that the decline phase is inevitable, which is why they have their next “big thing” prepared years before the decline of their current products.

  4. Avoiding the decline phase is simply impossible. New technology or innovations arise on what now seems a daily basis. This poses a serious problem for many companies who rely on a product’s life-cycle to recover the amount of money they dumped into R&D. Apple has done a tremendous job extending the life-cycle of its products by making improvements from one generation onto the next. On the other hand, we see companies such a Pfizer who are struggling to extend the life of their products (Lipitor).

  5. The decline stage is a natural occurrence in any product, and logic dictates that it is inevitable in the case of a good such as cable, which doesn’t “break”. You offer a product and there are only so many people in a given area that are capable of buying that product. Once all of them have been made aware of the existence of your product, those people that want to buy will and those that don’t want to buy wont. Everybody has a price they will pay for a given service and once they have made their decision they will rarely change, so the service must. You can either give them more without charging more and perhaps they will value this new deal at your price point, or you can lower your price point to their actual valuation. It’s a simple and logical equation, and once a market begins to decline, something must change. Perhaps new channels, cheaper HD, free movie channel promotions, lower overall price, but something has to be different, otherwise it is insane to expect different results.

  6. The duration of each phase can be controlled to a certain extent. The maturity phase is the most important phase to extend because this is when the product is at its most profitable point. Some ways to extend the maturity phase include: increasing the amount of product used by customers (food producers issuing recipe cards), adding or updating product features (Apple), price promotions, and advertising. I think Apple does an outstanding job of extending the maturity phase for all of there products.

  7. In a situation like this I believe the cable company was still in its maturity stage. If it retained most of its customers business is not really declining. The cable company should’ve expanded its service to different areas, increasing their share in the market. As a Salesman, I can see how this can be a decline in your sales, but the company is still making money at the end of the day. Overall, with any service or product, Innovation is key. Knowing what the customer wants will help any business stay afloat for a long time.

  8. The service industry is usually a tough market to compete in but there are definitely ways the cable company could maintain a steady stream of sales. They have to stay competitive, companies do this by doing research on other companies on what their approach to customer sales are. Additionally, to stay competitive, the cable company should offer competitive prices, discounts, referral programs with incentives, and bundled deals. As Jaime mentioned, servicing new areas would also add to the stream of sales. Last but not least, in the service industry, customer satisfaction is essential. A service company’s approach should be fundamentally based on the customer’s needs.

  9. You bring up an interesting question. I would have to agree with Jaime because without innovation a product will not even reach the maturity stage. Expansion of your company’s market share, new product designs, and discounts can essentially all be categorized as “innovations.” The customers needs should come before anything.

  10. I agree with this also. I think it is very difficult, especially for a company in the service industry, to prevent the ‘decline’ stage. Although many companies offer innovative products, they need to come up with better ways to expand the ‘maturity’ stage and grow more. Take for instance a company like AT&T and Apple. Although AT&T is a leading provider of cell phone service, they were looking for ways to gain additional customers. They knew they couldn’t do that with their service alone. They partnered up with Apple, who has one of the leading phones in the market, the iPhone. With the iPhone, many people switched over to AT&T just to have a “cool” phone, or better yet a gadget that everyone wanted. In addition, they were an exclusive retailer who carried this phone. They expanded their ‘maturity’ stage and continued to expand their business. When business started to approach the ‘decline’ phase, they came out with another model of the iPhone. I think this was a great strategy they implemented, and strongly believe it worked for them.

  11. I agree that every product would have a decline step. In my opinion, the first thing we should do to expand the maturity phase of a product is to find out the reasons why customers do not want to buy the product anymore. The reasons could include many aspects such as quality, price or features. Once we notice the problems, we can improve our products’ quality, cut down price or release a new version of the product.

  12. I enjoyed reading this post, and I like the example you used. I believe that there is no way of avoiding the decline or eventually extinction of a product/company if there is not innovation. I understand that there is no way a company can introduce new product if their first product is not doing well, but unfortunately, that is the risk of being in business. One must evaluate if the target market wants or needs the product. Then go toward seeing how to make the product marketable. Now a days, people (I know I do this) who go door to door aren’t valued as much. I would rather go into a trusted store and buy a product verses buying it from someone who showed up at my doorstep.

  13. You can expand the maturity phase of your product by adding new features and attributes; you can delay the decline phase but definitely cannot avoid the decline phase. Eventually, every product will die one day. Coming from product management background, we used to have an amazing product that was one of our main revenue generators. As mentioned in the post, our product went through the four phases of a product life cycle, and it was doing extremely well, but with the changing technologies, changing customer demands, and the strong competition, our product now is at the late stage of a declining phase. So do we stop here? Not really because the old product will soon be replaced by a new product that would serve the changing demands of our customers and compete with our competitors’ products.

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