Having considered the product life cycle and the inevitability of product decline, the question which comes to one’s mind is what should be done to avoid or postpone this decline.
Consider some of the following points to avoid decline,
- Improve product quality
- Add new product features resulting in extra benefits
- Penetrate new market segments
- Give incentives to distribution channels
- Expand the number of your distribution channels
- Improve advertising and sales effort
Perhaps, the answer lies in the word `innovation’. That is why it is sometimes said that innovation is the life-blood of marketing. Innovation can be in any of the 4 Ps of ‘marketing. In connection with the product, it would mean quality improvement or improvement in features (e.g. introducing piano key type controls for table fans) or even style improvements like in case of clothes where collars are changed from time to time because of the fashion life cycle. Ultimately a time may come when the product will have to be removed from the product mix.
In practice, there is often a reluctance to do this, particularly from the senior members in the management hierarchy, who may have got very much attached to such products. This emotional approach has to be avoided while taking final decision.
The product life cycle concept, therefore, emphasizes that there should be a periodical review of the products. The profitability and financial viability of the product must be assessed constantly. Products which are difficult to sell affect even the morale of the salesmen, as well as the distribution outlets. The only excuse for retaining such products is when the unprofitable product is required to complete the product line to enable distributors to meet competition. Unless there is some strong reason, unprofitable products should be removed from the product mix of the organization.
Now let us consider the time period of this product life cycle. In case of some products, it is extremely short, whereas in others, it is very long. In case of fads, the life cycle is very brief. For example, in India the ‘hoola hoop’ completed the cycle within a few months. As against this, the horse carriage is still running in cities like Mumbai and smaller cities, although to a small extent, despite its being substituted with better means of transportation.