In addition to the S-shaped life cycle, other variations on this pattern have been observed. Some of these are shown below. We see that the product life cycle can exhibit different patterns from that epitomized by the traditional notion of an S-shaped curve. Moreover, there is evidence to suggest that the ‘typical’ shape of the pattern may be associated with the type of product/market under construction.
Life cycle (a) is suggested as being frequently found in the market for many small household appliances. Initial sales growth after a new product launch is rapid, followed by a quite severe drop in sales as the novelty wears off. Eventually sales decline will stop and the product enters a relatively long period of stability in sales as late adopters purchase the product and early buyers purchase again to become replacement purchasers.
The pattern shown in (b) represents a ‘truncated’ pattern. Its shape illustrates that there is no introductory period. Sales grow rapidly from product launch. This type of curve may be associated with new products, like petrol-driven motor cars where there is substantial market appeal and little learning is required or risk perceived.
Pattern (c) illustrates a rapid growth in sales, with no introductory stage, followed by an equally rapid decline with no maturity stage. Products that exhibit this shape of life cycle are typical novelty products or fads, such as many children’s toys.
Pattern (d) illustrates a cycle/recycle pattern of a succession of product life cycle curves with a relatively short introductory period, rapid sales growth, a short maturity, followed by rapid decline. After this, the process is repeated when a new model is introduced. This pattern is frequently associated with fashion products like clothing or viewing a popular film a number of times.