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Introduction

Product Life Cycles
Most product categories have life cycles, that is to say they will eventually be replaced by products that evolve because of changing technology or fashion. Before formulating your strategies under the 4P's, (Product, Place, Price and Promotion) you should first consider where your product or service is in its' life cycle. When exploring what mix is most appropriate consider which of the following phases is appropriate to your product or product category.

Introductory Phase
If you are releasing a brand new product or service to the market your product, price, place and promotion strategies are critical considerations. If they are not competitive and different enough from the offerings already available, the chances of your product becoming established are not good.

Growth Phase
If you have been enjoying a degree of exclusivity and comparative success, be prepared for competitive 'me too' products. How you react to competition will impact your survival. Will you reduce your prices, change the way in which you promote your product or change or expand your channels of distribution.

Maturity Phase
If your product is a 'me too' product competing for the same customers as other products your product has reached the maturity phase. This phase has its own set of complications as your product is vulnerable to being swamped by competitors. You will need to carefully consider changes to your marketing strategies, including updating the product itself, so you can adapt to changing circumstances.

Decline Phase
If sales are static or falling your product may be close to or at the end of its life cycle. Technology based products are especially prone to short life cycles. Consider how e-mail has all but replaced fax machines and how DVD and Blu-ray players have made VCR's redundant.

If this applies to your product category you should consider 'milking' the product for any remaining revenue, re-invent it through changes to branding, presentation or packaging; repositioning it to a different target market, or if it is not profitable take the decision to delete it from your product range. Even if products have been very successful in the past there is no place for sentiment in business if they are no longer contributing to profitable revenue.

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