Product life cycle explained – stages with examples

Have you always dreamed of acquiring a new mobile phone as soon as a new model is released? Or maybe you fondly remember when you rented a Blockbuster movie long before Netflix arrived?

This change in demand for a product over time is known as the “product life cycle”.

Here, we explain a bit more about what a product lifecycle is, the different stages a product goes through, and why knowing it can help you make your business a success.

What is a Product Lifecycle?

The product life cycle is a useful theory to understand, analyze, and apply to your business. It examines the period that a product exists in the market, from launch and growth to eventual decline.

Analyzing your product life cycle can help you with everything from developing your marketing strategy and pricing to managing the overall health of your business.

Product life cycle stages

There are generally four stages in a product’s life cycle. However, this does not take into account the ideas and development phase at the beginning, and you can very well evolve and iterate your product along the way.

Step 1: Presentation

This first stage corresponds to the moment when your product is ready to be launched on the market. Demand will be low, so you’ll invest time and money in advertising and marketing to get customers aware of your new product.

Stage 2: Growth

Now your product is established in the market and you start to see demand and profits increase. You may also see more competitors appear on the scene as they attempt to replicate your success.

Stage 3: Maturity

This is usually the longest stage in a product’s life cycle. You will notice that the growth is stabilizing and you might choose to lower your prices to stay competitive. If you think you’re headed for decline, it’s time to revise your marketing strategy or consider making changes to your product.

Stage 4: Decline

If you notice a decline in sales and revenue over time, it may be a sign that your product is on the decline and may soon become obsolete.

However, that doesn’t mean that once a product goes into decline, it can’t be relaunched.

For example, vinyl records lost wide appeal with the rise of cassettes, then CDs and online streaming. But we’ve seen a resurgence in vinyl over the past 14 years, and the music format is now firmly in vogue as consumers crave high-quality sound and a tactile experience.

Product Life Cycle Diagram

The four stages of a product’s lifecycle are usually displayed as a graph with time on the x-axis and sales on the y-axis (as in the example below).

Chart showing product life cycle over time

Example of product life cycle

When it comes to an example of a product life cycle, think of the iPhone and how Apple releases a new model every year. It is a marketing strategy that encourages consumers to buy the latest model so that they can enjoy increased functionality and excellent design features.

As a result, older iPhone models are seeing less demand, but the newer and more expensive model is gaining popularity.

Product life cycle management

No one wants to see their product decline and become obsolete. So here are some product lifecycle extension strategies that can help keep people interested:

  • change your packaging – Sometimes just changing the way the product looks on the shelf can increase demand. For example, keeping sustainability in mind with your packaging materials or giving your product labels a refreshed look.

  • release a new version – as we mentioned earlier in the Apple example, another way to increase sales is to release an updated version of your product, perhaps with new features or improved technology

  • try another market – if interest is waning in a target market, you can determine if your product is attractive in another location (for example, if there is a lot of competition in one area) or with a whole new demographic

Learn more about the product development lifecycle at launch New products, read our guide to developing a product.

Do you know of any other strategies you can use to extend a product’s life cycle? Let us know in the comments.

Photograph 1: WavebreakMediaMicro/

Photograph 2: AboutLife/

Photograph 3: niki99/

About Shirley L. Kreger

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