Product Life Cycle – Way Cool!

sunglasses - wayfarerFinally! Finally, finally, finally, I get the chance to be cool again like I was for approximately 32 minutes way back in 1987.

Back in the day (as you young people are fond of saying), I had a flight jacket, a Coca-Cola shirt, and, of course, a pair of Wayfarer shades to top it all off! I also owned a pair of Bugle Boy jeans but that’s a part of my life I’d really rather not admit to publicly, so I’ll keep that to myself.

Wayfarers were trendy back in the 1950s and 60s, and had been brought back into style by a brash youngster named Bruce Willis on a show called Moonlighting. Or it may have been Max Headroom. Or it may have been Don Johnson on Miami Vice. Well, anyway, they were indeed, as we used to say back in the 80s, way cool! And I owned several pair during those glorious days.

Actually, that’s not quite accurate…I still own several pair and I’ve been waiting all these years for the chance to get to wear them again. As these things often go, they went out of style but are working their way back into style, and this time, I’m ready!

This is an example of how the Product Life Cycle (PLC) can work. The traditional way we’re taught the product life cycle is that a product (and recall, a product can be a good, service or idea) goes through four stages: Introduction, growth, maturity, and decline. In the absolute long run, this is true.  A product goes through a definite introductory period and will inevitably decline. But the product life cycle may not be an a neat, smooth, entirely linear, normal curve. Chances are it’ll be a lot bumpier, full of ups and downs, peaks and valleys. A product’s life cycle may be a thousand years or it may be 15 minutes. A product may look like it’s going to be the new industry standard, and it may fizzle just as fast. Or a product may look like it’s dead and buried, only to be resurrected later on. So the hard part is in knowing at exactly what stage a product is in the life cycle without the benefit of hindsight. But just knowing the stages exist and their characteristics can be a very useful tool in making strategic decisions.

There is no security in life. Only opportunity.” – Douglas MacArthur