9 - ARTICLE 3 1 T he P roduct L ife Cycle: A Key to S...

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ARTICLE 31 The Product Life Cycle: A Key to Strategic Marketing Planning John E. Smallwood Modern marketing management today in- creasingly is being supported by marketing information services of growing sophistica- tion and improving accuracy. Yet the task re- mains for the marketing manager to translate information into insights, insights into ideas, ideas into plans, and plans into reality and satisfactory programs and profits. Among marketing managers there is a growing real- ization of the need for concepts, perspectives. and for constructs that are useful in translat- ing information into profits. While infor- mation flow can be mechanized and the screening of ideas routinized, no alternative to managerial creativity has yet been found to generate valuable marketing ideas upon which whole marketing programs can be based. The concept of the product life cycle has been extremeIy useful in focusing this creative process. The product life cycle concept in many ways may be considered to be the marketing Reprinted from MSU Business Topics IWinter 19731, pp. 29-35. equivalent of the periodic table of the ele- ments concept in the physical sciences; like the periodic table, it provides a framework for grouping products into families for easier predictions of reactions to various stimuli. With chemicals- it is a question of oxidation temperature and melting point; with prod- ucts - it is marketing channel acceptance and advertising budgets. Just as like chemicals re- act in similar ways, so do like products. The product life cycle helps to group these prod- ucts into homogeneous families. The product life cycle can be the key to successful and profitable product manage- ment, from the introduction of new products to profitable disposal of obsolescent products. The fundamental concept of the product life cycle (PLq is illustrated in Figure 31-1- In application, the vertical scale often is measured in saturation of the product (per- centage of customer units using), while the horizontal scale is calibrated to represent the passage of time. Months or years are usually the units of time used in calibration, although theoretically, an application along the same 438
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Termination I I I I I B&WTVI /1 I I I I I I I I Decline I Ranges & Ovens V managers have two basic options. They can choose a more restrictive, specific marketing unit such as "all occupied U.S. households that do not have forced air heating"; homes without forced air heating are unlikely candi- dates for central air conditioning. It can be anticipated that room air conditioners will saturate not only that market, but portions of other markets as well. On the other hand, on products are shown positioned by life cycle stages: the potential saturations permit the Maturity THE PRODUCT LIFE CYCLE: A KEY 10STRATEGIC MARKETING PLANNING 439 Growth I I R fri I Freezers ~ e ngerators I Automatic I\ I I Washers" I~ ..._ .. ,(\I' __ "' __ I Room AlC "- : <, Color TV i~ I Dishwasher ~ I I I Introduction Figure 31-1 Life Cycle Stages of Various Products Time concept of much shorter or longer durations
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9 - ARTICLE 3 1 T he P roduct L ife Cycle: A Key to S...

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