The Marketer’s Handbook to Product Life Cycle

In my series about product marketing, I’ve written about the essential skills of a product marketer and how to start using the AARRR framework to develop your product. In today’s post, I’d like to take a deep dive in the product life cycle theory and analyze each stage of the cycle.

Product life cycle stages

1. Introduction stage

This is when the fun begins. I would call the introduction stage an experimentation stage. You’re still trying to find product-market fit, iterating your product quite often, and keeping in contact with its early adopters. This stage is also characterized by a low-profit margin and a limited distribution.

2. Growth stage

The number of your users starts increasing. So does the amount of sales. You’re now in the growth stage. You may feel tempted to stop experimenting and just focus on what works, but while you don’t need to pivot entirely, this is also when you have enough data to discover who your users really are.

3. Maturity stage

The sales are slowing down, and your competitors have caught up. Your focus now should stay on keeping the market share intact while increasing your revenue at the same time. It’s not an easy task, and you may start feeling a bit panicky.

4. Decline stage

The technology and your competitors have not been asleep for the past few years, and your sales and the number of users are declining at great speed. The only thing that’s soaring is your churn rate.

How to check which stage is your product at

Once you know what each stage of the product life cycle represents, determining where your product is on this scale is easy. You can start by taking a look at your key metrics: sales, the number of users, and retention. Are they going up or plummeting?

iPod vs iPhone

Take iPod. The device was originally released in 2001, and now, only one model — iPod Touch — is still in production. The others were discontinued and removed from the store in 2017.

How should you approach different stages as a marketer

If you’re a marketer like me, I know that you’d love to know which strategies work for each stage of the cycle.

Introduction stage

This stage is all about building awareness and exploring different customer acquisition techniques. Some of the questions you should find responses to in this stage are:

  • Where do they hang out, and what is the best way to introduce your brand to them?
  • What is your ideal market like, and what could you do to achieve product-market fit?
  • What is your product’s Unique Value Proposition, and how could it help in getting these early adopters on board?

Growth stage

As I’ve mentioned, this is the stage when you’re starting to get enough data to genuinely analyze who your users are, instead of making assumptions based on personas or ideal customer profiles. I’ve listed some of the questions you may want to find answers to below:

  • What are the differences between these cohorts?
  • What makes each of these come back to the product and keep using it?
  • What value do they get from your product, and how could you make sure that what you’re providing?

Maturity stage

The maturity stage is when most of founders and teams start feeling a bit nervous. You start losing a market share, and your competitors are just an inch behind your back. You may feel tempted to start shooting new features out like gunfire, or even just simply copy what other companies are doing with their product.

  • Why are your users decided to use it in the first place?
  • How could you make your existing features better?
  • What are your product’s main bottlenecks, and how to overcome them?

Decline stage

That’s it, your product’s hay day is over. Or is it?

  • Why is it in decline?
  • Are there any new markets that are still interested in using the product?
  • When and how to decide if it’s time to pivot or start developing a new product?

Over to you

Phew, that was a lot to digest! What are your tips for marketing products at different stages of the product life cycle? Let’s discuss these in the comments below.

Growth & community at Learning new things is my jam.

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