5 Stages of Product Development Life Cycle

To clearly define the why, what, and when of product development, marketers came up with the idea of the product development life cycle.

It’s about managing processes that go from idea to creation to market share. You need to modify your methods based on where you are in the cycle, as each stage has its own costs, risks, and possibilities. This article discusses the five stages of make-or-break decision-making that each product or project goes through.

What Is a Product Life Cycle?

The product development life cycle is a model for measuring, planning, and controlling the business cycle of a product. It starts with the idea conception, leads to the development of the product, goes into production, and ends at the product retirement.

The product life cycle allows companies to plan which products are most likely to succeed and how to launch the product effectively.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

5 Stages of Product Development Life Cycle

A product goes through a number of consecutive stages in the product life cycle. To design and produce your product effectively, you will need a plan, and we can break down the process into five primary stages.

Each stage is defined by specific metrics, including sales, profit, consumer involvement, recognition, and the number of competitors. Each of the five stages is detailed below.

1. New Product Development

The first stage of a product’s life is the new product development stage, and your journey to market research starts here. During this process, your concept develops into a marketable product that is prepared for mass manufacturing.

You must refine the concept, test your product, and develop a launch strategy before your product enters the market. In fact, concept testing with actual potential users is a vital step in this stage. It will help you analyze the target market’s reactions to your product. So you can make the necessary adjustments based on feedback before you begin mass production.

2. Introduction

The introduction stage starts when your product is ready to be launched in the market. You’ll start promoting your product and developing your brand at this point. Additionally, you’ll be expanding your clientele, especially with the help of the early adopters who are already enthusiastic about your product.

At this stage of the product life cycle, the marketing team will focus on building product awareness and reaching your target market. You’ll also need to decide on the pricing of your product. You must outline how you will sell and distribute the product as you move toward the next stage.

At this stage of product development, you will need to:

  • Promote the product to increase awareness and product acceptance.
  • Establish a customer base, especially focusing on the innovators and early adopters
  • Decide on your distribution strategy to reach maximum customers by offering discounts, trials, or samples.
  • Determine the pricing of the product. You could increase the price to cover the startup expenses or decrease it to acquire market share.

3. Growth

At the growth stage, the audience and users will start liking your product, and you will gain more consumers buying your product. You can anticipate making a profit at this point in the product cycle.

The focus of marketing during this phase shifts from attracting customer attention to creating a brand presence. Give them reasons to pick you over your competition. As your business expands, you can start introducing new features, enhance support offerings, and establish new distribution methods. All of these initiatives will play a significant role in your marketing.

At this stage, you must:

  • Offer high-quality and consistent products to give your new customers exactly what they are expecting.
  • Maintain a steady price strategy.
  • Continue making marketing investments to strengthen your company’s messaging and win over devoted customers.
  • Consider the most effective distribution methods to ensure product availability.
  • Update the appearance and add new functionality to increase market visibility.

4. Maturity

You can expect stabilization of your product at the maturity stage of the product development life cycle. This is the phase when the sales will rapidly increase and reach their peak. The majority of the customers will be purchasing at this point. To remain competitive, you might need to reduce your prices.

Your marketing initiatives now emphasize distinction over awareness by emphasizing the superior features of your product. Production costs will be lower at this stage, while sales will be constant.

The challenge during the maturity stage is maintaining your market position while coming up with fresh ideas for pleasing your customers. Therefore, you must continue to improve and inform customers about how the product is improving every day.

To preserve what you have accomplished, you should:

  • Boost features to make your product stand out from competitors’ offerings.
  • Make improvements and offer something unique which has not been introduced by the competitors yet.
  • Analyze new markets and broaden the distribution networks to attract additional customers.
  • Lower prices to maintain the clients and prevent them from switching to competitors.
  • Lower the prices to prevent customers from converting to competitors

5. Decline

The decline stage inevitably follows the end of the mature stage. You’ll start to see a steady decline in sales. And your clients may stop buying your product or move to one created by a competitor that is newer and better.

Innovation is essential to combating the decline stage of the product development cycle. Improving your current product or even creating a second generation are effective ways to combat the decline and stay competitive. Discontinuing your product may be wise if it has completed its intended lifespan on the market and is no longer useful.

At this stage, you must have the courage to:

  • Deal with the increasing competition in the market.
  • Risk losing clients to a brand-new, superior substitute.
  • Reduce the costs as much as you can to keep your customers.
  • Build a replacement product to replace existing products, but make them more attractive and competitive.
  • Change the target audience in an effort to pique interest.

Wrapping Up

The product development life cycle (PDLC) is a model for analyzing the events in the different stages of a product throughout its lifetime. It consists of five distinct phases: new product development, introduction, growth, maturity, and decline.

The stages are non-linear, meaning that not all stages must be completed. There are no clear-cut boundaries or time frames for when one stage ends and the next one begins. We hope you find this article helpful!

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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