The life cycle of a product has four distinctive stages; Introduction, growth, maturity and decline. During each of these stages the marketing costs of promoting the product declines (see Figure below). This is because more and more people start to know the name of the product. Each phase of the life cycle will be discussed briefly:
Introduction phase: This is the stage where the product is research, planned, developed and introduced to the target market. If however it is found that the wrong target market has be identified, the research, planning, development and introduction to a different market is introduced. There is no fixed time allocated to this phase, but the shorter it is the cheaper the marketing is and the more profit will be made. A short introduction stage , with good growth, implies that the research work has been done well and the correct target market has been reached.
Growth phase: During this stage emphasis is placed in improving distribution, customer satisfaction and developing referral sources. This is the stage to develop customer loyalty. During this stage the farmer must ensure consistency, quality and quantity. If the consumer loses faith in the product during this stage, it is doomed to fail. The length of this stage may vary from product to product. There is no guideline to follow, some growth stages take a couple of months and some years.
Maturation phase: This is the phase where competition has declined, consumers are very aware of your product and demand is declining. The main aim of the marketing effort is to maintain stability, customer loyalty and quality. Revenue should be higher and expenses should be lower. The maturation stage does not have a time limit.
Decline phase: During this phase sales decline considerable. This can be attributed to various facts such as the competition has become to strong, a change in customer behavior patters or a substitute product has entered the market. During this phase the farmer should decide whether to improve, alter or terminate the product he is selling. The duration of this phase does not have a time limit
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