Marketing Strategy


An early article published that the term was first developed in the 1950s and later it was used by Theodore Levitt in 1965 in a Havard Business Review article which was later continued to be popularized amongst businesses. At the end of 70’s, the term is use in discussion more often than using it as a marketing tool. As cited by Robert H. Lowson (2005) in Marketing Intelligence & Pricing, product life cycle has become an important feature in marketing teaching, in spite of some evidence of the product life cycle’s limitations.

Products in the market follow a life cycle where it allows you to see where your products stand throughout the four stages and when to apply the relevant marketing strategies at various stages to achieve cash cow products. Unfortunately, product life is erratic and consists of various life cycle patterns in shape and duration, making it sometimes hard to recognize the pattern that fits to the product.

This assignment gives an overview of the product life cycle and a mixture of marketing strategy applied to different stages of the life cycle. It defines the variable product life cycle patterns which are presented for an overview in figures. It also identifies the limitations of the product life cycle.

1 Product Life Cycle

Product life cycle model

According to Kotler (2006), the product life cycle is very much dependent on the marketing strategy a company has planned over a period of time on a certain product in different stages of product life cycle. The product life cycle model is a time-dependent model which sees the fluctuations of sales and profit increases and decreases throughout the different stages of the product life cycle.

As product passes through time, the sales increases slowly (introduction stage), then sales increases rapidly with profit improvement (growth stage) but slow down with profit stability (maturity stage) and finally decrease with profit erosion (decline stage). Cellular phone product was introduced in the early 1970s with fewer than ten thousand users and reached the growing stage until the late 1990s when prices begins to drop, where many have the funds for a unit. Now, everyone has a cell phone.

Source: Adapted from Kotler (2006)
Figure 1.0: Product Life Cycle Model

Not all products portrayed the bell-shaped. There are different shapes of the product life cycle such as growth-slumped maturity pattern, cycle-recycle pattern and scalloped pattern as shown in figure below. Kotler (2006)

Growth-slumped maturity pattern

Source: Adapted from: Kotler (2006)
Figure 1.2: Growth-Slumped Maturity Pattern

The shape of figure above is often characteristic of small kitchen appliances. Late adopters buy the product for the first time and early adopters replacing the product to sustain the petrified level. Kotler (2006)

Cycle-recycle pattern

Source: Adapted from Kotler (2006)
Figure 1.3: Cycle-recycle pattern

Figure show when pharmaceutical companies aggressively promote a new drug and this result in the first cycle. Later, sales start declining and the company gives the drug another promotion push, which produces a second cycle that is usually of smaller magnitude and shorter duration. Kotler (2006)

Scalloped pattern

Source: Adapted from Kotler (2006)
Figure 1.4: Scalloped Pattern

Figure show sales pass through a succession of life cycles based on the discovery of new-product characteristics, uses or users. Nylon’s sales for example, showed a scalloped pattern because of the many uses discovered over time. Kotler (2006)

In fact, there are almost nine variations of the product life cycle. (Refer diagram)

Nine Variations of the Product Life Cycle

Source: Adapted from Baker (2001) Dictionary of Marketing & Advertising – by Michael John Baker
Figure 1.5: Nine variations of the Product Life Cycle
2 Marketing Mix

Changes in the marketing mix through the product life cycle are required in order to adjust to the evolving challenges and opportunities. According to Kotler (2006) (2006), company must be able to visualize a market’s evolutionary path as it is affected by new needs, competitors, technology, channels and other developments.

The marketing mix is generally accepted as the use and specification of the four Ps describing the strategic position of a product in the marketplace.

Source: Adapted from Wikipedia (
Figure 2.0: Traditional marketing mix

At present, there are a few extended marketing mixes which totaling up to the traditional marketing mix to nine Ps.
 People
 Profit
 Positioning
 Process
 Physical Evidence

It is significant to company that its marketing objectives is set for each product line so that company can develop the marketing strategy that will take into consideration on all elements of the marketing mix. A company will need to refer to a few marketing strategy available such as Boston Matrix, Ansoff’s Matrix or a simple SWOT analysis to establish which direction it is focusing.

Introduction Growth Maturity Decline
Sales Low Sales Rapidly rising sales Peak Sales Declining Sales
Costs High Cost per customer Average cost per customer Low Cost per customer Low Cost per customer
Profits Negative Rising Profit High Profit Declining Profit
Customers Innovators Early adopters Middle Majority Laggards
Competitors Few Growing Number Stable number beginning to decline Declining number
Marketing Objectives Create product awareness and trial Maximize market share Maximize profit while defending market share Reduce expenditure and milk the brand
Product Offer a basic product Offer product extensions, service, warranty Diversify brands and items models Phase out weak
Price Charge cost-plus Price to penetrate market Price to match or best competitors Cut price
Distribution Build selective distribution Build intensive distribution Build more intensive distribution Go selective: phase out unprofitable outlets
Advertising Build product awareness among early adopters and dealers Build awareness and interest in mass market Stress brand differences and benefits Reduce to level needed to retain hard-core loyals
Sales Promotion Use heavy sales promotion to entice trial Reduce to take advantage of heavy consumer brand Increase to encourage brand switching Reduce to minimal level
Source: Adapted from Kotler (2006)
Figure 2.0: The characteristic, marketing objectives and strategies in various stages of the product life cycle as proposed by Kotler (2006).

3 Marketing Strategies Model

Marketing objectives are what a company aim to achieve through the marketing plans to meet the business objectives by using the Ansoff;s Matrix or a simple SWOT analysis to ascertain the company’s existing position and which direction it is heading. Below are some brief explanation on Ansoff’s Matrix and SWOT analysis.

Source: Adapted from Kotler (2006)
Figure 3.0: Ansoff’s Matrix

The four strategies entailed in the matrix in Figure 3.0 are briefly explained below.

Market Penetration : Selling existing products into existing markets
Product Development : Selling new products to existing markets
Market Development : Selling existing products to new markets
Diversification : Selling new products in new markets

Another technique is the SWOT analysis, where it divides into two aspects, the inward looking, i.e., what are the strengths and weaknesses of the business, and the outward looking. i.e., what are the opportunities and threats from externally.

Source: Adapted from
Figure 3.1: SWOT matrix

4 Phases in the product life cycle and marketing strategy implications

Stage 1: Introduction
Consumer awareness and education are needed to ensure the clarity of the market. In addition, company usually executes product testing together with high promotional level. Product testing is important for evaluating the potential of a product, but it could be risky if company has no idea of the dangers involve or idea of the value. Promotion cost will be high as company will try to spread the words of their product. Perhaps some company will choose to have their products be available on selective outlets in the beginning to test their product. There might be frequent product changes as customer’s needs and wants as well as market needs become known, thus the high research and development cost. According to Kotler (2006), pricing tend to be high because the cost and promotion level are high, hence resulting in low profit and low sales volume.

A case for example, Cadbury Schweppes, who is a chocolate confectionary manufacturer, go trough a product development strategy, by developing a new Snap bar to achieve competitive advantage, targeting on young adults market segment. Refer to Ansoff Matrix in Figure 3.0, Cadbury is introducing its existing product to a new market, thus can be argued that it is under Market Development. Cadbury Snap was introduced after an intensive market research shown that Cadbury was least presented in young adults which were lighter eater. Consumer Interviews and product trial were carried out to determine the packaging options which resulting in carton packaging. Repacking is also one of Cadbury Snap main marketing strategy. By referring to SWOT analysis in Figure 3.1, through its financial power, strong brand name and product innovation, Cadbury employed a marketing strategy by launching campaign where the product is position in the confectionery section with a there day major sampling, as well, an intensive advertisement on TV, radio, newspaper for eight to ten weeks, to create consumer awareness and opportunity in a new market segment. With this combination of strength to develop a new product, it gave Cadbury opportunities and a competitive advantage over its price threat between competitors such as Hershey and Nestle. The Swot analysis can be identified in Table 4.0 below.

Strengths Weaknesses
– strong brand name
– Financial power
– Product innovation – level of identification of the brand is weakening
– customer loyalty rates is lower
Opportunities Threats
– New segment, young adult consumer
– strong competitors: Hershey & Nestle
– Price war between competitors
Table 4.0: Cadbury Snap SWOT analysis

After an intensive market research in developing a product, SmithKline Beechem launches their Lucozade Sport in 1991. To penetrate the market, Locuzade Sport promotes the brand with a great deal of advertising via TV as well as sponsorship campaign. They also widened their distribution to include the smaller grocery store, resulting in increase of customer awareness and market share. Lucozade built the existing product to target sports enthusiasts’, a new segment where this strategy can also relate to Ansoff Matrix as present in Figure 3.0, under Market Development. Through developing spending power, Lucozade Sport is able to carry out different forms of marketing strategy such as advertising and sales promotion to create consumer awareness and increased opportunity on a larger market share where Lucozade Sport will get an increase of sales volume.

Stage 2: Growth
At this stage, the competition is intensified as competitors are attracted by the opportunities and the increased of sales volume. The early adopters become interested and other buyers started to purchase the product, moreover, they begin comparing the features when buyers get to the store. Marketing guru, Philip Kotler (2006), stated that the pricing of the product may remain the same or fall slightly depending on how fast the demand increases. Although the sales increase much faster than promotional expenditure, as stated by Kotler (2006), it is still important to increase the sales volume ahead of the competition to reduce development cost and promotional efficiencies. According to Kotler (2006), during this stage, company will start to use different strategies to sustain the rapid market growth and to lengthen the growth stage. As Kotler (2006) stated, the different strategies are as follows:-
 Improves product quality and adds new product
 Add new models and flanker products
 Enter new market segments
 Increase distribution coverage and channels

Many established food brands are learning that the product extension strategy has a higher sales result and therefore most of the brands are offering more line extensions, flankers and spin-off product. A few case examples, Nabisco’s Big Stuff Orea offers a large 3 inch wide cookie to cater the general market segments while their Double Stuff Oreas was introduced to focus on the children segment to aim a different market segment which resulted in larger percentage of buyers and thus increased their market share. This line extension contributes to the existing main brand’s sales and profit volume. Mars chocolate bar introduces Mars Planets, chocolate malt nougat topped with layers of caramel and milk chocolate in 1932. Later, Mars Planet produced a new spin off product, Mars Planet a small ball chocolate which is similar to Maltesers as a result in higher return of sales and profit. The small bite size Mars Planet is focusing on the calories concern market segment.

Kit Kat was launched in 1937, since then it has become one of the best selling chocolate bars, thus it has built a strong brand leader in the market. Kit Kat is now in the growth stage where sales volume has increased tremendously throughout the years with an intensive competition where competitors have begun to introduce and improve their products. To lengthen the growth stage, Kit Kat performed a market research on consumer needs resulting in altering the existing product into current market, which can be relate to Ansoff Matrix, under Market Penetration, resulting in Orange, Mint and Dark Chocolate Kit Kat available only for a limited period of time. Marketing strategy employed by Kit Kat was creating new market segment by using a wide range of promotion offers which includes instant win-deal with Burger King and on-pack promotion featuring The Simpsons to win cash. To sustain its popularity over a long period of time, Kit Kat has spend a high advertising cost to create a theme “Have a Break, Have a Kit Kat”, through TV commercials and powerful colours poster. Through the existing broad consumer profile with product innovation, it has doubled the sales volume which can be related to SWOT strategy by using its strength to create opportunities. Kit Kat SWOT analysis can be identified as below.

Strengths Weaknesses
– strong brand name & image, number one selling confectionery brand – Undifferentiated product in relation to competitors
– broad consumer profile – customer loyalty rates is lower
– Product innovation
Opportunities Threats
– Moving into new market, internationally
– strong competitors: Hershey & Cadbury
Table 4.1: Kit Kat’s SWOT analysis

Stage 3: Maturity
According to Kotler (2006), sales rate is slowing down in this point, and product is entering a maturing stage where it last longer than the previous stage. Most products are in the maturity stage of the life cycle, and most marketing managers cope with the problem of marketing the mature product as quoted by Kotler (2006). The maturity stage can be divided into three parts: ‘growing maturity’ where sales rate continue to increase but at a slow pace; ‘stable maturity’ where sales rate is stabilized because of market saturation; ‘decaying maturity’ where absolute level of sales starts to decline as some customers moves towards another products. As per Kotler (2006) theory stated, this is where a shakeout begins where weaker competition started to pull out, and some companies started to abandon the weaker product and focus on more profitable products. Yet, there are companies who choose not to abandon the lower profitable product due to the strong brand positioning, bigger percentage of market share or to avoid the lost of certain larger market segment.

Lucozade creates another line extension with its Lucozade Sport as discussed under Stage 1: Introduction above, by targeting different and larger market segment with new packaging, more intense advertising and promotion, and widened distribution. Since then, Lucozade is experiencing a second growth phase which can also term as Cycle-Recycle Pattern as shown in Figure 1.3.

The Cadbury Snack is also an example of a brand at the maturity stage. The sales and profits volume are declining as the level of recognition with the brand weakens with a decrease of customer’s loyalty rates. Hence, Cadbury Schweppes extend the product life cycle by employing a marketing strategy by repositioning the brand to stay significant to modern customers as well as creating a new appeal to attract young working professional. As a result, they increase TV campaign advertisement to undergo a new appeal in packaging where it moved Cadbury Snacks from being perceived as a snack for older adults to fun loving younger adults. Cadbury Snacks falls under Market Penetration in Ansoft Matrix as its objective is to increase the level of existing consumer rate in buying the product into the current evolving market.

Strengths Weaknesses
– third biggest confectionery brand
– great consumer affection
– Product innovation – lower level of recognition of the brand
– customer loyalty rates is lower
Opportunities Threats
– New market segment
– New product extension
– strong competitors: Nestle
– Price war between competitors
Table 4.2: Cadbury Snack SWOT analysis

Stage 4: Decline
As market becomes saturated, sales and profits volume begin to decline and the product may become obsolete. In this stage, competitors may offer similar products resulting in company begin their effort to reduce the product price if the competition remains. In fact, laggards find it safer to buy the product in this stage and realized that all competing products are the same, thus company focus on reducing their promotional level. Companies decide to reduce a number of product lines or to rejuvenate the surviving product by making them look new again as well as creating new product or product extensions. Channels that are no longer profitable will be phase out.

A case study written by Lorett Ho on Vosene Conditioning Shampoo to replace the original formula, a marketing strategy to increase the frequency use of the product, which did not work well, consequently the management decided to phase out the product.

5 Limitation of Product Life Cycle

The product life cycle concept may help companies plan different marketing strategy in different phases of the product life cycle, but with the various patterns identified at present, companies have difficulties in identifying the patterns that is suitable to apply on the product. For example, a product may experience a slight maturity where market development strategy can be apply but it may concluded as an early decline therefore advertising budget is reduced thus the product heads into a downward curve. Furthermore, although products go through a life cycle, however all products will have different length of life cycle and this adds difficulty in identifying the suitable marketing strategy to be apply. According to Gabriel Steinhardt, it is inefficient to apply product cycle model to Brands even though it is closely related as product because both have different product life cycle altogether.

6 Conclusion

Product life cycle model is another tool for company to attain sustainable competitive advantages. From the case samples given, each stage of product life cycle can contain different marketing strategies or share the same marketing strategies depending on situation, for example Lucozade Sport in Stage 1: Introduction to create consumer awareness of its new product and Kit Kat in Stage 2: Growth to sustain its product’s popularity . To reposition a product requires company to identify the target market, rivalry and consumer’s behaviour as well as execute market research to create product differentiation which is the key for competitive advantage.

Although there are limitations to the product life cycle, companies are able to use the marketing tools to assist on identifying where the marketing strategy for each product life cycle stage.

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