The Product Life Cycle


Customer demands are constantly changing. There are many reasons for this, ranging from fashions to new regulations. Sometimes there are obvious patterns to demand. Another pattern comes from the product’s life cycle. Demand for just about every product follows a life cycle with five stages:

  1. Introduction. A new product appears and demand is low while people learn about it, try it and see if they like it—for example, palmtop computers and automated checkouts at supermarkets.
  2. Growth. New customers buy the product and demand rises quickly—for example, telephone banking and mobile phones.
  3. Maturity. Demand stabilizes when most people know about the product and are buying it in steady numbers—for example, color television sets and insurance.
  4. Decline. Sales fall as customers start buying new, alternative products—for example, tobacco and milk deliveries.
  5. Withdrawal. Demand declines to the point where it is no longer worth making the product—for example, black and white television sets and telegrams.

The length of the life cycle varies quite widely. Each edition of The Guardian completes its life cycle in a few hours; clothing fashions last months or even weeks; the life cycle of washing machines is several years; some basic commodities like Nescafe has stayed in the mature stage for decades.

Unfortunately, there are no reliable guidelines for the length of a cycle. Some products have an unexpectedly short life and disappear very quickly. Some products, like full cream milk stayed at the mature stage for years and then started to decline. Even similar products can have different life cycles – with Ford replacing small car models after 12 years and Honda replacing them after seven years. Some products appear to decline and then grow again—such as passenger train services which grew by 7 per cent in 1998 and cinemas where attendances fell from 1.64 billion in 1964 to 54 million in 1984, and then rose to 140 million in 1997.

One thing we can say is that product life cycles are generally getting shorter. Alvin Toffler says, ‘Fast-shifting preferences, flowing out of and interacting with high-speed technological change, not only lead to frequent changes in the popularity of products and brands, but also shorten the life-cycle of products.’

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Preparing Minutes


There are two primary rules for minute preparation:

  1. Write Minutes as Soon as Possible: Time edges into memory faster than most people realize. Events which just took place are more clearly in mind than those occurring 24 hours ago. Write minutes as soon as possible after a session. Do not delay minute preparation. Notes are grand, and the better your notes, the better the minutes you will write. But notes are no substitute for accurate recall plus notes. This is why, in the absence of a manager being assigned to record the minutes, the group leader should either take full responsibility for the task or, immediately, at the beginning of the meeting, assign it to someone. Recall is important. That’s why the minutes should always be done as soon after the session as possible. Not as soon as convenient. As soon as possible. The minutes should never be written by anyone other than a person in attendance who took notes. Those notes, no matter how copious, passed to someone who was not in attendance, will not produce quality minutes.
  2. State Important Facts Briefly but Thoroughly: When writing the minutes, be brief but be as thorough as possible. In minutes, the requirement is names and dates and figures. Many minutes recount each motion and even the major directions and positions in the discussions. Too few tell who forged those directions and who took and/or held those positions. To be valuable, minutes must be thorough.

 My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight