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.

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Response to Failure


What happens when someone makes a mistake that sends you through the roof? What happens when you want to rip a person apart for having made a mistake, even when he or she acted within the established guidelines?

First of all, it is important to recognize that those feelings are not a sign of weakness, they simply mean that you are human. The important thing is what you do with those feelings.

If you act on them immediately, more than likely you will destroy any trust you have established between the person and you. Any progress you have made in convincing people that it is okay to fail can be undone in an instant.

You will be better able to accomplish your objectives if you will abide by this unwritten rule: Never reprimand a person unless you are in full control of your own thoughts and emotions. This way you won’t say or do things that may result in momentary satisfaction in the short term but regret in the long term.

I am not suggesting that you never show emotion to your people that you let them know you are angry or upset. Showing your people how you feel can be quite beneficial at times, provided it is shown in an appropriate way and for the right reasons.

When you respond constructively to people’s failures you are doing the single most important thing you can do to let them know that it is okay to fail.

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.

Equal Employment Opportunity


For the last 5-6 decades, women and ethnic minorities have sought equal employment opportunities. These include the desire for a) equal pay for equal work; b) jobs for women and minorities in high-pay, high-prestige occupations—in approximate proportion to their members in the general population; c) a fair chance for women and minorities to be promoted to better jobs based on merit; and d) recognition of the special problems women and minorities face.

Even though the number of working women has grown many times faster than the number of working men, they are concentrated in clerical and service jobs, where they earn less than men for the same work—even when education and work experience are equal. Women also suffer from untrue stereotypes and absenteeism and emotional instability. And they sometimes have to do much better work than their male colleagues to be promoted.

Business can help create equal employment opportunity by providing women with role models—examples of productive and successful women—and by promoting them when they deserve it. Business can also offer flexible work schedules, day-care facilities, and leaves of absence for child-care when necessary.

Business can help minorities to achieve equal employment opportunities by actively seeking them as employees, by redesigning job requirements so as to rely more on skills and less on traditional backgrounds, by financially supporting minorities who want more education, and by placing minority employees in mainstream jobs where rapid promotion based on ability is customary. Many businesses are also helping minorities by buying some of their supplies from minority-owned small businesses.

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.

Public Relations Advertising


The past few decades have witnessed a substantial increase in the attention given by producers to their relations with various publics. There are many facets to public relations, which makes it difficult to develop a concise all-encompassing definition.

Public relations practice is the art and social science of analyzing trends, predicting their consequences, counseling organization leaders, and implementing planned programs of action which will serve the organization’s and the public interest.

Given the potential, advertising may provide an efficient instrument of communication in furthering the public relations of various firms.

Producers may have many “publics” to consider, including stockholders, employees, customers, prospective customers, professional educators, legislators, and citizen voters. All these and others have some interest in, and association with, specific firms. The attitudes that individuals and groups of people have toward the policies and practices of specific business institutions can have an important bearing on strikes, work slowdowns, consumer patronage, education of youth, and business legislation.

The means and ends of “public relations” advertising by producers are diverse. Generally, however, there is a common purpose—to favorably influence one or many of the firm’s public, in an inceasingly independent society.

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.

Slow Cycle Markets


Slow-cycle markets reflect strongly shielded resource positions wherein competitive pressures do not readily penetrate the firm’s resources of strategic competitiveness. In economics, this situation is often characterized as a monopoly position. A firm that has a unique set of product attributes or an effective product design may dominate its markets for decades. This type of competitiveness position can be established even in markets where there is significant technological change.

 

Although the idea of monopoly, which has a single seller, restricted output, and high prices, is largely disallowed because of government policy restrictions, subtle and more complex variations are possible at local markets.

 

Effective product design may enable the firms that produced them to dominate their markets for many years. These firms’ advantages are drawn largely from their special core competencies, because their resources and capabilities are difficult to imitate. Because these markets (and hence the firms that operate in them) are largely protected, they usually enjoy the highest average price increase over time. Alternatively, price increases in standard-cycle markets often vary closely around zero.

 

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, Line of Sight

Corporate Structure in the Global Economy


Corporate structures will be increasingly expected to deal with tension-producing forces, as well as compressive ones. Among them is the tendency for companies to become increasingly spread thin as they respond to an expanding multitude of masters. And it is likely that both employees and their governments will take their turn demanding greater attention to their particular needs and requirements. On top of these whiplash-inducing pressures will be the ongoing operational tensions arising from the continuing use of speed as a competitive weapon.

 

As if these ongoing pushes and pulls will not be enough of a challenge, most businesses will also face the requirement to be more flexible than ever in deploying and redeploying resources to mact the moving targets provided by customers’ requirements and competitors’ advances. The globalizing marketplace tends to be unforgiving when corporate inertia or bureaucracy limits flexibility. This degree of organizational elasticity—stretching to accommodate special situations, then returning to the original shape to meet regular demands—is already a necessity in many industries. Soon it will be mandatory in most.

 

A measure of plasticity will be needed, as well. The ability to change an organization’s shape, to adapt to new markets or to reconfigure around emerging capabilities, will be another dynamic quality in the repertoire of the new corporation. This attribute—the ability to reorganize completely every several years without succumbing to terminal brittleness—is a rarity in most companies today. But it will be common among those that thrive into this 21st Century.

 

Just as architects have never found a single, always appropriate building block for every structure, organization designers are also unlikely to find one. But the old building blocks of narrowly defined jobs used in tandem with traditional supervision are not working. Perhaps the lead of the architect can be followed, and companies can learn to select organizational building blocks that can be adjusted to cope with the forces they face at a particular time. In keeping with what has worked for the architect, organization planners can:

  • Reinforce jobs to ensure they have the strength to resist the tensions and compressions they must increasingly cope with.
  • Use the organizational equivalent of composites—teams—when job reinforcement alone is insufficient to provide the company with an appropriate degree of flexibility.
  • Make sure that the company’s managers are in load-bearing roles—ones vital to the organization’s structural integrity—and act as drivers of the business’s ongoing adaptability, rather than mere definers of unneeded internal walls.

 Reinforced jobs, composite teams, and load-bearing managers—these may well be the most useful raw materials from which the structure of the corporation is shaped.

 

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

Handling Failure Factors


Herebelow are some useful techniques for handling failure factors while building your business:

1) Square peg, round hole: the most important thing to remember is, don’t try to make something fit if it doesn’t. You may have a high level of expertise in the traditional paradigm, and many of those skills will serve you well in marketing. But be aware that others won’t. When you find a skill or technique just isn’t working in the new paradigm, don’t blame marketing—discard the technique. Also, be open to learning new ideas and skills that were designed with marketing in mind.

2) Don’t re-invent the wheel: After decades, the patterns for successful behavior in marketing are fairly established. It’s human nature to want to add our own flair to everything, but make sure you learn the basics first. Some people in past decades tried some ideas but they didn’t turn to be effective as they hoped. Don’t re-invent the wheel.

3) Work the plan, not the angles: Perhaps the most important general rule for avoiding unexpected failure factors is to focus on the simple business building system and stay away from sidelines and ‘new’ angles. You came to marketing to build a business, not to get bogged down in side ventures and alternative schemes. Indeed, it’s tempting to look for alternative ‘revenue streams,’ but the time you spend chasing these things would be much better spent invested in your core business. Once you’ve made a commitment to building a marketing business, that commitment should be total. Any side activity has the potential to draw away your focus—and your growing business can suffer.

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

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