The Product Life-Cycle Concept

Because we live and work in a dynamic market situation, managers must accept as the normal state of affairs that all products have a limited life. This fact is commonly expressed in the form of the product life-cycle curve. Products during their existence go through the phases indicated on the curve, as follows:

1. Starting before, sometimes long before, a product reaches the marketplace, there is a development phase. Market research must be undertaken, the product designed, prototypes built, plants laid down. While costs can be very high, income will initially be nil and will probably grow only slowly. Profits are a long way off yet. Many products are slow to ‘catch on’ and this part of the curve typically does not rise steeply.

2. During the growth phase the product reaches general acceptance, and sales increase steeply. Profits mount as development costs are recovered and unit costs decrease with greater volume of production.

3. As the product reaches maturity, initial demand is beginning to be satisfied, competitors may have arrived on the scene, and there will be greater reliance on replacement sales. Sales increase more slowly, and profits come under pressure and may start to decline.

4. When the market is fully saturated, sales will ‘peak off’ and profits decline still further.

5. Finally, sales will go into definite decline and margins come under very severe pressure as it becomes increasingly costly to maintain sales at a reasonable level.

The curve for any particular product may be steeper or flatter, the time-scale may be longer or shorter. Some products seem to go on for a very long time. For this reason the pattern must be applied with care. In addition, we must be careful what we mean by a product in this context: for example, the market for glass has risen steadily over the past 50 years, but within this period the sale of lamp glasses has declined and that of milk bottles has risen steeply (to decline again in some countries in face of competition from waxed cartons or plastic and the change from doorstep delivery to bulk purchase from the supermarket).

Nonetheless the typical pattern stands as a warning that it is dangerous to rely too heavily for too long on one product, so that, as profit from one declines, profit from its successor rises to fill the gap. Ideally this will give a steadily rising profit for the company as a whole, even though some products have entered the ‘decline’ phase of the product life-cycle.

It must be emphasized that the product life-cycle diagram is not a rigid description of exactly how all products always behave. Rather it is an idealized indication of the pattern most products can be expected to follow.

There is nothing fixed about the length of the cycle or the lengths of its various stages. It has been suggested that the length of the cycle is governed by the rate of technical change, the rate of market acceptance and the ease of competitive entry. So, each year numerous new fashion styles are introduced, many of them to last only a few months. At the other extreme, a new aircraft must have many years of life if it is to be commercially worthwhile.

The main importance of the life-cycle concept is to remind us constantly of the three following facts:

1. Products have a limited life;
2. Profit levels are not constant but change throughout a product’s life in a way that is to some extent predictable;
3. Products require a different marketing programme at each stage of their life-cycle.

Implications of the Product Life-cycle

If we have to accept that no product will go on earning profits indefinitely, then we must plan so as to have a whole succession of new products coming ‘through the pipeline’. Peter Drucker has drawn attention to the need to keep all products under review to ensure that not too high a proportion are at the end of their life-cycle. He describes the following six categories:

1. Tomorrow’s breadwinners – new products or today’s breadwinners modified and improved;
2. Today’s breadwinners – the innovations of yesterday;
3. Products capable of becoming net contributors if something drastic is done;
4. Yesterday’s breadwinners – generally products with high volume, but badly fragmented into ‘specials’, small orders and the like;
5. The ‘also raps’ – generally the high hopes of yesterday that, while they did not work out well, nevertheless did not become outright failures;
6. The failures.

Product Elimination

From the product life-cycle concept and Drucker’s analysis of product categories, it follows that all products must be kept under review to assess their present and likely future contribution to profits. A common mistake of marketing management is to keep in the range products that have little or no prospect of contributing to profits. Products are kept in the range until they fade away, meanwhile consuming valuable resources, which could be more profitably utilised elsewhere. These marginal products lower the company’s profitability, and it is essential to control them.


What a Lawyer Must Prove to Win a Product Liability Case

Thousands of injuries occur each year in the United States from defective or dangerous products. Victims of dangerous defective products have legal protection under product liability laws throughout the country. These laws govern the legal rules that determine who can be held liable for the defect or danger to consumers.

In general, products sold to the public are required to meet common expectations of consumers. When those products have an unexpected defect, common expectations of consumers are not met.

More than one party could be held liable for injuries that occur from consumer use of a defective product. This includes all sellers that are part of the distribution chain for making the product. Parties that are potentially liable for a defective product include the manufacturer, parts supplier, wholesaler and the retail store from which the product was purchased by the consumer.

The type of defect will determine who is responsible for a liability claim. All of the specifics related to a product liability case may differ among states. However, there are certain elements that a lawyer must prove to win a product liability case for his or her client. These elements include:

  • Injury and/or loss was caused by the product
  • Product was defective
  • Manufacturer’s error led to flaw in product
  • Manufacturer failed to warn consumers about potential dangers
  • Product was used correctly

Product Caused Injury and/or Loss

An actual injury or loss is a crucial element for a lawyer in proving a product liability claim. Specifically, the injury or loss must be a direct result of the product’s defect. In some cases, demonstrating the link between an injury and product defect is straightforward. In other cases, proving that the defect caused the injury or loss is not so easy.

For instance, a client was injured in a car accident while driving a vehicle prone to flipping over. If there is evidence that the client was speeding when the accident occurred, the manufacturer could argue that reckless driving – not the design of the vehicle – caused the accident.

However, a client could suffer third-degree burns when a brand new electric tea kettle explodes because of a hairline crack. The client did nothing out of the ordinary while using the tea kettle and could have a strong injury claim.

Product is Flawed Due to Manufacturer’s Error

In addition to proving that the product caused an injury or loss, the lawyer must also prove that the same product is defective. For some cases, the defect could be the result of a problem at the manufacturing plant. For others, the defect is within the product design, which means that the entire product line is dangerous for consumer use.

A lawyer might have a harder time proving that there was a flaw in the product design. The most likely scenario is demonstrating that an unreasonable design created the danger. However, a product that has potential danger is not automatically a judgment against the manufacturer or supplier when an injury occurs.

There are times when designing a product in a cost-effective or reasonable way is not feasible. Consider the potential dangers of vehicle air bags. While they can cause serious injury to a driver or passenger, they can also save lives in certain collisions. Car manufacturers would argue that when alternative outcomes are considered, air bags are not unreasonably dangerous.

Manufacturer Failed to Warn Consumers of Potential Dangers

Typically, a lawyer might have a better chance at proving an injury or loss occurred from a defective design when the average consumer is not aware of the dangerous quality. A ruling in such cases may depend on whether the manufacturer failed to warn consumers of the potential dangers. The manufacturer or supplier must show that instructions and warnings were reasonably sufficient.

In this case, a client might suffer third-degree burns from an electric tea kettle because the steam valve is concealed by some part of the product design. An average consumer would expect to find a visible spout from where steam is released. Instead, the steam valve is placed in an inconspicuous area, which strengthens a defective design claim.

Proving defective design is problematic if the tea kettle included bright red stickers printed with the word “caution” and the user manual included warnings about the steam valve position. The legal question now becomes whether the warnings were adequate.

Injured Client Used Product Correctly

Generally, the lawyer’s client must use the product correctly; that is, the way the manufacturer intended the product to be used. Continuing with the tea kettle example, an example would be if the explosion occurs when used to heat water for an outdoor kinds’ pool is not the intended use.

If the kettle explodes and causes burns, the lawyer may not be able to prove manufacturer liability. The manufacturer is not required to make the tea kettle safe for use with an outdoor pool.

However, this does not mean that use of every product must conform to the manufacturer’s specifications. The key is proving whether the average consumer would or would not use the product in the same manner as the client. If so, the lawyer has met the reasonable expectation of use requirement.

Winning a product liability case involves deciphering often complex circumstances and establishing a good legal theory. A lawyer who is knowledgeable of product liability law and the litigation process will craft a strategy to prove the case. An immediate investigation into the facts surrounding the case could expose obvious defective issues. Further, expert testimony is often essential in proving that a defective design caused an injury and/or loss.

Best Life Coach for Personal Productivity

How is your personal productivity? Are you satisfied with what you are accomplishing? Do you wish you could do more? Is doing more possible? Those are some of the questions a coach would ask. We use the phrase best life coach in the title to accentuate the concept of living one’s best life.

When people are happy with how productive they are on a daily basis, they have a sense of satisfaction at the end of every day. They may suffer setbacks. But they realize that setbacks are inevitable.

If they are constantly ending the day with a feeling of disappointment, something is wrong. They might have set goals that are too high, impossible to achieve on a daily basis. Often though, the problem is that they failed to set any short-term goals at all.

Setting realistic goals is important, but not as important as defining personal productivity goals in the first place. If you have yet to define your goals, take some time to sit down and put them on paper.

In a quiet, unstressed setting, think about where you want to be in 10 years. Then move backwards in time. Think of it as if you were planning a car trip. What are the paths you will take to reach your ten-year goal?

A business coach would tell a company owner to do the same thing. 10 years is not the longest period of time that can be chosen. It is just an arbitrary number.

An individual might want to think in terms of retirement. “I want to be able to retire in 20 years with ample income from my investments to support me for the rest of my life.” That’s an example of an individual long-term goal.

Companies have different goals. There are profits to be made. Sales goals need to be defined. Plans for expanding may be a consideration.

There are many different things to consider. A business coach might talk to owners about their own personal productivity. The owners may want their employees to be more productive. While we often talk about looking at the big picture, it is important to look at the smaller parts. Those smaller parts combine to make up the big picture.

A business coach is helpful because of the unbiased viewpoint. A person inside of an organization has preconceived notions. He or she might think that it is the person down the hall who needs to be more productive.

An unbiased person can look at the scene and see something completely different. Think your personal productivity is good? Ask someone else to take a look.