Product Life Cycle Stage 5: Decline Phase

All products inevitably reach the decline phase of the product life cycle. A market-leading product may last longer than others, but it too will reach decline. There are multiple reasons for a declining product including:

  • Changes in technology
  • Product innovation coming in from around the world
  • Changing habits and attitudes of newer generations of consumers
  • Planned obsolescence to ensure that customers buy newer models as replacements. There is a lot of debate around whether this approach is ethical, and the impact it has on our planet.

The start of the decline phase is marked by a reduction in sales figures. There is often no way to alter the destiny of the product without dramatically altering the product’s features or market segment. To deal with decline, companies typically have multiple product offerings in various stages of the product life cycle to ensure that revenues don’t decline.

Here are some of the ways to address decline:

  • Address a different market segment or market altogether (international markets are a great way to do this)
  • Add new features to make it a new-ish product
  • Reduce prices, clear out the existing inventory, then put the product in end-of-life and discontinue it

Supporting existing products that are at end-of-life or end-of-support can be challenging and add to costs. Helping existing customers that are still using such products to upgrade by offering discounts is a good strategy to wind down the older product and cut down on support costs.

As a product manager, during the decline phase, you will need to:

  • Figure out ways in which you can pivot the product to a new market segment or even a new market altogether
  • Manage the end-of-life stage of the product and ensure that you meet all legal commitments while keeping costs to a minimum
  • Upsell existing customers to newer products/variants