Marketing strategy approaches for each stage of the PLC

Marketing mix strategies during the introduction stage

  • Offer a basic product with limited choices, as this also helps test the overall market demand/interest, while keeping costs and logistic challenges relatively low
  • Use marketing communications (IMC/promotion) that are effective in generating initial awareness and reaching innovators. Often specialist websites/blogs and magazines provide a specific audience, as well as utilizing mailing lists of innovators from the customer database
  • While the marketing communications program should seek to generate simple awareness, it also needs to start to communicate one or two benefits relative to the existing product solution in the marketplace – this is important in building clear positioning over time
  • Promotional efforts also need to be targeted at retailers and distribution channels (trade/push marketing), as these relationships will be effective in generating sales and awareness and long-term word-of-mouth. Also stronger retailer relationships will provide protection in a potentially competitively aggressive growth stage that will follow the introduction phase
  • Free samples may be effective in generating initial trials – or some other similar from of sales promotion that is capable of putting the product in a potential consumer’s hand
  • Pricing needs to be balanced between being attractive enough to reduce the initial purchase barrier, yet high enough to try and recoup costs – this is not always possible with a new product that lacks latent demand

Marketing strategies for a growth stage market

  • Introduce a variety of product offerings (product line extensions), in order to reach new market segments and to defend against new competitors
  • Increase scope of relevant retailers and distributors, and try to develop exclusive channels where possible, again to defend against new players
  • Progressively focus marketing communications on broader/mainstream channels (as opposed to specialist communications) – targeting early adopters/opinion leaders and then onto the early majority (please refer to adopter categories)
  • Provide more detailed information about the products and its competitive advantages and/or any technology breakthroughs, relative to established products – as this will start to build a clear market positioning
  • Reduce emphasis on price competition, where possible, in order to create a clear long-term reference price and to communicate strong brand quality
  • Start to consider customer loyalty programs in order to maintain market share over the longer-term

Marketing strategies for the mature stage of the PLC

  • Introduce product line extensions (PLE’s) and other variations in order to saturate/dominate the market and capture solid market share of different target markets. Also look to provide an incentive for consumers to purchase the product more frequently (often achievable through sales promotion tactics)
  • Maintain a clear brand positioning and continue to build brand equity
  • Attempt to create an emotional engagement with the brand and look to leverage consumers who are very positive supporters/advocates of the brand
  • Increase focus on social media and brand engagement communication channels
  • Retain key retailer relationships and work towards good in-store placement and being the preferred brand for the retailer
  • Implement stronger customer loyalty programs and/or incentives
  • Stabilize pricing, but relative to competition and brand strength – in order to communicate superiority and stability and overall brand quality
  • Look for opportunities in international markets
  • Look to grow share of customer, as opposed to acquisition of new customers

Marketing strategy for the decline stage of the PLC

  • Progressively reduce overall product line and variations – as this will help reduce costs and logistics structures
  • Potentially reduce communication and advertising expenditure, in order to further reduce costs
  • Progressively reduce smaller and less supportive retailers over time – again with a focus on logistics efficiency and maintaining profitability as much as possible
  • Look to low-cost ways of selling products to repeat long-term customers – perhaps through an online channel or some form of regular purchase plan
  • Where possible, look for repositioning opportunities to “reinvent” the product category in the marketplace
  • Pursue opportunities in international markets
  • Remember that it is generally more important to focus on profit levels, as opposed to sales revenue or market share goals


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