While all products have a limited lifespan, the product lifecycles of consumer electronics and telco products grow, mature and decline at a much faster rate than most other categories. So, whether you’re a manufacturer, wholesaler or retailer of tech products, it’s vital to understand the typical lifecycle of these products.
This way, you’ll be able to make wiser decisions and capitalise on your products before the market becomes too saturated, and you’ll also be more proficient at managing your inventory. Read on to discover more about the technology lifecycle and what it means for you.
What is the technology lifecycle of products?
There are four phases of the technology product lifecycle:
In this section, we’ll break each phase down to fully comprehend how the lifecycle works.
There are actually two stages in this first phase of the tech product lifecycle. For product creators, research and development of a product will take place to provide insights that will help create a viable product. This is where developers test ideas to ensure the product will meet the needs of customers.
The second stage of phase one occurs when the product is ready for sale and is launched into the marketplace. As yet, the product is unproven and sales will generally be slow in the beginning, and ideally experience an increase over time if the product is well marketed and has consumer appeal.
This phase kicks in sometime after the product goes to market and sales start to spike. Some people refer to this as the “take off” stage. This is the phase where sellers really need to capitalise, and quickly, as the market can rapidly flatten out once it becomes saturated with similar product offers from competitors.
This is the time to take full advantage of having the newest and greatest product out there, and cash in while the sales last. It’s essential to have effective marketing strategies to keep momentum going, and make the most out of the Ascent phase of the lifecycle.
Sales are generally stable during the Maturity phase. Consumers have embraced your product and believe in it. To keep sales going, you may need to find ways to add further value, like bundling your product with another product. Sales are not likely to experience another spike during this phase.
Sales of your product are now on the slippery slope of decline. Competitors may have saturated the market with either similar products, or a product that is more technologically advanced, or other external factors have diminished the need for the product – eg: cable companies introduced digital recording which wiped out TiVo – the first Digital Video Recorder.
It’s important to be well prepared in advance of this phase, by having a newer and better product to bring to market well before your current one goes into decline.
Navigating tech product value in a saturated market
Depending on the product and the state of the market, technology products that consumers embrace fully might enjoy anywhere from one to three years in the Ascent phase of the technology lifecycle. Some products are lucky if they enjoy sales growth for a full twelve months or so.
Once products enter the Maturity phase and sales plateau, it can be a real fight for survival to stave off plunging into the Decline phase. With so much competition for market share, somewhat obsolete products can lose their value fairly rapidly.
By this stage, there are often better tech products available in the Development and Ascent phases, looking to acquire a decent slice of the market pie. When a product first reaches maturity is the best time to plan the launch of your next new product.
Always be planning what to do with your inventory
Now that you have a clearer picture of the technology product lifecycle and the potential lifespan of a product in the Ascent phase, it’s imperative that you’re regularly planning what to do with your inventory.
With one or two years in the Ascent phase being fairly typical and three years being exemplary, you should be planning very early on how you’re going to sell or liquidate your stock once it reaches Maturity and ultimately, Decline.
As the lifecycle length will differ from product to product and market to market, we recommend evaluating product performance and stock levels quarterly, and plan your strategy so your stock doesn’t reach a “distressed” stage.