Tag Archives: Retail Business

Long Live your Product (with Life Cycle Management)

Countless products are launched every year, landing in the market with a reason to be, a well thought out way to connect with the consumer and hope that the investment will pay off for the brand owner. But what comes next?

Product Life Cycle Management is the key to ensuring your brand thrives year in and year out. This post will help you understand its importance to your marketing strategy and give you the tools you need to identify the different stages of your products life cycle and strategies to maximise growth throughout.

What is Product Life Cycle Management?

I love a good analogy as much as the next marketer and this one was just too hard to resist.

Think of your product like roses in your garden, it is not enough to simply plant (your new product in the market), water it (with promotions occasionally) and expect it to flower year after year. At some point, its vitality is going to dwindle and you need to either deadhead them or dig them up and start again.

The product life cycle (PLC) refers to the stages a product travels through from launch to eventual obsolescence. Managing the PLC is an important part of your marketing strategy and guides you in adapting your approach by product, to ensure you are promoting, developing and phasing out products at the right time.

Four Stages of the Product Life Cycle

Product Life Cycle Management

1.      Introduction

This is identified as the launch stage of your new product.  Sales are increasing slowly, as there is currently limited awareness. Costs are high with large amounts of advertising and promotion required as well as the product development and production costs having been incurred.

The introduction stage will see your business operating at a loss and so this is the most critical stage in your product lifecycle, ideally  you want to move through this stage quickly. Understandably this is where the  highest percentage of failure occurs.

Strategies for success during the introduction phase:

  • Clearly define your market so that at launch you  are effectively targeting the consumer most likely to become your customer
  • Build a dominant market position, stand out from  your competition, don’t just be a “me too” product, have a unique reason for consumers to connect with over the competition
  • Pioneer something; be the first to launch, a true new product is rare but valuable (See Ideas and Innovation).
2.      Growth

Once awareness has increased and with an appropriate distribution strategy, you will identify that your product is in growth, which will be when you first break even (this will be discussed in next week’s post on Measuring Success) and begin to make a profit.

When your product is in growth, the market has accepted your product and consumers are trialling it. This is the time to increase your distribution to make sure you are matching supply of your product with demand.

During growth, naturally, competitors will enter the market. Noticing a new popular product will motivate them to launch similar products in order to capture some of the market (see Get Competitive with your Competitors).

Strategies for success during the growth stage:

  • Monitor pricing to ensure you stay competitive against new competitive offers
  • Confirm your actual customer matches your forecasted target customer and adjust your message. For example we have a launched a building and construction product for children, but on researching sales we find out it is popular amongst teens. We therefore want to ensure our marketing and promotions do not exclude teens by being too “childish”
  • Look for new distribution channels – use your sales history to sell the product in and growth your market share
3.      Maturity

Your product can be identified as being in its maturity phase when sales volume slows down and beings to plateau, that is becomes “stuck” at a certain level, stops growing and may be just slightly declining. This is the sign that action is needed or your product will begin to rapidly decline.

Products reach maturity for various reasons including competition reaching saturation, price wars giving unpredictable volume (this week’s special gets the sale) and the initial excitement for the product settling. This leads of course to a decrease in profit, both from a decrease in sales but also from an increase in promotional expenditure.

Strategies for success during the maturity stage:

  • Apple is the first company that comes to mind that demonstrates innovative product lifecycle management. Realising most mobile phone users are on 18 – 24 month contracts, Apple releases a new modified iPhone around every 18-24 months, by addressing that the current model is reaching maturity and releasing an update they effectively refresh the product lifecycle back to introduction and growth every two years. The result is a loyal following that feels they are up to date with the latest technology and will not move to a competitive offer
  • The Apple example illustrates the strategy of modify or relaunch. Create new news and interest around your product. Survey your customers (See Market Research ) to find out what is missing from your product; monitor your competition (see Get Competitive with your Competitors) and find out your competitive gaps; re launch your product to recapture market share and return your product to growth
  • Look for new users or new uses for your existing product and develop strategies to communicate and increase awareness for your product with these groups
  • Create new promotions, competitions and offers to maximise sales of your product while it is in its maturity phase
4.      Decline

This phase is identified by both a decline in sales volume and tapering off of profits. Allowing the product to reach decline should be strategic, meaning you identified the product in maturity and planned that it would not be refreshed, but instead would be deleted at some point in the future.

The choice to let a product decline can be as there is a new product planned for launch which will replace the current product but is not going to be positioned as an update or refresh.

Strategies to minimise loss during decline:

  • Minimise spending promotionally rather than trying to stimulate sales with competitions and discounts, allow sales to taper off naturally
  • Decrease the number of SKUs over time, so delete the worst performing sizes or colours first so you have a tighter offering in the market, then gradually run out of the product

The most important advice for using PLC management in your marketing strategy is to regularly review your sales volume and profitability; this is where the flags will be going up that will help you identify what stage your product is in, allowing you to plan your products life more effectively.

What stage in product life cycle is your product in? What are you planning to do, to maximise that stage?

Until next week L is for the life cycle of your products and also for the lifecycle of the rose, which evidently go from maturity back to growth every year, if only we could bottle that ability!

Mary-Anne

www.wiseupmarketing.com.au


Why your Retail Business needs a Facebook Page

Facebook pages have become the successful launching pad or website complement for many small businesses and WAHers (I am hereby coining this for “Work At Home ers”). For small businesses without a bricks and mortar presence, Facebook gives the opportunity to have a conversation and demonstrate the personality of the business and therefore bridge the service gap.

This post is going to focus solely on Facebook Pages for bricks and mortar businesses, with strategies to benefit both Retail and Professional Service industries.

This post assumes you have a Facebook page running for your business. If you don’t, please contact me at maryanne@wiseupmarketing.com.au, I can direct you to some fantastic articles and free eBooks that take a step by step approach to helping you get started.

Ask everyone – “Why not like us on Facebook?”

Once you have set up your Facebook Page it is important to let your clients know and to ask them to like you on Facebook.

  • Print a small strut card and place it on your reception counter or at your register
  • Update your business card with your Facebook page name
  • E Mail your database to announce the launch of your Facebook page
  • Add a Facebook news feed on your website homepage

Building up your offline clientele in your online space gives you the ability to extend your brand and promotional message so that it is regularly in front of your customers, keeping you top of mind.

What should your business “do” on the business page?

  • Use a profile picture of your shop front if you are in retail
    • This acts as a visual cue for your clientele. It reminds them who you are when you pop up in the newsfeed and when they walk past, too
  • Use a profile picture of your staff if you are in professional services
    • This reminds your clientele they know you personally when you pop up in the newsfeed and reminds them of the one on one relationships they have built up
  • Communicate in a style and tone that reflects your bricks and mortar business
    • Don’t be overly casual just because it is Facebook. Your Page is still a reflection of your brand and should align with your overall brand strategy
  • Post photos of new stock that has come in, stock that is on sale and people interacting with your stock
  • Post videos that are created in the workplace featuring staff and clientele
  • Educate your clientele by sharing relevant articles, think of the magazines you keep that are relevant, now look for those sort of articles and spreads online and share
  • Boast a little! Announce any awards you have been nominated for or better still, have won, congratulate staff members on achieving service milestones or on new qualifications. Keep building the sense of community
  • Announce events and invite clientele to attend

5 Ways Your Business can benefit from a Facebook Page

1.Profile Tagging

When clients come in, ask them if they have seen you on Facebook. If they say they like your page, tell them you plan to send them a shout out when they leave.

Kylie’s Hair and Nails had a great morning with Rebecca Appleton, we love your new look”

Profile tagging delivers in three ways:

1. Like a thank you card, it gives your clients a warm and fuzzy feeling of being important to your business

2. Through the newsfeed, it reminds your other clients of what you do and why they liked you

3. Through the newsfeed of your client, your business is promoted to a greater network, attracting new likes that are valuable

Always make sure you have told your client that you will do a shout out to ensure they agree. It could offend to shout out without warning.

2.Check In’s

“Check In” is usually done on an iPhone or Android phone whilst at a location. A user goes onto Facebook and selects the place they wish to “Check In” and this then broadcasts their presence across their newsfeed and on the page of the place
they have checked in.

So like a profile tag, it then means your business is promoted to the network of your client. To take advantage of checking in make sure when you set up your page you selected “local businesses and places” as your page category and entered in your full address. This allows your clientele to find you when searching and then can “Check In” when at your place of business.

Encourage “Check In’s” by offering special discounts and offers for clients who check in.

“If you “Check In” today, you’ll get 10% off”

We have developed process cards to take staff and clients step by step through the check in process. Get in touch if you would like a copy.

3.Photo Tagging

Like profile tagging and “Check In’s”, Photo Tagging also promotes your business to your client’s network. The additional benefit of photo tagging is you are promoting your products at the same time.

“Alice trying on our latest pair of Religion Jeans”

“Tom choosing between Aviators and Wayfarers, what do you all think?”

Photo tagging gives the opportunity to start a conversation between current clients and potential clients about your product range, further motivating potential clients to come and find your retail store.

4.Geographical Targeting

Another benefit you can tap into as a business with a physical location is geographical targeting. You can create a Facebook Ad campaign and target a radius around your business (smallest is currently 10 mile, which is 16km). This means your ad only shows to those who have selected their location and it falls within the radius you select. Instead of running an ad to everyone, or for example, shoe lovers, where there will be a lot of wastage, you can run your ad to shoe lovers within 16km of your retail location.

5.Reach clients outside of your location

Finally your business can benefit from having a Facebook Page by using it to extend your reach outside of your location.

Upload albums of your new arrivals, sale stock, most popular, offer free postage and free exchange for any Facebook orders. You may find you attract some new clients that your retail store could never service before, whilst also increasing the convenience for some of your existing clients to shop from home.

It is important to keep up to date as the rules of Facebook Pages are always changing; these tips are current at the time of publishing. I will endeavour to
update this post as changes occur.

Need help with your Facebook for business strategy? Our Mini Marketing Plan looks at all elements of your marketing mix and gives you strategies to grow that you can start working on immediately.

Until next week F is for Facebook and also for Frenemy (also known as your old boss)

Mary-Anne

Wise Up Marketing


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