• Unit 5: Product Life Cycle, Marketing Research, and Product Development

    The product life cycle, an important strategic concept, varies according to the product or service offered, and determines the extent and frequency of new product offerings. Marketing research informs the firm about consumer needs and purchasing characteristics to guide marketing actions. Product development is key to the firm's sustainable marketing activities.

    Completing this unit should take you approximately 5 hours.

    • 5.1: Product Life Cycle

      Successful marketers understand the concept of the product life cycle. Products have a life span, as they are not expected to last forever. The challenge that marketers face is low long the product life cycle will be, and what form will it take?

      • 5.1.1: Variations in Product Life Cycle

        The product life cycle is normally shown generically. However, not all product life cycles are the same in time or form.

        For example, we can look at a simple product such as baking soda, which has been a product in the marketplace for well over 200 years. On the other hand, when we look at technological products such as computers, printers, smartphones, and tablets, the life cycle is often measured in weeks, as new products are coming out rapidly.

    • 5.2: Marketing Research

      Marketing research is an important aspect of marketing. The goal of marketing is to identify consumer needs and satisfy those needs through the firm's offerings. How do we identify consumer needs? Does our product satisfy consumers' needs? What target markets are we attempting to reach with our offerings? These are questions that can be answered through marketing research.

      Marketers must consider "the self-reference criterion" when creating marketable offerings. As a simple example, a marketing manager may personally like the color navy blue, and therefore decides to offer his product in this color because she likes it. Does this satisfy consumer needs? Perhaps, but the point is we need to determine whether the color navy blue is attractive to the consumers in the target market.

      • 5.2.1: The Marketing Research Process

        Research is a process, and marketing research is no exception. Marketers must be informed by marketing research in order to make informed marketing decisions. It is important to recognize that the purpose of conducting marketing research is to define problems or opportunities and develop answers to the research questions for the purpose of decision making. Research without decision making is a waste of the firm's resources.

      • 5.2.2: Types of Marketing Research

        Marketing research is done using several types of methods. Marketers determine the problem or opportunity, and researchers determine what research method(s) will best answer the research question(s). The time and cost factors of research, and the resources available to the firm will often determine what research methods will be the most cost effective.

    • 5.3: Product Development

      Product development often occurs after the requisite marketing research has been completed and findings are reported. As we have seen in the previous section, products have a life cycle. Accordingly, marketers must be forward thinking and develop new products, or redevelop existing products, when their products approach the maturity and decline stages in the product life cycle.

      • 5.3.1: New Product Development

        New product development is a rather risky undertaking and should normally be undertaken after conducting marketing research. Those companies who develop new products are referred to as "first movers", wherein they perceive a need for a new product and a potential target market for the product.

        Often the "first movers" are later joined by the "followers" or "me too-ers" when the product is deemed to be successful. The followers incur less risk than the first movers and usually attempt to capitalize by improving on weaknesses of the new offering with their competitive offering.

      • 5.3.2: Product Redevelopment and Adaptation

        Product redevelopment, often referred to as product modification, is the progression of changes made to improve products, usually by changing one or several product attributes. Most of us are familiar with software upgrades, where software developers make regular changes or upgrades to enhance product performance and/or add features to a product. So, the term product development usually includes redevelopment and modification of different types over a period through the product life cycle.

        Product adaptation is similar; however, it typically involves a product modification for certain targeted markets. Product adaptation is more commonly applied to international marketing, where products must be adapted to the idiosyncratic buying behaviors of consumers in foreign markets. Changing the color of dish detergent for a foreign market is a simple example.

        Furthermore, some product adaptation is necessary due to regulations in a foreign market that require mandatory product adaptation. For example, to sell automobiles in the United States, the automobiles must be equipped with mandatory safety features such as airbags and be fitted with catalytic converters for environmental concerns.

        Sustainability is on the minds of consumers today. Companies that can adapt their products to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly generally find their products more attractive to consumers.

    • Unit 5 Study Resources

      This review video is an excellent way to review what you've learned so far and is presented by one of the professors who created the course.

    • Unit 5 Assessment

      • Receive a grade