©Linda Gorchels (2011)
Product managers who have downstream responsibilities are heavily involved with product lifecycle management. When dealing with existing products, product managers are expected to do one or more of the following: (1) reinforce and protect sales of “core” and secondary products, (2) renew and revitalize sales of products that should be strong but have begun to falter; (3) relaunch or resurrect selected products or concepts; and/or (4) retire failing products.
A “reinforce” product generates a good income stream, but might not justify significant marketing expenditures. It may be a secondary product that doesn’t face much competitive pressure, or it may be a core product that has strong brand equity. In either case, the product manager will look for ways to protect market share and prevent losses to the competition, preferably with minimal cost outlays.
Renewal products require revitalization; they can be at any stage of the product life cycle, but are not performing at a level objectively determined as possible. These products require specific demand creation activities – to gain increased usage or market penetration – as described in the next few chapters.
Relaunch (or resurrect) products are those that have been ignored or even discontinued, but now seem to have value in the current environment. This could be due to technology growth, change in the competitive arena, or even a sense of nostalgia. These products might generate revenues through a relaunch campaign.
Finally, products that are either clearly not competitive in the product category or at the end of their life cycle are candidates for elimination (or retirement). These products are identified by a noted decline in sales, a lack of ability to achieve goals, or the development of a superior product that redefined functionality. Products in this category can pose unique challenges when a key customer “clings” to the product despite its unprofitable status to your firm.