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Product life-cycle management (or PLCM) is the succession of strategies used by business management as a product goes through its life-cycle. The conditions in which a product is sold (advertising, saturation) changes over time and must be managed as it moves through its succession of stages.
The goals of PLC management are to reduce time to market, improve product quality, reduce prototyping costs, identify potential sales opportunities and revenue contributions, and reduce environmental impacts at end-of-life. To create successful new products the company must understand its customers, markets and competitors.
It is important for marketing managers to understand the limitations of the PLC model. It is difficult for marketing management to gauge accurately where a product is on its life cycle. A rise in sales per se is not necessarily evidence of growth, a fall in sales per se does not typify decline and some products, e.g. Coca-Cola and Pepsi, may not experience a decline.
Differing products possess different PLC "shapes". A fad product develops as a steep sloped growth stage, a short maturity stage, and a steep sloped decline stage. Products such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi experience growth, but also a constant level of sales over a number of decades. A given product (or products collectively within an industry) may hold a unique PLC shape such that use of typical PLC models are only useful as a rough guide for marketing management.
For specific products, the duration of each PLC stage is unpredictable and it's difficult to detect when maturity or decline has begun.
Because of these limitations, strict adherence to PLC can lead a company to misleading objectives and strategy prescriptions.