(Posted by Tim Bearup and Anthony Gunn)
Product Life Cycle (PLC) is a common metaphor for the stages that a product goes through in the marketplace: introduction, market growth, maturity and decline.
Companies are advised to plan for each stage from the outset so that they can align their level of investment in the product and determine when to release new products to ensure they are not caught throwing good money after bad ‘flogging a dead horse’.
Reading between the lines of some recent promotional material I noticed on TV, it seems that Channel Nine is taking this model seriously with the impending launch of their new home reno show: “Renovation Rumble”.
“The Block” has been experiencing a significant decline in viewers, and it would appear this new show is intended to be its replacement (however I suspect Channel 9 won’t admit to this until they know for sure that its new show is successful).
This decision to divert marketing resources away from The Block as its primary home reno show and into this new product has not been made before milking a vast array of brand extensions including: The Block, the Block 2, The Block 2010, 2011, 2012, All Stars, Sky High, Fans Vs Favs, Glasshouse and finally Triple Threat.
When examining the plans for the show, one cannot help but appreciate the stroke of genius in the construction of their new product (excuse the pun). Renovation Rumble will be hosted by The Block’s Scott Cam, and will feature previous contestants from The Block as well as previous contestants (now out of contract) from Channel 7’s House Rules. Thus, rather than starting from scratch, the launch of the ‘new’ product will capitalize on their own previous investments along with the investments of their Channel 7 competitors.
Therefore, this product starts from the outset with high levels of consumer familiarity and emotional connection with both their existing viewers and with those of their competitors – thus enabling them to penetrate the home reno/reality TV watching market segment even more deeply.
However, there are some critics of the Product Life Cycle (PLC) model who believe that in many cases the demise of a product is not inevitable, but it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy when a company believes it to be a natural path and invests/promotes the product accordingly.
Perhaps a stark case example of why the PLC should not always be followed to the letter is that of the Old Spice aftershave. In anyone’s language this product was a ‘has-been’ that had been relegated to old and passing generations. When I was a child I can remember my mum telling my dad to stop using it because it was for old people even back then! If there was ever an example of a product that should be killed off and replaced according to the PLC model – this would surely be it.
But not so… Proctor and Gamble purchased the brand and through some very clever and highly invested marketing – they successfully resurrected Old Spice to a new generation without so much as tweak to the scent, the name or the logo (but the brand has been turned on its head!).
So it makes me wonder, is the Product Life Cycle theory actually valid, or is it just a self-fulfilling prophecy that starves a product into an otherwise avoidable death?