According to the product life-cycle theory, almost any product passes five stages during its existence regardless the desire of manufactures and customers. These stages are birth, growth, maturity, decay and atrophy. To prevent the last two stages marketologists suggest improving the product in the early stages of its development.
The results of the expert statistics show that 90% of the world innovations are nothing more product developments. And only the remaining 10% mean launch of new products and technologies. The Japanese are considered to have achieved the remarkable results in constant product development. An outstanding expert Masaaki Imai has generated the concept of constant product development Kaizen. Though there is a great number of products that have not gone through significant changes over many years and nevertheless they hold stable inviolable positions in the world market. First of all it holds true for food: cereals, vodka, wines, most of the confectionery, cigars, etc. However the milk we drink today is not the same as it was say, 50 years ago. In the second half of the twentieth century we saw the milk in Tetra Pak packages with improved consumer qualities allowing us to keep it for months.
Nowadays when the products of different competition trademarks are becoming more and more similar it is extremely difficult to attain real improvement of their functional features. That is why the changes are more likely to be in design than in functioning. Besides the experts from Brand Lab stress that at present consumers regard product design as important as its functions. Here we have a great deal of examples: any successful design change is considered to be an improvement or development, rebranding and so on. Probably the most illustrative example of design change is computer mouth. Unlike the computer itself, which is constantly being improved and mostly in its functions the mouth has not practically modified since its birth in 1980s. But its design has been transforming cardinally all the time. It greatly rouses the customers interest in the product. Marketing managers are inclined to think that only marketing research can show the objective answer what particularly should be improved in the product.
A classic example of a successful survey – Kit Kat chocolate from Nestle. In 1990s this chocolate was positioned as the product for pleasure. It enjoyed good sales rates throughout the world. In 2000s in the west the consumers began to perceive the small bars of chocolate not as the product for pleasure, but as a means to appease hunger. Taking this fact into account Nestle launched Kit Kat in the form of a bar (and аt the same time began to produce Kit Kat of a standard size). It started a n advertising campaign with a slogan Have a break. Have a Kit Kat”. The sales rates of the chocolate again were moving upwards. So as we see from the above examples we must be aware of the fact that any product will become obsolete sooner or later.
Do not wait until it actually happens, and the sales rates dramatically are going down. Start your work on the product improvement when you are developing the product. Otherwise all the attempts to improve it later will turn into a waste of time, effort and money losses. Secondly, though it may in some way contradict the first postulate miracles do happen. That is why when the market is getting narrowed it does not mean that everything is lost and you have to let the product just die. Not so often but nevertheless there are cases when there are ways to improve this product, the market revives and even increases several times as much.