Product Management
Product Marketing
News & Updates
Follow Us!
Product Management

The Decline of the Decline Stage

A look at how the subscription economy is blowing up the traditional product life cycle.

In an era where transformation trumps tradition every time, clinging to outdated product models is a recipe for obsolescence. Take a look around you: the traditional 'decline stage' itself is becoming extinct.

In its place, a consumer-driven push for a better model—one where continuous innovation and sustainability aren’t just buzzwords, but the key drivers of profit and longevity.

The subscription model and circular economy are not just trends; they are urgent imperatives reshaping the product life cycle, demanding immediate adaptation and strategic foresight.

Are you ready to rethink everything you know about the lifecycle of your products?

Redefining the Decline Stage in the Subscription Economy

The traditional stages of the product life cycle (PLC)—the introduction stage, growth stage, maturity stage, and eventually the decline stage—have long been the cornerstone of strategic planning.

However, a transformative shift is underway, driven by the rising prominence of the subscription product model and the principles of the circular economy.

This shift challenges the conventional wisdom around the decline stage of a product, heralding a new era of continuous product iteration, sustainable practices, and prolonged profitability.

WATCH: Learn how Kevin O'Marah, co-founder of Zero100, describes the "infinite loop" product cycle, replacing the decline stage with reusable material, feedback, and overall learnings from each product iteration.

The concept of a 'decline phase' in the PLC, typically characterized by a decrease in sales volume and market share, is being progressively upended.

Companies like Apple with its iPhone, and Netflix, in the realm of streaming services, have shown how the subscription model can transform the traditional decline stage into an ongoing development stage.

By focusing on new features, functionality, and consistent user engagement, these companies have succeeded in prolonging the growth phase, extending the lifespan of their products far beyond the maturity phase.

Here's a bit more detail about these increasingly pervasive trends:

Subscription Model: A Catalyst for Continuous Improvement

In the traditional retail model, products pass through different stages from introduction to decline. However, the subscription model allows for a more dynamic interaction with the target market.

This model fosters a continuous feedback loop, where new technologies and functionality can be integrated into existing products, negating the concept of a final decline phase.

As a result, products remain perpetually in a state of evolution, catering to ever-changing market segments.

Circular Economy: Paving the Way for Sustainable Product Development

The circular economy model emphasizes the reuse and recycling of materials, drastically reducing waste and mitigating the environmental impact of new product development.

This approach aligns seamlessly with the subscription model, where products like smartphones and other consumer electronics are regularly updated and recycled, rather than discarded.

The emphasis on sustainability not only appeals to environmentally conscious consumers but also opens up new markets for refurbished and updated versions of existing product lines.

Implications for Retailers and Product Managers

For retailers and product managers, this paradigm shift necessitates a reevaluation of the traditional marketing strategy. The focus should now be on maintaining customer engagement and loyalty through continuous improvement and adaptation.

Ideally, you’d need a product lifecycle management (PLM) solution that’s connected with product information management (PIM) to drive your product content directly to consumers, as well as a quality management system (QMS) that incorporates the customer feedback loop seamlessly back into the next product iteration. All on the same platform.

The only solution on the market with all these capabilities is Propel Software, with a user interface that’s cloud-based, flexible, and collaborative—crucial for navigating the intricacies of the subscription model and circular economy.

Adapting to New Market Realities

The transition to a subscription-based model demands a strategic overhaul in decision-making processes. Product managers must now prioritize functionality, differentiation, and customer engagement over traditional metrics like sales volume and market saturation.

The challenge lies in continuously identifying and leveraging new features that resonate with a diverse target market, as seen in the case studies of Coca-Cola and their evolving product line.

The Role of Technology in Facilitating Transition

To effectively manage this transition, adopting advanced technological solutions is paramount. Cloud-based, extensible, and highly collaborative software, with a central digital thread, becomes indispensable.

To that end, Propel offers a platform that enables product managers to swiftly respond to market changes, manage product iterations, and maintain high profit margins.

LISTEN: On the Platform Rules podcast, learn how updating your tech stack is key to saving time and resources on your product cycle, while simultaneously increasing sustainability and revenue growth.

Conclusion: Embracing the New Lifecycle Dynamics

The decline stage of the product life cycle is no longer an inevitable phase but an opportunity for reinvention and growth.

The integration of the subscription model and circular economy principles has led to more predictable inventory management, reduced waste, and lessened the reliance on planned obsolescence.

The call to action is clear: embrace these new dynamics using nimble, cloud-based software solutions like Propel Software to stay competitive and profitable in a rapidly evolving marketplace.

For product managers seeking to navigate this transformative landscape and maximize the potential of their products, exploring Propel Software's advanced solutions is the first step toward success.

Take a tour of the solution.

Share This Article
Post by
Zara Raza
Marketing Manager, Propel

Zara is a marketing professional with a demonstrated track record in SEO, copywriting, graphic design, and social media. Before Propel, she held marketing roles at a supply chain company and an EdTech company. She is a business graduate from University of California, Irvine.

Fun Fact: Her last name has the same letters as her first name.

View All From
Zara Raza