Decloration In the case of most products, the declination stage, measured by the volume of sales of the total category, is inevitable for one of the following reasons: •
A better or less expensive product is created to satisfy the same need. The microprocessors made many replacement products possible, such as manual calculators (which returned the sliding calculation rules obsolete) and product mixing strategies
Seeing little opportunity to achieve revitalized sales or profits, most competitors leave the market at this stage. However, perhaps a few companies manage to create a small market niche and continue to have moderate success in the decline stage. Some wood stove manufacturers could do this.
Duration of the life cycle of the product The total duration of the life cycle, from the beginning of the introduction stage until the end of the decline, varies through the categories of products. It covers from a few weeks or a short season (when it comes to dress fashions, for example) up to many decades (cars or telephones). And it varies from the differences in the duration of the individual stages of a product category to the next. Moreover, although Figure 9.2 suggests that the four stages of the life cycle encompass almost equal periods, the stages in the life cycle of any given product are usually prolonged by different lapses. Figure 9.3 shows three variations in the typical life cycle: •
In one, the product conquers the broad acceptance of the consumer only after passing through an extensive introduction period (see Part A). The fat substitutes, such as Olestra, can be used in the preparation of groceries that go from the fried potatoes to cream ice cream. However, this category of product seems to be stopped at the stage of introduction of its life cycle, perhaps by changes in consumer attitudes relating to fat in food or concerns about possible collateral effects, such as abdominal pain. 17 In another variation, the full life cycle begins and ends in a relatively short period (Part B). This variation illustrates the life cycle of a very fleeting fashion, a product or style that becomes immensely popular almost overnight to fall from consumer favor almost as quickly.