Product life cycle

What is a product life cycle?

All products or services created or provided by your business have a life cycle. This is the period that runs from the initial idea and development of a product to its withdrawal from the market and beyond. Read about how to understand the impact of goods and services across their life cycle in our guide on ecodesign for goods and services.

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Depending on the type of product or service you launch, the length of a product's life cycle will vary substantially. For example, a fashionable item may have a life cycle of only a few months, whereas an everyday item may have one lasting years.

A product's marketplace life cycle typically goes through the following main stages:

  • development - the product or service is designed and physically created
  • introduction - the product or service is launched and marketed to a small group of customers
  • growth and maturity - the product or service is marketed to a wider audience and further iterations are produced
  • decline - the product or service either comes to its natural end or is re-developed

To understand more about the levels of revenue generated at different stages of a product's life cycle, see our example product life cycle curve below.

Example product life cycle

When developing a new product or service you should assess the following key points:

  • design - how efficient the product is, how it can be produced and how it can be easily manufactured
  • materials - how you can use the best or most cost effective materials to increase profit margins, improve the environmental impact of your product, or reduce financial risk
  • manufacture - how to make the manufacturing process more efficient, or reduce costs
  • retail - how to optimise costs incurred through packaging or transportation
  • use - how you can make the product or service last longer in order to increase customer satisfaction
  • end of life - how materials or ideas from your service or product can be recycled

You need to think about how each of these will affect the various areas of your profitability.

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