If you are looking for a good example of how the Product Life Cycle (PLC) works, then check out this story from USA Today. The focus is on the craft beer market, and all signs in this market suggest it is following the classic PLC model.

As an industry, we should actually view this as a second coming. As the story notes, craft breweries have been around for hundreds of years and in the U.S. had topped over 2,000 way back in the 1880s. Of course, Prohibition changed that, and it was not until the 1990s that we see what we now refer to as the craft beer market truly starts to grow.

As we note in our PLC tutorial, market growth will always attract competitors and that is clearly the case now with over 2,500 breweries currently operating.

But as PLC theory also teaches us, this market cannot continue to grow. A shakeout is on the way. When that will happen is anyone’s guess, though it is reasonable to assume that 10 years from now the U.S. will likely have far less than 2,500 craft breweries.

Who would have believed small booksellers can compete against the likes of Amazon and Barnes & Noble? Well, the small bookstore owners have always felt they could, if only they could figure out how. Well, it seems they have done just that. Despite doom-and-gloom predictions from just about everyone, independent bookstores are surviving and, in some cases, thriving. Sure they suffered for many years, and a large number went out of business.

Yet, as discussed in this Fortune story, many book retailers are doing better because they followed basic marketing principles by first finding out what customers wanted and then offering it to them. In this case, they learned that their customer base will shop there more often if they feel a connection to the store. Retailers have responded by building a sense of community by offering more events, such as author readings and lectures.

They have also learned customers want more product options at these stores resulting in an expansion of their offerings including adding new product categories, such as greeting cards, and new services, such as adding cafes.

One marketing decision that often is overshadowed by more glamorous aspects, such as product design and advertising, is that involving product labeling. As we note in this tutorial, labeling typically involves the imprinting of information on product packaging or, in some cases, on the product itself (e.g., sticker on an apple).

While this area of marketing may not capture a high level of marketers’ enthusiasm, it is something that can receive significant attention from customers, government regulators and non-profit groups. For instance, an issue with labeling is raised in this story where the value of expiration dates that appear mostly on food and drug products is questioned.

According to this story, the dating that appears in the form “use by” or “sell by” or “best by” dates is often misleading and the groups researching this issue, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic, claim customers are clearly confused. The result, they say, is that customers end up spending more because they are trashing products well before it goes bad. Because of this, these groups recommend changing how these labels are presented including changing “sell by” dating so only retailers can see it and creating a uniform dating system to apply to nearly all products.

Just now getting around to some stories in magazines that were released earlier in the month, and this is a fascinating one. Back when e-commerce first took off (late 1990s), online retailers were generally exempt from having to collect sales tax for sales to customers where sales tax is charged (45 U.S. states and the District of Columbia). For instance, Amazon.com based in Washington State was not required to collect sales tax from a customer who was located in Pennsylvania.

Much of this stems from a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said retailers did not have to collect sales tax unless they had a physical presence in the state. While back in 1992 this decision primarily applied to mail order retailers, once online selling took off it was viewed as also covering that retail channel. This, of course, gave online sellers a nice advantage in terms of the final price customers had to pay.