Planning: Early Maturity Stage

Characteristics
  • Competition: By far the fiercest competition takes place as marketers move to grab customers from weakened competitors. At this stage, many competitors fail or merge with others.
  • Target Market: Little or no growth is occurring as the market is saturated or the target market looks to other product to satisfy their needs. Laggards may start buying but only if they can no longer purchase products they previously purchased to satisfy their needs.
  • Product: Many products are still marketed though some level of product standardization has occurred. Any new models introduced do not lead to major improvements in product performance or benefits offered, but instead offer minor incremental improvements.
  • Prices: The average price continues to fall possibly below cost as competitors attempt to remain in market. Price wars occur in many segments.
  • Promotion: Heavy competitive advertising and extensive promotions take place with the objective of getting existing customers to switch (for their repeat purchases).  The same occurs in the distribution channel as marketers try to encourage distributors not to drop from their inventory.
  • Distribution: Distributors continue to reduce their inventory and promotional expense for the product form.  They also become very selective on the products they will carry. At the retail level, shelf space begins to decline for the product form.
  • Profits: Industry profits fall rapidly and many firms lose money as they increase spending in hopes of remaining in the market.
Brand Strategy

In the early part of the maturity stage, the key objective is to enact strategies that enable a product to survive in the face of strong competition driven by decreasing demand. In fact, marketers may be happy following a Status Quo strategy that is intended to just maintain their market position. Unfortunately, this may prove difficult as this stage (often called the “shakeout stage”) leads to many products failing or being absorbed by competitors (i.e., companies merge with competitors, companies sell products to competitors).

In order to survive, marketers may need to resort to tactics designed to “steal customers” from others, which often involves significant price promotions (e.g., heavy discounting) or strong promotions intended to improve image or solidify a niche. Marketers who have avoided competing on price may be in a better position to weather the storm if they have convinced the market they offer special features that few others offer. This can be the case if they have successfully established a strong position in a niche market.

Maturity Stage of the PLC
Extending the PLC