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Custom Product Life Cycle Management Plan essay paper sample

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Introduction

The following is a review of the product life cycle management plan for i-pad which is a product of the Apple Company. The company is working hard to realize more innovations and discovery that would enable the product gain the worldwide standards in the near future. Product is a form of tablet computer that has the ability to provide multi-touch interaction with other forms of media: ebooks, textbooks, movies, magazines, newspapers and photos. Ipad provides an easy version of mobile internet browsing and access to iTunes Library and iBooksStore. Any content can be downloaded easily using the product’sMulti-Touch and 3G connectivity. As a result the product has two segments of customers, the primary the secondary segments. The primary market segment includes individuals who use the internet, games, TV shows, and Music and have the means of purchasing this kind of technology. The secondary market segment includes people who need to be early adopters of technology and may not have the personal means of  buying the product though they act as the influencers through the relationship of the buyer or/ and the decision maker. Those customers who wish to become early adopters of the technology area bout sixteen percent of those who have so far adopted the technology (Lymbersky, 2008). This category of customers will still be the late adopters of the technology.

Introduction stage of the lifecycle

Ipad is still in the introduction stage of the lifecycle and such it is still in the awareness stage to make the customers aware of its existence. Apple released this product in April 2010 and after 80 days; it had sold three million devices. Since iPad has the ability to run its own applications and those developed for the iPhone, it is expected to have a high number of users. As such, the product did not have a high number of customers during the initial stages but it is expected that the sales will increase in the near future.

Product

Apple designed iPad to provide platform for audio and visual media. The product weighs about 700 grams and its size range between that of smartphone and laptop computers. The operating system of this product is the same as that of iPod Touch and iPhone. It is controlled by multi-touch display as opposed to older versions of computers which were controlled by pressure triggered stylus. The product uses Wi-Fi data connection for internet browsing or software installation. However, there are other versions of iPad that use 3G data collection. Apple’s market strategy is to secure a position in the technology industry and acquire the highest market share. This is would be achievable if Apple would be able to make the produce have the right technical specifications, quality and features.

Primary Target Market

The number of people who use internet, internet games, TV shows, and Music is very high. This category of people who have the ability to purchase this technology forms the main primary market for iPad (Johnson, Herrman, & Huber, 2007). The name of the reputation of the product since it was released has been high. Apple should use this opportunity to the highest level make sure that the product gains a worldwide usage. Apple should work towards improving the connectivity of iPad while using wireless networks. This can be achievable by the use of WI-FI network trilateration from wireless networks like Skyhook. All iPad models should be modified to be like the 3G model whose position can be determined by us of GPS technology. Such a model has a black plastic gadget that helps to improve its radio sensitivity when close to cellphone towers.

Secondary target market

Customers in this segment include those people might have used some old versions of i-pad or i-phone. The decisions made be these customers regarding the product could be influenced by the consumers in the primary target segment. The quality of the product should be good so that it can b able to influence the majority of people who might not have any interest in the use of the new gadget. This is particularly important because there still so many people who still use earlier versions if iPod and I Phone yet iPad could have been the best option for them.

Place

Many marketing professionals view marketing channel at the introduction phase in a similar way. They view that when a company uses the same channels it has used to introduce new products to the market to introduce a product it is likely to succeed. However, such channels should be determined by the track records of the old channel, if history indicates a success story in distribution of the product, then, the channel can be used. Since Apple has been in the technology market, for a long time, it already has an effective marketing channel which it should maximize when introducing iPad. These channels could the more than 300 outlets that are advertised on its website.

Primary Target Market

The distribution channels for the primary market segments should be determined in a selective manner. According to Kotler and Keller (2009), the right distribution channels for the primary target segments are those that have shown the ability to handle iPad in a huge an extensive market. Such channels should still be able to control the distribution and maintain low costs of distribution while compared to the case of intensive distribution.  In order to have an effective distribution channel, apple should diversify its existing distribution channels: e-commerce and in-store sales channels that are by retailers in different places. This can be achievable if Apple can train its staff and the retailers on how to handle their customers in order to satisfy their demands. Another important strategy that Apple can apply is to enhance partnership with other companies that provide WI-FI and 3G connectivity. Such a partnership is based on mutual benefits can assist Apple produce programs that share the same technology thereby providing the customers with what they require in easier way.

Secondary Target Market

The secondary market segment as mentioned earlier is the segment is composed of the customers who might have heard about iPad never had a chance to use the product. The kind of segment influenced by the kind of relationship that Apple has with other companies like Nintendo (Wii) which produces similar products.

Price

Apple has set the price for iPad slight high as with the case of many technologies. The prices are set high at the early stage since the early adopters are willing to pay high prices for the new product. Apple set the prices high at this stage but the prices are expected to fall in future in order to attract more late adopters.  Price skimming takes place at this stage because price is used as proxy for value by the early adopters (Simpson & Jiao, 2006). Various parameters like costs, prices, values and features that are offered by competitors should be fully analyzed. In addition, Apple should consider the reputation of the brand and analyze the customers’ views when setting the price of the product since these factors play a major role in determining the decisions that the customers would make when purchasing the product.

Primary Target Market

Apple should make pricing decisions for the quality product without any fear of what other stakeholders would say about it. Reviews of the iPad have not been had so far. IPad has been termed as a product that is technology minded while other reviews have termed its being non-technology minded to the people. For instance, one of the negative reviews has considered laptop computers as being offered at cheaper prices when compared to the iPad. It has also been found out that since the audience is able to understand the concept of the iPad, they can develop skills on how to use. Normally, customers do not mind the price of products that they buy infrequently. As such, iPad will continue t have the product sold at its intended prices as long as it continue to produce products that guarantee good quality.

Secondary Target Market

The market segment is composed of those customers who do not directly use a product but indirectly adopt the product later. However, even if this segment does not directly purchase a product, the pricing strategy used in primary target market is used. A high price should be set during the initial stage as it is the case of any other new technology that is introduced in the market.

Promotion

The major objectives that Apple has set for the introduction stage should be to create awareness among those who adopt the technology early and to the dealers. The other objective is to apply heavy sales promotion so as to ensure that the product attain many number of users. Apple has gained high levels of reputation and has worked hard to maintain this reputation by providing quality products to the customers. Apple can promote the use of iPad by many customers by encouraging them to have a first-hand experience. Apple should apply many of the tools of advertisement to promote iPad. Such tools like publicity and experience should be used in a cost-effective way at the introduction stage.

Primary Target Market

Apple can promote iPad to the primary segment by using a method that would reach many customers at one time. One of such method that is effective would be to buy an advertisement space for 3D commercial placement. The commercial placement should then be viewed in movie theaters.

Secondary Target Market

The same promotion strategy employed for primary market segment is employed in this case. However, live demonstrations can be employed in the case of retail sellers of the product and to the partner. Ads should be printed on papers and online marketing websites so as to reach many customers.

Growth Product Life Stage

The stage is characterized with high rates of sells and many competitors joining the market. As a result, high profits are made since there are many number of products sold. The main goal at this stage is for Apple to maximize the market share. The only way that Apple can maintain its market share in a growing market is by increasing the volume of sales in a rate that is equivalent to the whole market at large. Apple should as well aim at retaining its current customers and for continued sales and for the purpose of gaining more adopters in future.

Product

Apple, like any other company supply products to the market should ensure that iPad is made attractive to the customers than those products produced by its competitors.  Diversification in this case is an important factor in this case. It should produce a variety of models that can undergo various transformations in order to improve their quality. Such factors as warranties and quality improvements should be of major concern.

Primary Target Market

The improvements that are important in this segment are those about quality and warranty. Apple can make such improvements by constantly educating its staff on new ides that would improve the technical and quality aspects of iPad. Such support information should also be updated on its website for customers to access it easily. On the technical aspects, Apple should make the product lighter and improving the speed of internet connectivity.

Secondary Target Market

Since customers in this market segment do not use the product directly, they may not be interested with warranties and service offered (Hollensen, 2007). Instead, they are concerned with a product that would improve the viewing and listening abilities. Apple should consider improving the following features that are omitted in iPad: adobe flash support, camera for video chat and a wider screen for watching videos, USB port and a wire data cable that is flexible than the iPod dock connector.

Place

At this phase, a shift from selective to intensive distribution channel should be considered. In addition, the number of partnership distribution channels should be increased. Partners who include producers and sellers of complementary products should be included.

Primary Target Market

The partnership channels that were introduced at the introduction phase should be strengthened and consistently followed at this phase. The partnerships should include video viewing companies such as premium sports network and movie developers with the ability of converting contents in 3D viewing. Apple should still continue to create other viewing networks.

Secondary Target Market

Expansion of partnership with secondary market should also continue at this phase. Potential partners at this phase include the social networking websites like Facebook. Partnerships established at the introduction phase should also be continually followed and strengthened. Apple should still continue forming partnerships with other movie developers.

Price

The price is supposed to flow steadily or remain slightly lower with the aim of attracting buyers who are price sensitive. During this phase the number of potential buyers has increased and therefore a higher number of units sold as compared to the introduction phase. As a result, the profit made would be slightly higher and therefore lowering the price of the product would not negatively affect the company. Apple should aim at gaining more customers at this stage and this becomes possible when the price is lowered.

Primary Target Market

Attracting more adopters is the priority at this stage. During the introduction phase, innovators and early adopters would purchase the product without any issue of price sensitivity. Later adopters are characterized with high tendencies of being price-sensitive. This group of customers can only purchase the product when its price is lowered. At this phase, price is also influenced by the upcoming competitors and the introduction of new technologies in the market that may cause the prices to decrease steadily.

Secondary Target Market

Little purchase is expected from this segment implying that reduction in price may not have an effect on this segment. The same principle used for the primary segment of reducing the price gradually should apply to this case too. The price reduction rate should not be too high or low and should reflect what the competitors are doing.

Promotion

According to Kotler and Keller (2009) advertisement during this phase should shift from product awareness to making the brand more preferred. This is because the demand for the product has increased and therefore there is little needed to convince the customers to purchase but rather they should be convinced to choose the product as their favorite.

Primary Target Market

At this stage, adequate awareness has already been made and the demand for the product has increased considerably. Therefore, there is no need for using demonstrations which are normally used at the introduction phase. Since such promotion campaigns are not cost-effective, promotion in this phase should be shifted to the use of internet, print media and television ads which are more cost-effective.

Secondary Target Market

Online promotion should be intensified at this stage while live demonstrations should be drastically reduced. The concern in this case should be to make the customers prefer iPad over other products produced by the competitors.

Maturity Product Life Cycle Stage

This is the stage whereby the sales growth has reached the peak. It is characterized by the flattening of the growth in sales and later a slow a sale growth, huge profits and the number of competitors become stable or even start decreasing. The main objective of a firm at this stage is maximizing profit and while at the same time defending its market share. The phase is the longest phase and still a number of purchases are expected. The time that this phase lasts depends mainly on how Apple will continue to defend its market share. The sales are also expected to increase since the product will be recognized globally.

Product

Kotler and Keller (2009) argued that the maturity phase should focus more on innovations instead of quality improvement, styles and features. They argued that innovations during this phase should help to add value through offering extended services.

Primary Target Segment

Most of the necessary innovations have already been made in the growth stage (Boyer & Verma, 2009). During the maturity stage, there are still more innovations that can be made. This is also the stage when Apple should respond to the feedbacks made by the customers regarding the usage of the product. Through research, Apple can be able to determine how the customers view the product. Apple can respond to the to the research findings so as to ensure that there is continued late purchases and customer satisfaction is realized.

Secondary Target Market

Apple should aim at building loyalty with the secondary target market since this would ensure continued sales of current and future products. This implies that all sorts of customers should be treated well irrespective of their age because young people would the main customers in future. There, the contents of the Apple website should be clear such that people of all ages can understand it.

Place

For the purpose of sustainability, intensive distribution channels should continue all through this phase. Through e-commerce, Apple is able to use the available innovative ways for creating product awareness.

Primary Target Market

The partnerships that were suggested and those that were established at the growth phase should be strengthened and followed continuously. This is important because it is not possible that all the suggested partnerships came into agreement and therefore it is worth to pursue these channels. New partnerships should also be pursued through the use of social networking websites.

Secondary Target Market

As for the case of the primary target market, channel partnerships should be created where possible. It is important that Apple considers what other companies are offering so that it is not left back in the technology market. This can be possible by viewing such progress view the social networking websites.

Price

Price reduction is an important factor at the maturity stage because it helps a company to thrive in the competitive market. Price reduction should be done selectively especially in the case of products that provide 3G connectivity. This is because it reaches a point when the quality of two or more products becoming equal, as such customers shift their focus to the price. In such a scenario, the product offered at a lower cost is preferred.

Primary Target Market

Both early and late customers should be attracted. As it is the case of any electronic, customers would expect Apple to lower the price gradually throughout the maturity phase. However, emphasis should be made on the prices offered by the competitors in order to set prices that are favorable to the current market.

Secondary Target Market

They customers in this market segment are not influenced by price offered; they may later turn into buying the product. This is because, at the maturity stage, this segment is already mature and may undergo transition into influencing buying or even buying.

Promotion

Apple should focus on increasing sales at this stage before sales decline start taking place. Customers should be convinced to buy more products or even find more buyers by stressing on how the product is different from the rest.

Primary Target Market

Since the prices are already low at this stage, Apple should convince its primary buyers to purchase the quality product at the low costs. On the other hand, the customers have already bought iPad before and they can feel free to make repeated purchase in future.

Secondary Target Market

Apple should start to diversify the features of its product in order to provide a variety of uses of the product. At this stage, customers are already used to the old product and they could therefore welcome one that has many use.

Decline Product Life Stage

This is the stage when sales, profits and competitors have fallen drastically. An important decision at this stage would be to rejuvenate or harvest the product. The company tries to milk maximum profit from the product.

Product

At this stage, weakest selling points and the products that make less profit should be phased out. A company should place more emphasis on research and development so as to determine the best product to replace the existing one.

Primary Market Segment

The least profitable product should be discontinued if they are not strong even to the secondary segment. Investments at this stage shifts to researching on technological innovation.

Secondary Market Segment

In this case, weak and non-profitable products should be discontinued. Investments should not be made on such products that do not bring revenue to the company.

Place

According to Kotler and Keller (2009), the less profitable channels and outlets should be stopped. The market is already aware of its demand and where to get the required product.

Primary Target Market

Costs should be reduced heavily and the profits maximized (Cusumano, 2010). Maintaining expansive channels can also be costly and so should be reduced to just the most cost-effective channels. The partnerships should remain strong so that they can be readily used when the product is rejuvenated.

Secondary Market Segment

The partnership channels should be maintained as for the case for of primary segment. This is important for the purpose of the next generation of the product that Apple would be realizing to the market.

Price

The prices are expected to remain stable in circumstances where the rate of decline is low. The rate at which a product declines depends on the kind of product that will enter the market and the rate at which such a product enters the market. If the product enters the market at a high rate, then the price of the current product will fall at a high rate.

Primary Market Segment

Competition plays a major role in determining price reduction in a market. Apple should analyze the prices offered by competitors when setting the price of iPad at the decline stage in order it to remain competitive in the market.

Secondary Market Segment

Secondary market segment plays a major role in influencing buyers at this stage when the prices are gradually falling. Even if the prices fall, Apple should not ignore the quality of the product delivered to the market at this phase.

Promotion

Expenditures on communication should be heavily cut down at this stage. However, small sales promotion is still worth in order to retain the royal customers who are important for the purpose of future business. 

Primary Target Market

Most of the advertisement at this stage should focus on channel partners. It can be done through the sale of fliers and websites. Events like demonstrations at this stage are not worth at all.

Secondary Market Channel

Sales promotion and advertisement have already been stopped at this stage. Online sale of fliers to the partner channels is the most effective method to use at this stage.

Recommendations and Conclusions

In market, it is always prudent for companies to consider the products they are offering in these types of markets; that means providing a high quality and improved product to the market. Product life cycle should also be determined. It is also important to consider the product packaging and branding, if the two are done properly marketing becomes easier.

For a company like the Apple, it is important to use this form of advertising because it enables the company to capture instant buyers who seek low priced products and premiums even though such customers are not loyal to the company. Such an activity forces consumers to buy in commodities in bulk, hence increasing the sales of the company. Sales promotions challenge consumers to try new products which are on offer in the market. 

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