Lifecycle stages are a concept used in marketing to describe the stages of a consumer’s relationship with a certain product or brand over time. Understanding the lifecycle stages of a product or brand enables marketers to optimise their marketing strategies and campaigns in a way that more effectively meets the needs of their customers.
At a basic level, the lifecycle stages are: awareness, consideration, purchase, and loyalty. However, depending on the product or brand, some stages may take longer than others and there may be additional steps or crossover that helps the consumer to reach a purchasing decision.
Awareness is the first lifecycle stage, where marketers aim to make consumers aware of their product, or have them start to recognise the brand. In this stage, the main marketing focus is on reach and brand exposure. This is achieved through campaigns that amplify the brand message and make it easily accessible to as many consumers as possible. Popular channels to consider include digital marketing and advertising, social media, search engine optimisation, both digital and traditional print media, and experiential marketing.
Once the target customers are aware of the brand and product, the next step is to get them to engage and consider the options. In this stage, the aim should be to get people to research and compare the product against the competition, and strongly consider it for a purchase. To do this marketers often focus on providing more detailed information about the product, such as showcasing its range of features, and listing positive customer reviews and opinions. A good way to keep consumers engaged at this stage is to implement content marketing to demonstrate the value of the product over similar competing products.
The purchase stage is the point when customers decide to actually buy the product. This is the crucial stage where marketers need to ensure that both potential and existing customers are given the right information and the right purchasing options to make it as easy and stress-free as possible to make the purchase. To achieve this, an ecommerce approach through a company site should be in place with a user-friendly purchasing process. An enhanced customer service and support experience can provide reassurance and help to build brand loyalty as well as strengthen customer relationships.
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For a product to succeed, marketers also need to foster customer loyalty. This stage uses the aforementioned marketing tactics, such as content marketing, customer service and support, to build and maintain relationships with current customers, showing respect and appreciating their loyalty to the brand. To keep customers engaged, rewards programmes, loyalty offers, competitions, discounts and other incentives are great ways to incentivise returning customers and encourage more sales.
In order to ensure a successful marketing strategy for any product, it is important to apply different marketing tactics at each of the lifecycle stages. Moreover, understanding how a customer’s relationship with a particular product changes over time, and how to enable customers to progress from one stage to the next, is key in creating a successful product life cycle. Some of the best practices when managing the lifecycle stages include:
• leveraging customer feedback and reviews
• understanding and addressing customer needs
• creating accessible and clear product information and pricing
• offering incentives, discounts and loyalty offers
• maintaining customer relationships through engaging and relevant content
• utilising customer service and support to build trust
• providing a great customer experience
• measuring and analysing data to inform decisions
Overall, by making use of the right mix of proven marketing tactics, at the right time, understanding the product lifecycle stages and applying the best practices that result in a successful product life cycle. Understanding where consumers are in their lifecycle will enable marketers to target their strategies to the right customers, resulting in successful and sustainable growth in purchases and customer relationships.