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The three phases of a product life cycle

14 July 2020

For a sustainable product life cycle, it is important to reduce the product’s environmental impact to a minimum at every stage of its life cycle: from design to end of life.

From a production perspective, a product life cycle generally consists of three phases:
1. Beginning of life (BOL)
2. Middle of life (MOL)
3. End of life (EOL)

 

Ad. 1) BOL: improved sustainability during the initial phase

The beginning-of-life phase includes everything related to product development: the design, the development, the testing and the initial marketing of a new product. Especially during this phase, there is a lot you can do when it comes to sustainability. This is the stage at which you make decisions with regard to materials, processes and production sites. These are all key factors that determine the product’s ecological footprint. The choices you make during the beginning-of-life phase affect all other phases of the product life cycle. For example, if you opt for reusable materials during the design process, you ensure your product can get a second lease on life later on. Instead of simply throwing it out, you reuse or recycle it.

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Ad 2) MOL: the prime of a product’s life

The middle-of-life phase contains most of the marketing and sales activities. When you look at the product life cycle from a marketing perspective, the cycle begins with the initial marketing and ends when sales numbers start to drop. The diagram at the top of the page illustrates that the marketing product cycle consists of four phases: introduction, growth, maturity and decline. When a product has reached the maturity stage, its sales figures are up and it generates a profit. You can use this profit to invest in innovative and sustainable products or processes. For the continued success of your company, it is important to keep your product in this phase for as long as possible. Some products never actually reach the final phase. Instead, they never stop growing. It may come as a surprise that this is actually a good thing from a sustainability perspective. Below, we will explain how that works.

Prolonging the maturity phase with an extension strategy

When the sales of your product start to go down, e.g. because the product is outdated or there is too much competition on the market, it enters the decline phase. At that point, you can decide to start developing an entirely new product. A more sustainable choice would be to utilise an extension strategy to prolong your product’s maturity phase and postpone the decline phase. This allows you to utilise your existing production facilities for longer. The following extension strategies are available:

Rebranding is about creating a new look & feel for an existing product in order to stand out from the competition. You can do this by adding an extra feature, e.g. by implementing an IoT application in a product. There are various ways to do this; Rompa Group’s engineers and developers are happy to think along with you.
Advertising after rebranding: with this strategy, you try to reach a new audience and become top-of-mind again for your current audience.
Price cut by lowering your price, you make your product more interesting to many potential customers. A good way to compensate for these costs is by producing locally, where your customers are. Besides being sustainable, it can also be highly cost-effective, e.g. because you save on transport costs and needless inventory.
Exploring new markets, perhaps there are new opportunities for your product in other countries. In chapter 5 of this whitepaper, we explain how you can make your production process for the international market as sustainable as possible.

Sustainable inventory management

The better your inventory matches the demands of the market, the lower the risk of you being stuck with a large number of unsellable products if the market collapses. Both from a financial point of view and from the perspective of sustainability, it is therefore essential to optimise your inventory management. That requires a ton of market knowledge and feeling.

Rompa Group proactively supports your business with optimising and improving the sustainability of your inventory processes. We think along and work together with you. For example, we can adjust the delivery time of a product in order to reduce your inventory. It is also possible to only have essential products in stock. There are other ways to reduce the size of your inventory. Think of e.g. actively avoiding surpluses, involving your employees in keeping inventory levels down, improving the turnover rate and utilising Just-In-Time (JIT) deliveries.

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Vendor Managed Inventory

If you want to handle your inventory management in a smart and sustainable manner, there is another option: VMI or Vendor Managed Inventory. In this concept, Rompa Group can manage your inventory for you.

This method offers a range of benefits, such as:
• Tailoring your production even more effectively to the expected demand from end customers
• Optimal product availability
• Less storage space needed
• Better transport planning

Ad 3) EOL: the end of a product’s life cycle. What now?

During the EOL phase, a product has reached the end of its life cycle. The product is no longer being sold or promoted. If your product is in this phase, there are still things you can do to improve the sustainability of your business operations. For example, you can look for ways to recycle or reuse (parts of) your remaining stock.

Download whitepaper about sustainability