The product life-cycle is a conceptual tool which provides a means of describing the sales patterns of products, be they goods or service products, over their time in a market. If sales are plotted on a cumulative basis, the ideal-type life-cycle approximates to an S-curve. If they are plotted on an absolute basis, the ideal-type will approximate to a normal distribution, although it is usually drawn with a skew to the right (see Figure 22.1). In reality, product life-cycles adopt a number of different shapes and are never smooth. However, a good understanding of the concept, its variations, and the determinants of its shape, can be a powerful aid to the development of marketing strategies.
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