The product life cycle (PLC) pertains to a life cycle of a product from its introduction to the market to its decline. PLC’s do not refer to one brand, but instead refer to a product category or class. According to Lamb and Hair (333), the following stages represent the typical product life cycle:
American Online (AOL) has products that represent each of the four main stages of the product life cycle. AOL offers Internet access, but the company also has an extended product line with products in each stage of the PLC. AOL’s product in the introductory stage is its AOL-DSL service. This service provides high-speed modem Internet access. It offers the advantages of faster download speeds, no “bump-offs”, and it does not require a second phone line to receive calls and be online. Marketing strategies appropriate for this service include developing product awareness to old, new, and potential consumers via AOL’s online site, and radio, print, and television advertising. Heavy discounts are offered to gain acceptance among consumers for AOL-DSL, like a free $200 modem and a discounted price compared to other high-speed Internet service providers (ISP).
The AOL product in its growth stage is its AOL Instant Messenger (AIM). AIM allows users from different ISP to communicate with each other online in real time. It also allows AOL users to retrieve their email and other online functions from remote computers. This product is in the growth stage so appropriate management strategies for marketing include aggressive brand marketing to distinguish AIM from competitor products like MSN Messenger and Yahoo! Instant Messenger. AOL’s partnership with a variety of dealers and distributors like Gateway and others helps reinforce its market position. As Lamb (et al. 335) states, “Without adequate distribution, it is impossible to