The main difference between these concepts is that a product development cycle is a part of a product life cycle. The product life cycle looks at the performance of the product in the market, and it’s market share. While a product development cycle is focused on the planning, development, and evaluation of a product itself.
A product life cycle usually refers to stages of the product’s lifespan that include development, introduction, growth, maturity, and decline.
This is the first phase of a product lifecycle. The product development stage is not only about building a product. It starts with detailed market research, competitor research, product design, and includes user testing. At this stage, a team investigates the potential growth of a product and builds a business case to validate a product. Collecting test users’ feedback is also crucial for this stage.
At this phase, a brand introduces a product to the audience and starts the initial promotion. Many companies use one of these strategies: penetration strategy and skimming.
The first one implicates that you set a bit higher price for a product at the beginning and start decreasing it for customers over time. It is beneficial if there are only several competitors in the market and if your target audience is ready to buy a product for a higher price. This approach can be a good practice to use in product promotion.
Skimming means gradually increasing the price of a product. This strategy is helpful if your brand has a lot of competitors and if the initial price of a product is much lower than the average price on the market.
At this stage, your product’s market share starts growing. Usually, it happens thanks to more extensive use of advertising. The most popular advertising channels are social media, Google Ads, TV, and radio.
If you are running advertising campaigns successfully, you must see a significant increase in sales. After a period of an ongoing increase in sales, eventually, your share of the market will stabilize.
At this stage, your product market share can stabilize, promising more sales. It is a critical moment to pay even more attention to differentiating your product among its competitors.
After you notice a tendency for stabilizing sales, you should go back to a development phase, analyze your product, and innovate with new features to help your brand stay at the top of the market share.
This is a stage at which your product sales start falling. It happens because the majority who wanted to buy your product initially have already done it, and now it is becoming replaced by more innovative products in the market.
It is a perfect moment for companies to think of re-developing some product features and making it more innovative. At this phase, forward-thinking brands usually restart their product life cycle by going back to the development stage.
The product development cycle includes the next stages: Planning, Development, Evaluation, Launch, Assessment, Iterating.
This stage requires you to conduct the initial product research that includes competitive analysis, market research, and target audience research. You must find answers to the following questions:
This research should also include considerations of the product’s market price and cost of development.
This information will help you build an actionable product strategy, create a roadmap, and plan the budget.
The development includes defining the main product features and creating the user’s stories for each use case. The product features should correspond to the needs of a customer persona – the imaginative image of an ideal consumer.
At this stage, a team creates software and hardware. Commonly, startups enter the market with an MVP (a minimum viable product) that doesn’t have all the features at the beginning. Testing a product with real users, a company can improve a product over time and add the needed features.
To start evaluating a product, you shouldn’t wait for the completion of product development. You can test and validate product features during right during the process of development. You should also try to monitor product success by tracking specific KPIs (key performing indicators) that may include Cost of Acquisition, Revenue, Rate of Revenue Growth, and AARRR Metrics (Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral, Revenue).
The product launch stage is very similar to the introduction stage in a product life cycle. Its essence is introducing your product to a target audience. You can accompany it with press announcements, interviews, advertising, public launch events, etc.
After you have introduced a product to the audience, you should start assessing product performance. This phase consists of many sub-phases, such as A/B testing, challenging how to improve a return on investment, testing what makes a returning customer, etc.
At this stage, you will also need to provide information for the marketing and sales team to enhance product performance. You can assess what impacts the results of your advertising, social media, and customer relationship management campaigns that are aimed at audience engagement and generating revenue.
With enough information about what drives product performance, you can also make the right conclusions about what product features should be kept or removed. At this stage, you conduct the biggest amount of product iterations to make your creation even more innovative and competitive.
These are all the product life cycle and product development cycle stages. Our product development team hopes this brief overview will help you shape a clearer vision of a journey that can await your product in the future.