Define product marketing goals for the decline stage of the product lifecycle

Based on by Tom Whatley.

Business benefits

Slow down decline and cut marketing costs as you develop fresh products.

Continue development on new products that you started during the growth and maturity phases of the product life cycle.

The decline phase is a time for extending your grace period for R&D on the next products you’ll bring out.

Analyze marketing platform analytics to see which offer the best return on investment and which are low producers.

If a channel isn’t producing sales or customer acquisition costs are higher than customer lifetime value, cut it out.

Costs from these channels can be invested in other priorities such as product development or brand marketing.

Create value-led personalized content and foster brand advocacy to nurture existing customers.

This will mean you’re able to align marketing spend with the decline in sales and rely on brand loyalty to promote your product to late adopters. This is known as harvesting—squeezing the last bit of profitability from a product before sunsetting it. Investopedia gives this example:

“A harvest strategy may involve the gradual elimination of a product or product line when technological advances render the product or line obsolete.

For example, companies selling stereo systems gradually eliminated sales of record turntables in favor of CD players as compact disc sales soared and record sales declined.

Also, when product sales consistently fall below the target level of sales, companies may gradually eliminate the related products from their portfolios.”


Take Coda. It nurtures existing customers with a referral program. When someone signs up for Coda using a referral link, both parties get $10 in credit.

This encourages loyal customers to share the product with little marketing spend (the referral program sits on the Coda website without promotion).

It also gives Coda access to potential early adopters. Customers happy enough to tell friends about a current product are likely to be open to hearing about a new venture.

Gather customer data for future product launches. Conduct qualitative research to gather feedback and insights from customers and gauge sentiment.

The decline phase can offer valuable insight into how to market your next product. Look at:

  • Which demographics stuck around until the end;
  • Which marketing tactics resonated with late adopters;
  • Which customers have engaged with referral and reward marketing campaigns;
  • Which customers have expressed interest in new products.

Learning about user experiences and brand perception will help shape positioning and messaging for your next product launch.