Product Lines Don’t Last Forever

Nothing lasts forever. It’s a tired phrase, but a true one, that is often applied to consumer goods. In the past year or so, two of the most ubiquitous consumer products that have been deleted include the VCR and the iPod. It happens in all industries.

In the automotive industry, some of the famous car brands that have been deleted in the past decade include Pontiac, Saturn, Maybach, Mercury, Hummer, Saab, Isuzu, Oldsmobile, and Plymouth. The most recent company to delete a car line (but not the entire company) is Ford. Ford plans to kill off its entire sedan lineup (except Mustang!). The company plans to delete Taurus, Fusion, Focus, and Fiesta – some of which have had high rankings and sales. Why cut the lines?

Strategically, Ford needs to cut costs and improve its overall financial performance. The company’s decision also seems to reflect changing consumer preferences for SUVs and crossovers, instead of traditional family sedans. Generation Y and Millennials are now starting families, but they still want to maintain an active lifestyle. This makes SUVs a popular choice. By 2020, Ford plans to have nearly 90% of its vehicles in the categories of truck, SUV, and commercial vehicles. And, let’s not forget about emerging demands for electric and autonomous vehicles.

Out with the old – in with the new.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the stages in the product life cycle. What are the marketing objectives in each stage?
  2. Divide students into teams. Have each team draw a product life cycle and place various products and services into each stage.
  3. Show Ford’s Web site: https://www.ford.com/
  4. Where do the various vehicles fit in the product life cycle?
  5. Discuss Ford’s cuts to its product lines.
  6. Have students brainstorm on how to reposition or revise products/services to that they can move into an earlier stage of the life cycle.

Source: Detroit Free Press, Brandchannel.com, New York Times, other news sources

 

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