Classic Christmas Lessons: What I’ve Learned From Frosty About Product Life Cycles

Do you have a product or service with a short life cycle as part of your repertoire? It might be something that’s a fad and has a limited time span for popularity, or maybe it’s a seasonal item.

Just like Frosty the snowman, that old favourite magical singing playmate, your product or service won’t be around forever — or customers’ interest will predictably wane. However if, like Frosty, you realize this in advance, you can make the best of the time you have. As the song goes:

“Frosty the snowman knew the sun was hot that day; so he said, ‘Let’s run, and we’ll have some fun now before I melt away.’”

Here’s how to tell if you’re working with an offering whose time is limited — and how to make the most of it while it lasts.

Is It a Fad or a Trend?
If no one had heard of it a few months ago and now everyone within a specific market segment has one, you’re dealing with a fad. If it sticks around, great, but don’t bank on it. The best way to capitalize on the trend is to notice it early, ensure that you’re set up to meet demand when it peaks, and then market it correctly until the end.

Like amber necklaces in the baby accessories world; jeggings in the apparel industry; or pod coffee makers in the food and beverage world, these products (or services) take off like wildfire when the market discovers them. Watch for an uptick in sales of specific items among early adopters within your market, and pay attention to your marketing — which posts go viral? Constantly be paying attention to your market and really listening to them. When you’re out there and you really know your customers, you will be able to see trends before they take off. Of course, it’s hit or miss and some entrepreneurs are better at this than others, but chances are you didn’t open your business because you were clueless about trends within your industry.

Once you’ve identified an upcoming trend, you need to make sure you can make it scalable to impending demand. If you can’t meet the demand that the market is soon going to dictate, this can spell big trouble for your business in the form of a loss of faith among your customers.

Give this product the attention it deserves while it’s popular, but also don’t forget that this won’t last forever. As this trend grows in popularity, get another offering ready that you can unveil or promote more heavily once this trend begins to decline.

And as Frosty said, “Don’t you cry, I’ll be back again some day.” Perhaps the same is true for your fad product, especially if you look at ways to adapt it to the changing market. Technology companies are constantly looking at what their market wants next and adapting current offerings to meet these demands. You can do the same! It all comes back to that crucial point: always be listening to your market.

Is It Seasonal?
If you’re in a seasonal business — I’ll use the convenient example of a Christmas store — then this short life span is the very nature of your enterprise. However, there are still simple things that you can do each year (or cycle) to maximize your sales.

Do your market research year round, and know your market! What do they want this year? Are there any new developments in your market? If purple and gold are the big Christmas ornament colours this year then you’ll want to stock those front and centre. The same applies for landscaping — know your industry and your local market and be familiar with what people want (as well as your specific niche). By being intimately familiar with your target market, you can introduce what they really want before they even know they want it — or have it ready when they request it.

And one last bit of advice: if you’ve got a short-term best-seller on your hands, don’t just enjoy it while it lasts — keep a memento to remember the good times and remind you of where you’ve come from. It might be Frosty’s scarf, his hat or his carrot nose, but regardless, it’s important to honour and mark your successes.

Now get out there and run!

If you’d like help making sure your own Frosty gets the attention it deserves, give me a call.

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