When Apple’s iPod first hit the market, it was an instant phenomenon. Most consumers hadn’t seen anything like it before—it revolutionized the portable music industry. However, that was back in 2001, before the invention of the iPhone and its cousin, the iPad. With the invention of newer, multi-functional devices, the iPod’s functionality was eclipsed and sales declined.
So why does Apple continue to manufacture and sell their iPod?
It’s a gateway device. The iPod allows consumers to dip their toes into the water with a smaller, less expensive device before diving in with pricier products, such as an iMac or iPad. Because Mac products are well made, user friendly and aesthetically pleasing, it’s likely that a small purchase will lead to more expensive purchases down the road.
Apple also succeeds in keeping their products up-to-date and relevant. They are constantly updating software, functionality and aesthetics. They are kings of keeping consumers waiting and wanting the latest and greatest they have to offer. In fact, a record four million people pre-ordered Apple’s iPhone 6 and tech-savvy hipsters waited in line outside its stores for days in anticipation of its launch this past September.
The iPod has been offered in different sizes, colors and types—ranging from small and colorful, to simple and powerful. Currently, Apple offers three versions of the iPod: the Shuffle, the smallest of the family, complete with a clip to attach to clothes; the Nano, a slim and slender device boasting music, video and radio capabilities; and the Touch, the big brother, operating on Mac’s latest iOS. Each is manufactured in a variety of colors with distinct features, providing a little something for everyone. The iPod’s product diversity and perpetual updates keep the device relevant, even when up against the iPhone and iPad—the swiss army knives of handheld devices.
Although your product may not be in the same class as Apple’s iPad, the lessons ring true. A product in decline doesn’t always deserve to fall by the wayside. With a little TLC and a lot of innovation, you can maintain steady sales for your product in decline and use its presence to bolster your line.
For more marketing tactics throughout the decline phase, read the white paper, Marketing and the Product Life Cycle.