They were here!

“What if I fall?”, Tim cried.

Maerlyn laughed. “Sooner or later, we all do.”

  • Stephen King, The Wind Through the Keyhole

These are one of those bitter-truth phrases, that fall is inevitable. And there have been some falls in the last couple of months, which serve as interesting examples of products and brands in marketing case studies in the decline phase of the Product Life Cycle.

This brand was the trigger for this article – HMT Watches. As the government decided to bring down curtains on one of India’s iconic brands, the HMT brand of watches met with its “death”. The “time keeper to the nation” was anyway not doing much of business and the Gen Ys and the Millennials may not have even heard of it. Bureaucratic interference, stiff competition, technological changes in the market, an outdated positioning and failure to rebrand and reinvent itself cumulatively took a toll on this brand of watches, which was at one point of time a near monopoly in the Indian watches market.

Remember those cathode ray TVs (CRTs)? The heavy, box-like things with an ugly-looking projection at its rear, the top of the TV being used by the innovative Indian mind to keep photo frames or a trophy won by a kid or a plastic flower vase? Yes, those CRTs are going to become museum pieces soon. With more and more customers opting for the sleek, flat LCD, LED and smart TVs, the CRTs do not find many takers these days. And as price differentials between the LCD and cathode ray TVs narrow faster, industry experts feel that the CRTs are hurtling down the PLC curve in the decline phase and might become extinct in two years or so.

Telegram – a word that was almost a synonym for bad news than good about 30 years ago became history in July 2013. Another government operated communications technology, the telegram outlived its utility as emails and mobile phones became ubiquitous. The telegram had its own codes for some of the most commonly used messages and played an important role during the days of British rule and thereafter till about early 90s when telephones became more commonplace. A nostalgic article in one of the newspapers highlighted that the charges for telegrams were revised by the government in May 2011 after 60 years!!!

Going back a decade, another electronic communication gadget that had a very short product life cycle was the pager. Pagers started in India in 1995, peaked by 1998 and by 2002 they were nearly wiped out of existence. The pager was perhaps the first wireless communication technology. Paging was one-way communication and obviously did not stand chance when mobile phones became more common and cheaper to use.

We might witness obituaries of some or the other product, brand or technology in the coming days, sooner than later. Times, they are changing fast!

Aashish Argade | FPM 2 | Niche 2014


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