The Product Life Cycle or PLC is a well known term in the field of Marketing. Just as human beings are born, live a life and then die, in the same way products also get born and eventually die. It would be interesting to try and understand as to where does the ruling Congress party stand in the PLC curve.
PLC has four broad stages. The first is the Introduction stage. In this stage the product enters the market. The Congress party was introduced in the then undivided Indian market in 1885. In order to sustain it through its infancy,as isdone in case of new products, the Congress was also nurtured carefully and once a year petitioned the British government for allowing Indians to rule themselves. Although there was no competition the Congress product was not finding a widespread market . It almost became a niche product and was afforded only by a limited high class customers.
The second is the Growth stage. In this stage the product starts gaining sale volumes at a rapid rate. The Congress at the beginning of the twentieth century around 1915 found marketing managers like Gokhale and Gandhi. Under their marketing strategy it got broad based and soon it became a mass product. Brand loyalty was high and repeat value also was high. In this stage product also faces intense competition. The Congress also started attracting intense competition from brand Jinnah.However Brand Congress had become very strong and had acquired able Brand mangers like Nehru, Patel, Azad, Rajgopalachari etc.
The third stage in the PLC is the Maturity stage. In this stage the product appeal remains at a steady level and after some time starts gradually going down due to customer fatigue or better alternative products and also from increased intense competition from existing and new players. The maturity phase for product Congress started a few years after Independence in 1947. The death of Gandhi and partition of India had their negative effect on Congress's product image. However it still had a strong Brand manger in Jawaharlal Nehru whose leadership qualities saw the life of the product extend beyond the 1960's although the Chinese market intervention did create a dent in his marketing skills.
The Congress found its brand had
The fourth and last stage in the PLC is the Decline stage. The product volumes start falling rapidly and rate of return also gets adversely affected. It requires considerable effort to boost the sagging volumes and the product may need to be withdrawn or allowed to linger on with minimal support in some isolated market segments. Since 1996 the Congress graph has entered into the declining phase. It is losing its all India marketing territories and is in danger of becoming a regional player. The Brand Congress has lost considerably and its marketing leadership quality has also suffered. It is no longer effective in sustaining its existing customer loyalty and new customers are running away from it. The competition is gaining market share and is preparing for launching itself with vigour in the Indian market. Congress may soon exist in isolated areas of the vast Indian market. It is not possible for it to withdraw from the market even though reversal is taking place. The Congress has surely entered into a decline stage in its long Product Life Cycle.
What is important to note is that its loyal customers have kept it alive for nearly 127 years giving it one of the longest PLC's in the world but of late its product managers have worked overtime not to enrich it but to enrich themselves. They have hastened the party's decline in its last PLC stage.