Cycles of change: All products have a built-in shelf life after which they lose their utility and have to be replaced

The other day I came across a term which is often used in marketing: product cycle.

The phrase does not refer to a bicycle or similar mode of environment-friendly pedal-power transport but to the life cycle of any given product or service.

It seems that there is what is termed in-built obsolescence in all devices which causes them to be replaced by newer avatars of their previous forms.

Consumer goods, items of everyday use, are particularly subject to product cycling. I’ve been using the same brand of toothpaste ever since I can remember. Every now and then my toothpaste will advertise itself as a NEW! IMPROVED! product which, thanks to a magical secret ingredient which has been added to it, will clean my teeth better and brighter than the old version of itself.

To buttress this claim, the toothpaste will come in different, more colourful packaging, the visual implication of which is that it has been infused with renewed vim and vigour to perform its duty of improving my dental hygiene.

The same is true of the instant coffee I drink every morning. As is the case with my toothpaste, I’ve been a loyal customer of my coffee, buying the same brand over the years. Yet, for some reason, the makers of the brew feel that in order to retain my custom they must periodically give a new look to their product and proclaim it to be more flavoursome, or more perky, or more aromatic, or more something or other than it was before.

Nowhere are product cycles more evident than in the realm of fashion. When I was a teenager, narrow ‘drainpipe’ trousers were the vogue. A little later they gave way to flared ‘bell-bottoms’.  Today, narrow ‘skinny’ trousers are back, drainpipes making a comeback with another name. Tomorrow, bell-bottoms again?

Indeed, some might claim that product cycles go beyond earthly devices and desires and have a metaphysical underpinning. For what is the doctrine of reincarnation by which we keep getting reborn, time and again, but a product cycle?

Same product, new packaging.

DISCLAIMER : This article is intended to bring a smile to your face. Any connection to events and characters in real life is coincidental.


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