The product life cycle is a concept used in marketing and product management to describe the stages that a product goes through during its existence in the market. It typically includes four stages: introduction, growth, maturity, and decline. In the introduction stage, a product is launched into the market, with limited sales and awareness. In the growth stage, sales and market share increase as the product gains popularity. The maturity stage is characterized by stable sales, intense competition, and market saturation. Finally, in the decline stage, sales start to decline as the product becomes outdated or replaced by newer alternatives.
The concept of the product life cycle can be applied to online communities, particularly in relation to the lifespan and popularity of community platforms or forums. When an online community is introduced, it may have limited membership and activity. As the community gains traction, it enters the growth stage, attracting more members and generating increased engagement. The maturity stage is marked by a stable and active community with established norms and a dedicated user base. However, over time, online communities can also experience a decline phase, where user activity decreases, and the community becomes less relevant or faces competition from newer platforms. Understanding the product life cycle of online communities can help community administrators anticipate changes, adapt to evolving user needs, and explore strategies to rejuvenate or transition the community to new platforms or formats as needed.