CPG Product Lifecycle: The SEED Stage

Nov 01, 2022

In the US alone around 30,000 new consumer packaged goods (CPG) products are launched every year, but only a small handful of those will succeed at gaining a share of wallets long term. The rest end up losing distribution or even facing discontinuation in favor of more exciting offerings.

So how do we understand the life cycle that CPG products naturally go through?

We find it helpful to consider the analogy of plants growing in the garden as CPG brands, much like plants, can be considered to be living entities with specific requirements that can ensure their success.

In this brands-as-plants framework, the first stage is the seed stage and involves all the preparations before planting. At this stage, it is important to evaluate the different conditions that will impact your seed & future harvests such as the amount of sun and water your plant will get, the quality of the soil, and the time of year. Without the right amount of sun/water/soil nutrients, a plant runs the risk of not maturing to its full potential. Too much, and the plant can get overwhelmed and rot.

In the CPG world, we can think about these environmental conditions as external variables, such as access to capital, market trends, and people resources to get things done.

There are also internal quality factors that impact whether a seed will sprout and grow to a bountiful harvest, like the size of the seed, the strength of its genetics, and resistance to diseases. For CPG brands, the following internal variables can be considered: How sound is your product? Is it fulfilling an unmet consumer need with the right features and benefits? Will the business model be profitable long-term?

If both the external & internal conditions look good, the seed is planted in the soil and you wait for a sprout. Sometimes, a seed you thought was viable just doesn’t sprout despite your best efforts. Other times, it sprouts quickly and starts to grow with vigor.  That is when we enter the growth stage.

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