When to Modify Products

When to Modify Products

While the decision to modify products happens ideally at the design stage, products can be changed during any phase of the life cycle.


Name the external factors that can influence product development


Key Points

  • Products are modified to compete more effectively in the market, and appeal to evolving consumer and business demands.
  • Multiple stakeholders ranging from employees and customers can influence product modifications.
  • Product time, cost, visual appeal, usability and reliability are all factors that influence how and when a product is modified.
  • External influences often prompt manufacturers to modify products. These are usually driven by competitive pressures, globalization, new technologies, or unexpected and significant events.

Key Terms

  • iterative: Of a procedure that involves repetition of steps (iteration) to achieve the desired outcome; in computing this may involve a mechanism such as a loop.
  • recall: To withdraw, retract (one’s words etc. ); to revoke (an order).
  • modified rebuy: the repurchase of a good with changes to the details of the order
  • stakeholders: A person or organization with a legitimate interest in a given situation, action or enterprise. It can range from employees and investors of a company to the customers purchasing from the company.

When to Modify Products

The product life cycle (PLC) encompasses the multiple phases products pass through during their ‘life’ in the market. Products travel through market introduction, growth, maturity, saturation and decline, posing different challenges, opportunities and problems to manufacturers and sellers depending on industry and target audience. At some point during the life cycle, products may be modified to compete more effectively in the market, and appeal to evolving consumer and business demand.


Phases in the Product Life Cycle: Modification decisions often (but not always) happen before products are introduced to the market.

Product Design Stage

At the design stage, developers and engineers must assess the importance of various requirements from a wide range sources. Stakeholders typically contribute input during product development, demanding something different from the product designer and design process.

Factors that can influence whether products are modified at the design stage include:

  • Overall production time and cost
  • Price, appearance, and prestige value
  • Usability and functionality
  • Assembly and reliability

Stakeholders’ needs vary from one another and it is the product designer’s job to incorporate those needs into their design. Product design is an iterative process, and often needs to be modified due to manufacturing constraints or conflicting requirements. Where a customer order fits into the timeline depends on the industry type and whether the products are for example, built to order, engineered to order, or assembled to order.

Market Influences

Although product manufacturers painstakingly consider numerous details and possibilities of what could go wrong, many new designs ultimately fail or become obsolete. These product failures usually go back to the manufacturer for modifications, and are later re-introduced to the market. Other products are never re-introduced and deleted entirely from the product roadmap. Product development can take as many as five to six attempts before achieving success in the marketplace.

Innovation provides much of the competitive impetus for the development of new products, with new technology often requiring a new design interpretation. It only takes one manufacturer to create a new product paradigm to force the rest of the industry to catch up, fueling further innovation. While some products are completely new innovations, others are simply minor modifications to existing products.

New and rapidly changing technologies, evolving trends, increased demand and globalization are all factors that play into the decision to add product features and functionality. Unpredictable forces such as mass contamination can lead to product recalls, and the modification or destruction of large quantities of products. In 2007, millions of toys manufactured in China were recalled due to discoveries of lead paint and fears of lead poisoning in children. Product recalls, which can happen at any stage of a product life cycle, are costly and can severely damage a brand ‘s reputation if managed poorly.