What is a Decline Phase?

Ruben Buijs

Founder & Digital Consultant

Written on Aug 10, 2023

2 minutes

Product Management

The Decline Phase refers to the final stage in the lifecycle of a SaaS product, where it experiences a significant decrease in demand and sales. This phase comes after the growth and maturity stages and is characterized by a decline in customer interest, market saturation, and technological advancements that render the product less relevant.


Several well-known SaaS products have gone through a decline phase. One example is the once-popular photo-sharing platform, Flickr. In the early 2000s, Flickr was the go-to platform for sharing and organizing photos. However, with the rise of social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, Flickr experienced a decline in users and relevance.

Another example is the messaging application, AOL Instant Messenger (AIM). AIM was widely used in the late 1990s and early 2000s but gradually lost its user base as more advanced messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Slack emerged.


Understanding the decline phase is crucial for Saas product management as it helps companies anticipate and navigate the challenges associated with a diminishing product lifecycle. By recognizing the signs of decline, product managers can make informed decisions to extend the product's life, explore new markets, or transition to alternative products.

How to Use It

To effectively manage the decline phase of a SaaS product, product managers should employ various strategies:

  1. Market Research: Conduct thorough market research to identify the reasons behind the decline. Understand customer needs, preferences, and emerging trends to determine if the product can be adapted or repositioned.

  2. Product Updates: Consider making improvements or introducing new features to address customer pain points and stay competitive in the market. This may involve upgrading the user interface, enhancing functionality, or integrating with other platforms.

  3. Targeted Marketing: Refocus marketing efforts on niche markets or specific customer segments that still find value in the product. Tailor marketing messages and campaigns to address their unique needs and demonstrate the product's relevance.

  4. Sunsetting and Exit Strategy: Evaluate the financial viability of the product and determine if it is more cost-effective to sunset or discontinue it. Develop an exit strategy that minimizes the impact on existing customers and provides alternatives or migration paths to other solutions.

Useful Tips

Here are some additional tips to help navigate the decline phase successfully:

  • Customer Communication: Maintain open and transparent communication with existing customers. Inform them about the changes, updates, or potential discontinuation plans. Seek their feedback and involve them in the decision-making process.

  • Competitor Analysis: Continuously monitor the competitive landscape. Identify emerging competitors or alternative solutions that may be gaining traction. Analyze their strategies, pricing models, and value propositions to determine potential opportunities or threats.

  • Customer Retention: Focus on retaining existing customers by offering incentives, discounts, or personalized support. Provide exceptional customer service to build loyalty and encourage word-of-mouth referrals.

  • Product Diversification: Explore opportunities to diversify the product portfolio or expand into related markets. This may involve branching out into complementary products or services that align with the company's core competencies.


The decline phase in SaaS product management refers to the stage in the product lifecycle where the product experiences a decrease in demand, customer usage, and revenue.
The decline phase can be caused by various factors such as market saturation, technological advancements, changes in customer preferences, or the introduction of competing products.
SaaS product managers can identify the decline phase by monitoring key metrics like customer churn rate, declining revenue, decreasing user engagement, or negative customer feedback.
During the decline phase, SaaS product managers can consider implementing strategies like product diversification, targeting new market segments, product feature enhancements, or exploring partnerships or acquisitions.
To mitigate the effects of the decline phase, SaaS product managers can focus on customer retention efforts, improving customer support, conducting market research to identify new opportunities, or considering product repositioning.
SaaS product managers should consider discontinuing a product in the decline phase when efforts to revive it have proven unsuccessful, resources are better allocated elsewhere, or when the product no longer aligns with the company's strategic goals.
Prolonging the decline phase can lead to increased costs, resource allocation inefficiency, negative brand perception, loss of competitive advantage, or missed opportunities for investing in new product development.
While it is challenging, a product in the decline phase can be revived through strategic product management, market analysis, identifying and addressing customer pain points, or repositioning the product to target new customer segments.
Customer feedback plays a crucial role during the decline phase as it provides insights into the reasons behind the decline, helps identify areas for improvement, and allows SaaS product managers to make informed decisions regarding potential product changes or discontinuation.
SaaS product managers should transparently communicate the decline phase to stakeholders by sharing relevant data, explaining the market dynamics, outlining the planned strategies to mitigate the decline, and discussing potential outcomes or alternative courses of action.

Article by

Ruben Buijs

Ruben is the founder of ProductLift. I employ a decade of consulting experience from Ernst & Young to maximize clients' ROI on new Tech developments. I now help companies build better products

Table of contents

  1. Examples
  2. Importance
  3. How to Use It
  4. Useful Tips
  5. Related Terms

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