The classic product life cycle includes four phases -- introduction, growth, maturity and decline. It could be said that a fifth phase should be included at the beginning of the cycle, and that's development. If you're considering starting a candy business, each stage in the cycle presents its own challenges and offers opportunities for success. Candy production in the United States was about $8 billion in 2013, according to IBIS World, a market research firm.

First Development Stage

Before a new candy is introduced, it has to be developed, and that's where the product life cycle really begins. The development process starts with filling a need in the marketplace. For example, your new candy could be all organic, sugar-free, or made with a completely green manufacturing process. The recipe for the candy is developed, tested and adjusted. Finally the manufacturing process is designed.

Introduction Of The Candy

Introducing the candy requires resources in money, time and staffing. The target market for the candy has to be further defined and marketing strategies developed to reach the market. The distribution channels have to be selected. Candy is sold wholesale to grocery stores, convenience markets and big box stores. Another option is to sell the candy retail through shopping mall kiosks, farmers' markets and online. Another option is to become a distributor of candy, buy from the manufacturer and sell to the retailer on a commission basis.

Growth Phase

It's make it or break it time for the candy. The introduction is a success. Marketing efforts have boosted the candy sales beyond the original target market. Brand loyalty starts to build and sales increase. As sales increase, so do costs -- including staffing. The good news is that profits increase because of economies of scale that lower the per-unit cost of producing the candy. The downside is current manufacturing facilities and equipment may not be able to keep up with demand.

Maturity Could Last Awhile

Growth has tapered off and sales are steady. How long the candy stays in the maturity stage is difficult to judge. As of publication, classic candies are still around from the 1920s such as Babe Ruth bars, Reese's Peanut Butter cups and Milk Duds. Hershey Kisses in their silver foil wrapping go all the way back to 1907. The packaging may have changed and the recipe tweaked, but these candies maintain a place in the heart of consumers. Candies may take a different format to start the life cycle all over again. Reese's Pieces is an example of when the original concept of peanut butter and chocolate was transformed into dime-sized candy-coated pieces in 1978. Marketing of candies in the maturity phase continues so market share is maintained. Retro candies have a market with consumers who grew up eating those old-fashioned favorites.

Decline -- The End Is Near

In the decline stage, sales go down. It may reach the point where demand has nearly evaporated and you may decide to discontinue manufacturing the candy. Another alternative for a candy in decline is to change the size, wrapping and promotions to give it a second life.