Living Twice: How a Product Goes through Multiple Life Cycles

John K. Christiansen*, Claus Varnes, Marta Gasparin, Diana Storm-Nielsen, Erik Johnsen Vinther

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Product value and life are usually expected to follow the product life cycle (PLC), wherein products are expected to move from an investment toward a profitable mature peak that ends when the product is phased out. This study illustrates the sales volume of Arne Jacobsen's Egg chair over a 50-year period, shifting from low to high volume to extremely low to high again. This study introduces a theoretical perspective in which value creation is described as a process of valuing, in which an assumption is made that the value of a product is relational and that relationships between products and consumers are created, broken, and recreated. This makes it possible to understand how timeless products can be achieved. Based on a coconstructivistic view of value creation, the life of the Egg chair demonstrates how value is cocreated as different associations, relationships, and conflicts are attached, detached, and reattached to the product through processes of qualifications and requalifications. Value is context dependent, emerging, and performative. By providing vital clues about what makes some products timeless, the study of the Egg provides implications for companies and managers. The strength of the Egg is its ability to be simultaneously flexible and stable. At its core is the design of a mastermind, yet it can adapt to today's changes and tastes. Through its ability to transform and connect in new ways, keeping its core, it becomes strong. The implications for product development are, among other things, that the PLC curve should not guide actions or reactions. Instead, it is necessary to understand, identify, or define the core design and values of products and the way products of the past can be adapted, negotiated, and transformed to stay attractive and to involve modern customers. It is essential to understand how product framing and framing devices work as management technologies in processes that involve the creation of long-lasting product icons.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Product Innovation Management
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)797-827
Number of pages31
Publication statusPublished - 13 Oct 2010

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