Product Portfolio Analysis - Lesson Plan

Product Portfolio Analysis - Lesson Plan: 2-3 x 1 hour lessons

A series of 'off the shelf' lesson plans and resources for use in the classroom. These lessons deal with Product Portfolio Analysis and are relevant to the following specifications:

  • AQA: Module 1, 10.2
  • Edexcel: Unit 2, section 3
  • OCR: Module 2872


These lessons are designed to encourage students to apply their knowledge and understanding of the product life cycle and the Boston Matrix to a particular product. It seeks to help students understand the development process of products and to dispel the notion that products 'just appear'.

What is particularly interesting about the product we will be dealing with, Post-it notes, is that it is seemingly very simple yet attracts a range of markets and is capable of meeting the changes in market conditions. The development of computer technology has been incorporated into the development of the product because it is the brand that is the key, rather than the physical manifestation of the product. Thus, the development of computer generated 'Post-it' pop-ups and the use of 'notes' in Microsoft Outlook takes the brand beyond the idea of a piece of paper that utilised a sticky substance for which no other use could be thought of! Therefore, it should make students think 'outside the box' in terms of how product life cycles work and how companies view products.

The assessment is via a report. However, there is a degree of flexibility in how the report can be presented - in a written format, through a verbal presentation or through some form of video presentation. The latter is a distinct possibility if the institution has access to such facilities and could even be developed as an inter-school discussion through a video-conference link. Should any institution follow this latter course of action, Biz/ed would be interested to hear of the outcome.

The intention of these different assessment methods is to provide institutions with the opportunity of developing the conceptual understanding and application of the business ideas to suit their own needs. Some students, for example, may be able to use the video technology in conjunction with work being carried out by students in media and communication studies related subjects.

Learning Objectives:

At the end of the lessons, students should:

  • Understand the concept of the product life cycle and be able to apply it to different products
  • Understand the Boston Matrix and its relationship with the product life cycle
  • Understand the importance and limitations of the Boston Matrix as an analytical tool
  • Have used selected resources to investigate a product to develop understanding about the product life cycle
  • Understand the difference between a 'product' and a 'brand'
  • Have planned and produced a report incorporating key business concepts


Lesson Structure:

Lesson 1

  1. If you are able to project from a PC connected to the Internet, go to the 'Hasbro' toys pages on Amazon - there are over 30 pages of Hasbro branded toys! The aim of this opening stimulus is to help students recognise that large companies have a wide variety of products on sale at any one time and this is what we mean by a product portfolio. (Any suitable company with a range of brands will do!) Discuss the possible implications for a business of having such a range of products. (10 minutes)
  2. Use the PowerPoint Presentation to introduce the theory behind product life cycles and the Boston Matrix. There are a number of slides in this Presentation so it may pay to break it up rather than showing them all together. Spend some time discussing the issues in relation to the example of Hasbro. (25 minutes)
  3. Take a number of examples from the discussion and ask students to consider the possible shape of the product life cycle of these examples (The notion of extension strategies can be introduced here in relation to things like the 'Simpsons' version of 'Monopoly'). Discuss the outcomes. (20 minutes)
  4. Introduce the Activity and briefly outline the task for the next lesson. (5 minutes)

Lesson 2

  1. Review the discussions and issues covered in the previous lesson. (5 minutes)
  2. Remind students of the nature of the task and the expected outcome. This will depend on the way in which the assessment is to be conducted and whether the work is going to be conducted individually or in groups. Set students on task. (5 minutes)
  3. Students work on the research and the completion of the task. (45 minutes)
  4. Remind students of the assessment outcomes and decide on presentation order if appropriate. (5 minutes)

Lesson 3

This lesson can be used for completion of the research and the task or for the presentations. The exact nature of the time taken in this respect will depend on the assessment method chosen.