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A new way to teach the Boston Box (Matrix) BCG theory

Updated: Dec 6, 2023

I was teaching BCG / Boston Box theory and I started chatting to my students about walking around a clothes shop. I wanted to link the Boston Box to the Product Lifecycle theory and add a possible context.

The question marks could be items that had just arrived on the delivery, ready for the launch phase of their lifecycle (nice theory link) and ready for customers to either snap them up or leave them on the shelf.

It then occurred to me that I needed to nip into town and take some snaps of clothes shops and see if students could identify which part of the Boston Box they felt the clothes might fall into.

Question mark or star?

So armed with a bundle of photos I printed them out onto a sheet and students were able to cut and stick them onto a Boston box diagram.

Dog or cash cow?

Cash cow or question mark?

I have also decided that I will no longer use "problem child" and use instead the much more useful and less offensive "question mark". To extend this you could use clothes magazines, but they tend to be mostly question marks, and you could also challenge students to take 4 photos of their own and bring them in to make a wall poster.

The challenge now is now to find products that extend the product lifecycle, say for example jeans could be jeggings.

A sale rail full of items at growth or decline?

This activity works well if students are asked to make a digital collage of clothes which represent the 4 quadrants of the Boston Box and then transfer them into a product lifecycle diagram.

Sarah is a business teacher trainer; she has taught business for 23 years and has been a business examiner for over 20 years. If you would like to book a staff CPD session or exam revision session for students (via Zoom) please email:
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