Launching a New Product

06 Jul 2012     written by Natalia Gutierrez

Thinking of launching a new product? Go through the following statements, and keep track of your YES and NO replies.

  • My product is distinct.  People currently want my product.
  • My product grabs attention, and stands out.  It is easy to recognize, and it is interesting.
  • The product’s objective, or usability, is crystal clear.  If I see it on the shelf, I immediately understand what I would use it for.
  • My product is relevant to the current market, and needed/desired by consumers.  It is convenient and easy to use.
  • My product is different.  When faced with similar choices, mine will be the most appealing.
  • My product is credible.  I have a trustworthy brand, I meet the industry’s requirements.  I am backed by a governing body.
  • I recognize my product’s shortcomings.*
  • My product is visible, easy to find.  My audience will already have access to my product.**
  • My product is reasonably priced.  My consumers will feel comfortable spending £x-amount on my product.
  • My product delivers on its promises. “It does what it says on the tin.”

*7 Every product has downsides. By identifying them up front, you are better prepared for potential objections from consumers. Think of any FAQs pages you might have come across – questions featured in FAQ pages are often cleverly-worded product shortcomings, publicly addressed before consumers get the chance to berate the product.
**8 Don’t try to change consumers’ habits, which can be a near-impossible feat. Instead, put the product in their line of sight. Consider where and how your target audience shops, and deliver the product to them in a way they’re comfortable with.

If you answered YES to all of these statements, congratulations, you are ready to launch your product! If you answered NO to even one, go back and see where you might need to do some more research or product testing to make sure you’re ready, and set yourself up for a truly successful product launch.

A product launch is always a product launch. Although your product is unique, launching a new product into any marketplace will likely face the same few obstacles we’ve seen time and time again.
To overcome these obstacles when launching a new product, we’ve come up with a nifty little guide, including best new product launch times, and other little unexpected complications to look out for.

Here is Sixth Story’s take on the top 4 new product launch hurdles:

MARKET RESEARCH:

This is where a lot of product launches fail, right from the start. Market research is not something to be taken lightly, and should always be conducted from an objective point of view. Market research is not a one-time thing, either. It needs to be ongoing, in order for your product to truly succeed in a cluttered, crowded marketplace.

Have you done *objective* research into your target audience? Is it specific enough? Generalizations, like “all men, aged 16-90” won’t work.

What is the advantage YOUR product offers, over its competitors? If your product defines an entirely new category, will consumers understand what to do with it?

Does your product have independent support? Has it been approved by the right governing bodies, such as the FSA or Ofcom?

 

PRODUCT ISSUES:

This can be the hardest area to look at objectively. Every little detail has to be scrutinized, from an outside perspective.
The product may well be unique, but if it confuses customers, it will not sell. What is the primary reason to buy your product? Does it try to do too much at once?

Is your spokesperson a bad fit? If your consumers aren’t sure what demographic the product is for, it will not sell. For example, Twiggy for M&S clothing is a great fit: She’s a British fashion icon, and she is now very age-appropriate for M&S’s target audience. Although Kate Moss is another British fashion icon, she would not be a great fit due to her age, and public image.

Pricing can be another tricky issue. If your product is priced too low, consumers might think it is low quality, and it may not appeal to the right audience. However, if your product has is too expensive, it simply will not sell to a mass audience.

 

BUDGET:

Another way to ensure a successful product launch is to shrewdly consider your entire marketing plan, and budget accordingly.

Blowing your budget during the launch phase, without having some funds to back up the campaign, will almost certainly guarantee a flop.

Social media is another big hurdle for new product launches. One of the most effective ways to tap into certain markets is through Facebook and Twitter. You can easily generate a buzz about your product by running special promotions for Facebook followers, or a discount to anyone who Retweets your message. Just look to Innocent Smoothies or Tetley Tea for excellent company Twitter usage. Although it is free to have most social media accounts, it will cost time to constantly engage with your audience through these channels, not to mention funding any promotional campaigns, like a free giveaway or discount codes.

Every product’s marketing mix will be different, but not having a marketing budget, and relying only on PR to launch your product, is another guarantee for failure. Look at your budget, and allocate a specific percentage or number to each slice of your marketing pie.

 

MARKETING:

If the marketing campaign has been developed in-house, instead of by a third-party marketing expert, there may be trouble in paradise. It’s difficult-to-impossible to remain objective when it comes to marketing your own product.

Credibility can be another hurdle to a successful product launch, and marketing can help to offset that. Your product will not sell if it does not appear credible, trustworthy, authentic. In order to lend your product credibility, it needs to have testimonials from other users. Your product should also have marketing materials that convey credibility through clean design, concise copy, and professional images.

The website should be fully functional, because a website with errors or diminished usability will only serve to frustrate potential consumers, rather than drive business.

Launch timing also comes under the marketing category. Your product needs to be launched shortly before your key selling season, in order to give yourself time to work out any kinks for when the prime selling season begins. Consider the relationship between movie genres and cinema release dates: Jaws wouldn’t do as well in November as it would in July.

 

Launching a new product into the market can be daunting, and should never be taken lightly. The biggest hurdle is often a lack of market research. Inherent product issues that remain unaddressed are another barrier to a successful product launch. The last two, budget and marketing, are interlinked, and perhaps the most commonly forgotten or ignored aspect for successfully launching a new product. It is crucial to sustain a well-developed marketing campaign after the initial launch phase, in order to keep your product in the consumers’ front-of-mind and ensure a successful product launch.

 

References:
Nielsen Wire: Countdown to Product Launch – 12 Key Steps
Harvard Business Review: Why Most Product Launches Fail



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

» Comments RSS Feed