It is always difficult to know whether customers will like your new product or not. So, every time you are on the verge of launching a product, feelings of anxiety, caution and pessimism may come over you. Sometimes you may even feel the exact opposite. It depends with how much effort you have put in the product. Nowadays, customers are savvy, demanding excellent products all the time. You have to impress them on many fronts and these include price, quality and function. Global estimates are that only 40% of developed products make it to market. Of these, 60% will generate revenue and become viable. This is scary. Only a well organised and focused strategy for product launch is the answer. Let us look at some of the strategies that can be used in this regard.
Focus group discussions
Before you go to market, you need to check if your product stands a chance in an increasingly competitive market. One way of doing this is through the use of focus group discussions. Basically, the idea is to get a sample of your potential customers and get their feedback on your product. Large corporates hire market research experts to help them with focus group discussions. This can be too costly for smaller businesses who may not have a budget to foot the hiring of experts. However, this is not an excuse. Small businesses can do this on their own and on a smaller scale.
Once you know what your potential customers like and dislike about your product, you can then make the necessary changes before going to market. As an example, if 80% of your sample complain about the price of your product you need to review your pricing model and make the correct and informed decisions on how to proceed. If you need to cut your price, so be it.
Whenever a product is introduced, there are different adopters who get interested in it. Innovators are the first group. They normally are risk takers who jump to purchase the product regardless of the fact that the market has not fully tested it. Early adopters are normally the second group of product purchasers, perhaps the most important. They tend to be the most influential people in the market. In addition, they have reasonably high social status, are highly educated and have better access to finance than most people. As such, they try to obtain more information about a product before purchasing it. They ask questions. This is why you need early adopters before launching a new product. Give them as much information as possible. Because they are influential, they tend to be opinion leaders especially on social media where they can influence others to try your product.
First of all, your product must be appealing and beneficial to them. If possible, arrange to meet your early adopters face to face in order to understand how they react to your product and learn more about their needs. Use this feedback to improve your product before invading the market. While early adopters can offer you invaluable insights, another group called later adopters are always looking for a well-rounded product, a near perfect one. All in all, your product should be able to cater for all adopters and obtain maximum benefit from them.
Internal buy in
Your team needs to buy into your product both before and after it hits the shelves. This includes drivers and grounds men, everyone. They must be so into the product that they talk about it wherever they are. For this to happen, you need to enlighten your staff about the product, share information about it. You can also offer them incentives for helping you advertise the product. For example, if they bring a referral, you pay them some kind of commission. This will help you generate interest in the product.
Suspense often works
Suspense is known to create excitement and customer enthusiasm. Because you are teasing your potential customers with little bits of information, their curiosity is aroused and by the time the product comes, they can’t wait. Your competitors are also likely to be caught unawares because you are not giving away too much information on the actual product until you launch. Catching them off-guard will reduce their chances of replicating your idea. Steward Bank used suspense when they launched their new product Shosholoza. They gave hints but no one really knew what it was until 7th March 2019, the launch date. By then, everyone was dying to know what it was.
Invade social media
The power of social media in this day and age need not be overemphasized. It has potential to reach billions of people in a few seconds. So, in addition to your print media adverts, you need to invade the social space. Create branded hashtags. Send out press releases raising awareness that something new is coming. Most importantly, create shareable content. As people share, your product will gain traction even before people see it. Do not hesitate to throw in some giveaways and contests as you do so. You can give away a prize for someone who shares and retweets your posts often. In short, your product should go viral so that when it finally comes, people will be literally queuing to buy it.
Do not stop at the launch
The buzz around your new product should not end when you launch it. You need to maintain the momentum long after the product hits the market. Keep promoting it. Keep coming up with incentives. That way, your product always stays top of mind and you continue selling it like hot cakes. If you get any new feedback, use it to improve your product even further.
It is highly unlikely that your new product will launch perfect. Conditions are never perfect. However, it is your duty to strategize and ensure it is well received and bought. Never leave anything to chance.