Debuting a new product is never easy. Every choice you make matters–from the product itself, to the packaging in which it ships, to the channels in which you decide to market it. Will a customer think the ring you created is beautiful but decide to pass on it when she realizes it won’t sit straight on her finger because of the way it’s cut? Will the product you thought was light enough to ship inexpensively cost more than anticipated because it is subject to dim weight? Will your best customer be the one you are targeting or someone entirely off the beaten path? Any misstep you make can be costly, crippling, or even catastrophic. Here are 4 surefire ways to ensure your new product launches successfully.
1. Tell your story relentlessly. When a new product comes to market, one of two things usually occurs: the product has a great story but the story gets told poorly or it never gets shared at all. Treating your story like a goldmine and touting it loudly and clearly is crucial–so make sure it shows up in every part of your endeavor. Our company recently launched a new children’s DIY jewelry kit, called Wacky Links. There are lots of craft items currently available, so we knew we would have to give both our retailers and the end consumer a reason to choose ours. The story that drove our product from conception was the fact that, as parents who created the product, we believe kids need to be able to play freely, using their imagination rather than electronic devices, anywhere they find themselves. Everything, from the materials we use, to the packaging we picked, to the tone of our press releases, conveys that.
2. Plan your product around how it will be shipped, showcased, and sold. A product may be great, but if it gets lost in the shuffle because the merchandising part of it hasn’t been thought out thoroughly, it will never get the attention it deserves. We could have sold Wacky Links in hanging plastic baggies, for example. Most retailers have a slatwall hook section where they could have been displayed in that format, but instead, we opted for fun plastic tubes that kids could easily hold and use to transport their kit wherever they went. We made sure the tubes could be neatly stocked by our retailers by nesting the tubes in their very own self-contained counter display that also set them apart from competing products in every shop they were sold to. The display not only protected them in shipping, it also made them saleable as soon as the retailer opened the box.
3. Make sure your pricing accounts for every eventuality. A product has obvious production costs, but some things aren’t so evident and can bring you down if you price before taking them into account. Some of the hidden costing calamities, depending on your product, might include insurance, importation fees, packaging labor, warehousing charges, giveaways/freebies, material testing, shipping expenses, transport constraints, etc. Our traditional jewelry product lines have always been sold via catalogue, and we assumed that the new DIY kit could be marketed in the same way. While our first run of Wacky Links was still in production, we learned by talking to toy store owners that the buyers wanted to play with actual samples before they would buy. We had never anticipated needing so many pieces to give away, and the cost might have destroyed our margins had we not been able to offset the expense by increasing our production run and thus getting access to better pricing on the components of our product. The savings was enough to let us cover the costs of the freebies without changing the price structure.
4. Design your product to make your customer money. Everyone intends for their product to deliver a return on investment, but making it do so in innovative, as well as standard ways, is the key to fielding a winner. We made Wacky Links ultra-saleable by packing our kits full of components so that the end consumer would feel a child could make a lot with one of our kits–and at a reasonable price. We cut the retailer’s expense of carrying us by fitting 20 kits into very little counter space, and we price protected our product by setting an MAP (minimum acceptable price) so independent retailers could compete confidently with big box retail chains who were often undercutting them on many of their offerings. We provided good margins, but that wasn’t all: we offered floor samples and guidance on planning in-store events to help our customers increase foot traffic in their stores overall, and provided an upsell opportunity for a great, yet inexpensive add-on to any shopping basket, thereby driving our customers’ bottom line in several ways.
A successful product launch all comes down to solving potential problems before they happen, focusing on how your product will be received by your client, and consistently communicating the narrative of why your product is better than anything that came before.