Market Well: Launching A New Product

Our new column, Market Well, explores the key marketing strategies that are essential for the growth of a wellness business.

Every month, Vicky Ellison, who is also the Senior Marketing Manager for Equinox in the UK and Canada, examines how brands can create and maintain a marketing campaign that connects with both their intended audience and potential investors.

Providing valuable insight into the methods, services, and tools needed for both new and established businesses to drive exposure and boost brand value, this month Vicky is focusing on how to successfully market a new product…

Launching a new product or service is exciting. It’s also a huge amount of work with a lot of unknowns, which can be stressful.  

To make your launch a little less daunting, ensure you’re prepared by breaking it down into three phases: pre-launch, launch and post-launch.

Assuming that all relevant licensing, product testing and legal components have been dealt with, it’s time to focus on the vital pre-launch period of your marketing.

Pre-launch can vary in length depending on several factors; what you’re launching, how new the product is for your company, how new the market is for your brand and how well equipped your company currently is, in terms of your team, infrastructure and go-to market tools.

To help set you up for success, here are the five essential elements all wellness businesses should focus on during their pre-sale stage:

Research and learn

It is vital that you or your marketing and sales team behave like sponges and soak up as much information as possible during the pre-sale phase.

Learning all you can about the landscape, your competition, your target consumer and your product itself will set you in good stead.

‘Competition’ includes any products or services that answer the same need as you, not just products or businesses that appear similar, while consumer behaviour varies vastly from place to place, so look for unexpected competitors that you perhaps hadn’t considered.

Demographic modeling can only tell you so much, so understanding regional nuances will be key to tailoring your offering to suit your target audience. Understand the trends, the fashions and what elements of your product will appeal most. It can be easy to assume that if there isn’t anything like your product in a market, you are bound to see easy success – however, perhaps there’s a cultural or regional behaviour explanation for the lack of presence of your type of offering.

This phase of learning will help you understand how much product education is needed as you plan out your launch.

When it comes to your product itself, you or your R&D team will know the ins and outs, but it is important that if you have a sales team, they know this information too so they can answer any and all questions that come their way. Your team on the ground need to know the selling points and function of your product inside out and backwards.

Nike have a team of Ekins they send to stores. An Ekin, Nike spelled backwards, refers to one of the brand’s product knowledge experts who knows all there is to know about Nike products. Their purpose is to educate and inform in order to ensure all employees are immersed in the brand as they quickly bring new products to market.

Create and share your go to market plan

It’s an age-old adage that sales and marketing do not get along, but that needn’t and shouldn’t be the case.

When you feel you’ve learned enough about your new area and target audience, map out your pre-launch strategy including your key messages and activation planning. Then share your plan with all key internal stakeholders, especially your sales team.

Give this phase time. Selling in your plans internally is as important as your external facing activations, if not more so. It’s your chance to get people excited. You and your team are going to be the face of your brand in the new region, whether that’s in a B2B sense, selling your product into stores, or B2C selling directly to customers or delivering a service.

If you’re using agencies, spend time with them as if they are an extension of your in-house staff – because they are. Everyone who represents your brand needs to understand your plan and be on-board to make it a success.

Have your tools ready

Once your plan is finished, map out your pre-launch customer journey before you make any noise. Where are you driving people to? What’s the call to action?

It can be tempting to focus on social media in pre-launch, especially if budgets are low, but don’t underestimate the importance of building an owned database in your new market or tied to your new product.

Be ready with your landing pages, data capture forms, database management, email systems, call centres. Whatever methods or tools you plan to use to build your database and drive sales, have those ready before the fun stuff starts.

Test everything

From the product itself to your messaging. Use internal focus groups first and then start to include local contacts. If your launch relies on technology, consider a beta phase, but be prepared to be flexible, and be ready for things to go wrong.

If Under Armour had shown their ‘Band of Ballers’ T-Shirt design to a test group last year perhaps they could have avoided the public need for product discontinuation and an official apology following the backlash regarding the design’s link to a bloody World War Two battle.

You can guarantee that the contractors behind in the US wish they had taken a longer pre-launch test period. When the site failed, people had file paper applications, leaving the customer service centre who usually relied on the same web-based technology, to determine applicant eligibility.

If there was ever an example that confirmed the importance of beta phases, testing and taking a flexible approach to changes needed, this would be it.

Build relationships

During pre-launch planning you should start to understand who the influencers are in your market. Whether that’s local voices, social thought leaders or businesses that already speak to your audience.

Building relationships to support your launch is the best way to fast-track local acceptance and adoption of your product, so start to create brand advocates as early as possible to spread buzz about your launch.

Product seeding, in-person meetings and pre-launch education around your USPs is invaluable. Lululemon lead the way in this area by making sure they set up a community team in a region several months before they launch any retail there.

Having brand ambassadors ready to spread the word about new products also helps. In the case of Lululemon, this team’s sole purpose is to connect and build the brand’s community so there’s a warm welcome to new products once they launch.

Last year, Lululemon’s global brand ambassador Eoin Finn, and London ambassador Jody Shield hosted a special yoga session in the UK to celebrate the opening of a new store in the capital.

Whatever direction you take, putting checkpoints in place will force you to assess and refocus throughout this vital stage, and ensure you’re maximising opportunities throughout your pre-launch.

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