The launch of a new product is often the end-result of intensive research, planning, and strategising. While this may not be a problem for large organisations with dedicated marketing teams and generous budgets, it can be quite the challenge for the cash-strapped, overworked small business owner to get the right balance.
But by asking 5 simple questions about your product, you can have the foundation of a product launch strategy within minutes.
1. Is your product tangible or digital/intangible?
Tangible products can be held and felt, intangible products cannot. If your product is tangible, you would need to consider logistics, for example, storage, transport and delivery. Think about how delivering your products to a broader audience will influence your delivery costs. And will you need more storage space to hold higher stock levels?
Intangible and digital products, therefore, may be less complicated to sell via the Internet than their tangible counterparts.
2. Does your product have search or material characteristics?
Search characteristics imply that your potential customers can decide to purchase your product or service purely by viewing information about it. For example, you’re able to purchase a holiday simply by viewing pictures of the accommodation and customer reviews. A holiday, therefore. has search characteristics.
Products that need further evaluation through smell, taste, touch or sound have material characteristics. When planning your launch strategy for material products, consider whether potential customers would need to have “testers” before buying. If yes, you may need to support your online launch with traditional methods to allow your customers to experience the product.
3. In which stage of the Product Life Cycle (PLC) is your product?
In the introductory stage of the PLC, the product is introduced to your target market. Your launch strategy should create a need within potential customers and marketing activities may include heavy expenditure in advertising to create an awareness of the brand or product and communicate its benefits
In the growth stage, the brand or product is accepted by a critical mass, and you can concentrate your efforts on maintaining and growing market share as competitors enter the market.
In the maturity stage, competition intensifies. The costs associated with acquiring new customers increase so you should focus on maintaining loyalty. The last stage of the PLC is the decline stage. As sales decline, you can either discontinue the product or reinvent it, thereby restarting a new life cycle.
4. Is your product durable or non-durable?
Durable products are products that are capable of surviving many uses (such as appliances and cars) and non-durables are perishable products that are used up after one or more uses (for example, food). If your product is durable, you may have to focus on customer acquisition strategies instead of retention strategies because repeat purchases are likely to be few and far between.
5. Is your product perceived as a convenience, shopping, or specialty product?
Convenience products are those that the consumer is not willing to spend time, money or effort in locating, evaluating and purchasing, for example, pantyhose and bread. Packaging is important to sell the product.
For shopping products, consumers want to make price, quality and suitability comparisons. They make the time and effort to plan their purchases and the product with the best set of attributes is bought. When product attributes are perceived as similar, price is the deciding factor.
Specialty products are those in which the consumer’s buying behaviour is directed at securing a particular good, service or idea without regard to time, effort and expense. Consumers are loyal to their brand, store and person. They will pay a premium price for their products and will not accept a product substitute.
Putting it all together
The next step in planning your product launch is to characterise your product according to these 5 characteristics.
For example, a tangible, non-durable, shopping product with material characteristics in the introductory stage of the PLC will have a totally dofferent strategy to a digital, durable, speciality product with search characteristics in the maturity stage of the PLC.