14 Steps to Launch a New Product
The mixture of nerves and excitement that comes with launching a new product can sometimes feel unbearable. What if it goes wrong? What if no-one wants it? If you’re anything like most business owners, you’re probably asking yourself how to launch a new product successfully on a regular basis.
New product launches aren’t easy to get right but if you plan every step, from understanding your customers to analyzing successes and failures, your success rate will greatly increase.
In this article, you’ll learn what a new product launch is, the most important steps to take when launching a new product and impactful tps and ideas to get you started.
Table of Contents
- What is a New Product Launch?
- 14 Steps to Launch a New Product
- Tips and Ideas for Launching a New Product
- Get Started With Your New Product Launch
What is a New Product Launch?
A new product launch is the result of your sustained efforts to bring a new product to the market and make it available for purchase. It could be the first product you’ve ever launched or new product launches each season. It’s not a single event, it’s the combination of marketing, sales, logistics, finances, inventory planning and more over time.
The best way to launch a new product will depend on your business, the industry and the product itself. However, there are crucial steps to follow so let’s explore them.
Forecast demand, issue and track POs, re-order on autopilot, and step up your reporting game across multiple channels and locations. Get in touch to see how Singuli can help you optimize your inventory.
14 Steps to Launch a New Product
If you’re wondering how to launch a new product, you’re not alone. Use this new product launch checklist as a guide and you’ll be on the path to success.
1. Challenge the Product Need
There’s one essential question you must ask yourself before you go any further: Is there really a need for the product you want to launch? Don’t just say yes. Challenge your assumptions, research, ask your customers questions and most importantly, work out exactly what problem your product solves.
A great way to think about this is to consider how someone would feel when they’re using the product you’re selling. Would it satisfy a desire? Would it improve their quality of life? How much value does it bring them? If your answers are genuinely positive, your new product launch will have a higher chance of success.
2. Understand Your Audience
You’ve worked out that there’s a need for your product but who needs it and why? What drives someone toward your product? How does your target buyer spend their day? Are they looking for something? Are they trying to solve a problem?
An important consideration is that asking customers if they need “x” type of product probably won’t get you the best results. Henry Ford once said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Don’t think about what your potential customers say they want, think about why they want or need it.
You can research your audience by asking direct questions about their pain points, or you can gather data in other ways. One way is social listening. For example, you can track mentions of similar products, your company name or competitors on social media to see what people are talking about when you’re not in the room or use performance marketing to run ads about products that don’t yet exist. This way you can use engagement metrics like click-through rate to gauge demand.
3. Research the Industry
New products are launched all the time. Some herald great success, others fail before they start. Gather as much data as you can to reference when you’re planning your new product launch.
Look at the competitor landscape. Are there similar products already on the market? How are they performing? What makes the successful ones sell and the unsuccessful ones flop? Now think about how your product can stand out from the rest. Take the best bits of your competitors’ products, get rid of the rest and find the things that are unique to your brand.
4. Test the Market
You’ve done your research, you know there’s a need, you understand your audience and you’ve differentiated yourself from the rest of the industry but until you’ve tested the market, you can’t be sure of success.
Although product testing is more commonly used with software, for certain physical products, you can recruit beta testers for initial feedback, and then make changes. For example, a cosmetics brand could ask existing customers to test a new lipstick applicator before they commit to a larger order and launch the new product.
It’s best not to give too many instructions. Just ask your testers to do whatever comes naturally and to offer feedback. They’ll quickly tell you what they think works well and what doesn’t.
If you’re launching new clothing into a retail or e-commerce store, you might not be able to make any changes but you can use early buyers to help you decide if you want to continue stocking the product and/or how you want to tweak the design or fit, for example, for future new product launches.
5. Make Adjustments Based on Feedback
Take feedback seriously but don’t change everything based on one bad review. You want to make your product a success so if you’re able to, it’s a good idea to make adjustments based on the feedback you receive. It’s also important to think about why certain feedback was offered and how many people offered it.
6. Define a Product Brand
Just like your overall company brand, your product brand needs to be clear, consistent, relevant and it needs to stand out from the crowd. Your product brand also needs to align with your company brand.
Think about whether your new product fits with your overall company vision. Does it align to your company’s values? Does it fit your company tone and personality? If it does, set up brand guidelines, come up with ideas to make it as visible as possible and make sure everyone you communicate with knows about it.
7. Create a Strategic Plan
You’re almost there but before you launch your new product, you need a go-to-market strategy. The earlier stages give you a good starting point, but here’s where you bring it all together:
- SWOT analysis. You’ll always be better in some areas than your competitors and there will always be areas that you’re catching up on. It’s important that you know your strengths and weaknesses so you can see opportunities and fight against threats. For example, you may offer the same product as another brand but at a better price (strength), but your competitor has faster and cheaper shipping options (threat). Doing a SWOT analysis can help you make improvements where necessary.
- Return on investment (ROI). You sell products to fulfill customer needs but you also sell products for a ROI. Before you go-to-market, you need to consider its value and size, plus you need to consider how you’re positioned in that market. This will give you a good idea of potential customer spend and you can predict when your product will become profitable. Think about the initial cost of researching and developing your product, what you need to invest in sales and marketing campaigns and the revenue you’ll need to break even and eventually profit.
- Marketing. You’ll need a comprehensive marketing strategy. Where will you reach customers? How will you promote your product? Where will your product sit within the wider market? These are just a few of the questions you need to answer.
- Measure success. Success isn’t necessarily measured by profit alone. You might have other goals or milestones that you can look to like leads or newsletter subscribers generated, in-store foot traffic or social media engagement. Set your goals in advance and refer back to them constantly.
8. Forecast Demand and Set Up Supply Chain
New product forecasting and demand planning can be tricky if you don’t have the right information and software. It’s important that you always have enough inventory to meet demand but you’re never overstocked. Work closely with vendors to create a manageable supply chain and a better chance of success.
It’s much easier to create good supplier relationships if you forecast inventory accurately. You can forecast for new products by comparing historical data for similar products and by using qualitative data, like one-to-one interviews and focus groups, to make assumptions. With the right software, much of the work is done for you.
📌Get Started: With Singuli’s Advanced Forecasts, it’s easy to analyze historical data, market trends and customer inputs, which saves you or your inventory planner time and increases forecast accuracy.
9. Generate Internal Buzz
If your team isn’t excited by your new product, you might find it hard to excite your customers.
Your first audience are the people working on making your new product launch a success, so find ways to generate internal buzz. Offer sales incentives, staff discounts and keep talking about this great new product to your team.
Make sure that everyone is on the same page, from sales to marketing, to customer service, accounting, logistics and anyone else who is involved with the launch. Keep your team updated with each stage of the new product launch and make sure they know what their role is.
10. Be Visible, Start Marketing
It’s crucial to be where your audience is and to make sure they can see you. That means setting up a marketing, sales and advertising strategy. Think about PR opportunities, in-store events, email campaigns, social media, website banners, physical banners, paid advertising, blogs, live streams, videos and turning positive feedback into content that gets posted on social media or shared via your newsletter. You don’t have to implement all these strategies at once. Start with a few channels, learn what works and go from there.
11. Choose Your Product Launch Type
There are three main new product launch types. MVP (minimum viable product), soft launch and full-scale:
- MVP. An MVP is the barebones version of a product. It won’t have all of the features but it will address the main need. It’s great for product testing and you can use the feedback offered to make improvements. MVPs don’t work for every product type. For example, a new t-shirt might not have a barebones version.
- Soft. A soft launch is sometimes known as a beta launch. The full product is released, but only certain people can try it. You might, for example, send a new lipstick applicator to subscribers on your email list before anyone else can buy it in the store. This is another way to test products and get feedback, and also works as a good marketing tool for some items.
- Full-scale. A full-scale launch is the official release. Your product is ready for the wider market and you take an all or nothing approach. You want to make a big impact and you’re hoping for sales to come in quickly. This is the most commonly used product launch type.
You’ve chosen your launch type, you’ve prepared by following all the previous steps, there’s nothing left to do but launch your product. Make sure you’re pushing out your promotional content, your continuing to create a buzz and all your teams have the right resources.
It’s important to be ready for anything that can go wrong. As long as you have a contingency plan in place, you can recover any mistakes or mishaps. Be available to your team and make every member knows what their job is.
📚**Further reading:** Weeks of Supply Formula: Is it Right For Your Business?
13. Measure Your New Product Launch Success
Whichever new product launch type you chose, you’re going to receive both positive and negative feedback. You’ll also have lots of data on sales, inventory levels, click through rates on email campaigns, etc. Analyze your data and make adjustments where possible.
You can use things that haven’t gone well to improve and you can also spot gaps in the market. It might be that you’re selling well but many of your customers aren’t who you originally targeted. Use this data to plan for the next sales period and marketing campaigns.
14. Keep Testing and Keep Iterating
Your new product won’t be new forever but you can keep testing the market and measuring its success. If you have products that you can tweak or combine with others to create new sales, you can do tests to see what works and what doesn’t. Make changes where you need to and double down on the areas that are working well.
Tips and Ideas for Launching a New Product
If you follow the steps above when launching a new product, you’ll be moving in the right direction but here are some tips and ideas to make the process even more fruitful:
Timing is Everything
Your customers need to be ready to buy when you launch a new product. You might buy a winter coat in the spring but you’re more likely to buy one in the autumn. Think about what your audience needs and think about when they need it before you launch your new product.
Use inventory planning software to look at trends and buying habits so you can release your product at the best possible time.
📌Get Started: Seasonal trends change all the time so make sure you’re planning for them with Singuli’s Advanced Forecasting.
Think About the Full Customer Experience
One great way to think about the full customer experience is to become the first customer. Pretend you don’t know anything about your new product launch and you’ve just seen a social media ad.
What story does the ad tell you? Does it make you want to learn more? How easy is it to click through to the website to buy? Do you have all the information you need to make a purchase? When you click to buy, what are your payment options? What are your delivery options? Is there a clear returns policy? Is it easy to contact customer service?
There are a lot more questions to ask, but starting here will help you improve the customer experience and avoid friction that could turn people away.
Create Excitement With Contests
Most of the excitement of contests is in the build up. You want to know more about what you could win, how many people are taking part and what chance you have of taking home the prize. You’re more likely to get people to take part if you make the competition relevant to your product.
For example, one way of generating email subscribers with a contest is by putting the first 5,000 people to sign up into a draw to win the new handbag you’re launching. You could offer them the chance to pick it up personally from the designer or to use it at an exclusive, all inclusive dinner for two at a Michelin starred restaurant as an extra incentive.
You’ll get the chance to build hype for your product launch, generate engagement, grow your following and sign people up to your email list. Plus, the participants who don’t win your new product will have learned so much about it that they’ll often buy it instead.
Offer Free Samples
Who doesn’t like to be given something for free? Not all products can be offered as a free sample but if you’re selling perfume, food or certain cosmetics, for example, you could offer a smaller version for free to entice a new customer.
Connect With Customers
There are lots of ways to connect with your customers. You can offer incentives for early adopters, talk to them directly in forums or on social media and collect feedback to improve offers down the line. Your product is only worth what your customers think it is so keep on top of their needs at all times.
Get the Backend Ready
Streamlining your operations is one of the most important parts of a new product launch. It’s important to have tools in place so you can forecast demand correctly, build strong relationships with suppliers and easily issue POs and replenishment orders. Take size curves into consideration so you don’t end up with lots of smalls and no mediums and make sure you can manage all your locations (online and off) from one backend.
Start With Your End Goal
Why are you launching your new product in the first place? What are you looking to achieve both from a customer and a business point of view? You know there’s a customer need if you’ve followed the steps but how does selling this item help your business? Is it a cash cow or are you willing to sell at a loss to bring in more customers, for example? Think about what you want to achieve and measure your success against that goal.
Get Started With Your New Product Launch
Whether you use this 14 step plan as is or adapt it for your business, you now have lots of tips and ideas for your new product launch. With each new product launch, you’ll learn what works and what doesn’t so you can iterate on your strategy. Make data-backed decisions for a successful new product launch with Singuli’s inventory optimization software.
Forecast demand, issue and track POs, reorder on autopilot, and step up your reporting game across multiple channels and locations. Get in touch to see how Singuli can help you optimize your inventory.