Successful Consumer Product Launches Share Certain Traits

Successful consumer product launches are more than merely luck, indicates a just completed study of 100 consumer product launches that occurred primarily between 1998 and 2000. Well-planned, thoughtfully executed new product launches developed as distinct phases from other product-development activities were much more likely to be successful than less closely managed product launches. "The launch phase is its own intricate puzzle and should be treated as such," says Joan Schneider, president of public relations firm Schneider & Associates, Boston, which commissioned the study in collaboration with Boston University's Communication Research Center. Analysis of the findings also suggest that:

  • Brand managers, not senior executives, are critical to launch success. According to the report, 84% of product launches led by product or brand managers were highly successful, while launches led by CEOs and presidents, or by market vice presidents, were less successful 65% to 70% of the time.
  • Spending should be focused on consumers. Companies with highly successful products spent 78% of their marketing dollars on consumer-related activities rather than on trade campaigns.
  • Timing is not everything. Seventy percent of companies surveyed reported experiencing at least one timing delay in their product launch. The number of delays did not appear to impact the success of the product.
Harvard Business School's Susan Fournier also consulted on the new product launch report.
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