26 Product Launch Strategies

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Print out this presentation double-sided.Use flashcards as stimulus for product launch brainstorms. Mix and match flashcards to try different combinations.Challenge convention. Be different. Be brave. Select your best ideas.Launch product.Sit back and watch sales come in.

Credits: Richard Pentin, Planning Director at TMW @ifonlyblog

DRIPPING TAPA controlled reveal over time

When to use it?High interest categoryAvid fan baseComplex product category (eg automotive, gaming, IT, entertainment)When full suite of launch assets are not yet available

Whats so good about it?Sustains buzz over timePress journalists thrive on this approach as they need brand stories to fill column inchesFuels insatiable appetite from avid fanbase

Whats not so good about it?Conventional/traditional

The film industry are masters at drip feeding stories in the run up to the official premiere. Trailers, posters, behind the scenes footage, soundtracks, interviews with protagonists, advanced screenings and PR stunts all designed to create positive buzz and generate box office success.


LOCKDOWN Enforce a strict embargo on all outbound communications until launch

David Bowie launched latest album completely out the blue and to huge critical acclaim

When to use it?In high interest categoriesWhen you have a strong fan baseHigh confidence in new product/serviceTo gain competitor advantageWhen you dont have a lot to say!Often used in conjunction with other approaches (eg Fanfare, Stampede)

Whats so good about it?Speculation fuels rumours/buzzCatches competition off guardNo cost

Whats not so good about it?Hard to enforce prone to unofficial leaksProduct may not meet the hypeNo opportunity to unpack story over timeEXAMPLESLOCKDOWN

RIPPLESEmpower key influencers to tell your story

When to use it?High interest product / categoryWhen product/campaign has social currencyExisting relationships with key influencers High confidence in product/service

Whats so good about it?More cost effective than talking to the massesMore authentic/persuasive

Whats not so good about it?Less controlReach dependant on engaging right influencersHarder to control launch message

Google Glass seeded prototypes to about 4,000 "Glass Explorers" who won an online competition to try them out (#ifihadglass). Drawing from celebrities, the fashion industry to bridal couples about to get married all will bring a unique and compelling perspective to help launch this innovative technology to a more mainstream audience.EXAMPLESRIPPLES

GRASS ROOTSCreate groundswell from existing fans before opening up to broader market

When to use it?High interest product / categoryLoyal/avid fanbaseHigh confidence in product/serviceLower budgets

Whats so good about it?Rewards biggest advocatesMobilises your unpaid sales armyInvariably costs less than talking to the masses

Whats not so good about it?Preaching to the convertedPotentially slow burnHard to get reachEXAMPLESWispa chocolate bar was discontinued by Cadburys but relaunched after passionate fans canvassed for its return on Facebook and various other platforms and events.

Cadburys bought 1,000 billboards in the UK and Ireland and invited fans to submit messages which would feature in their campaign.GRASS ROOTS

FANFAREA big bang at launch involving a concentrated burst of media investment across multiple channels

When to use it?Mainstream productsAt key seasonal events (eg Christmas, holidays) Usually used in conjunction with other strategies (eg Lockdown, Dripping tap or Ripple)

Whats so good about it?High profile Confidence adds layer of reassurance Integrated storytellingGalvanises internal stakeholders

Whats not so good about it?ExpensiveUnsustainableConventional




Court controversy in order to generate headlines or mass hysteria. (Based on the assumption theres no such thing as bad publicity)

When to use it?Challenger or provocative brandsYouth brandsPopular in fashion, music, gaming and FMCG industriesLow interest categories

Whats so good about it?Free publicityBuilds brand awareness quickly Affirms brands challenger status

Whats not so good about it?High riskPolarising - potential negative backlash

Sony Playstations Portable PlayerDeutsch


KEYNOTELive event with key influencers to reveal product including live demonstration and live streaming. Media investment focused around promoting event.

When to use it?High tech categories (eg IT, automotive, gaming, consumer electronics)High profile brand ambassadorsConfidence in product benefits/innovation

Whats so good about it?Product is heroProduct benefits clearly articulated

Whats not so good about it?Relies on charismatic speakers

Apples Steve Jobs was the master of keynote launch presentations

Automotive brands frequently use keynote format to launch products at motorshowsEXAMPLESKEYNOTE

SAMPLINGEnable consumers to experience or trial product for free from traditional product sampling to live multi-player demonstrations

When to use it?Anything from FMCG, beverage, software, gaming to social startupsComplex products which need to be experienced To reward early adopters or advocates When brand has confidence in product benefits/innovation

Whats so good about it?Puts product into consumers hands from outset

Whats not so good about it?Can be expensiveCall of Duty and other gaming brands use MMORPG to demonstrate new game releases


STAMPEDEBased on the scarcity principle.Create the impression of excess demand by restricting supply.(eg restricted opening hours, retail outlets, stock levels, Limited Editions)

When to use it?One-off eventsHigh season (eg Christmas, Summer)High demand/avid fanbaseLimited retail footprint

Whats so good about it?Gives impression of excessive demandCreates visual evidence of fanaticismProvides exclusivity to selected partners

Whats not so good about it?Lost sales due to stock management issuesConsumer frustrationUpset children at Christmas!When Rolling Stones announced an intimate gig at Brixton Academy in July 1995, the only way to get tickets was to tune into Virgin Radio on a specific day. Only then would the DJ announce where tickets would be on sale.

Resulted in national coverage of massive queues blocking up Oxford Street outside Virgin Megastores and a sell out tour.


BETAMODEAdopt a more iterative approach to product launches by giving early access to new product in order to gain feedback which could enhance product development before general release

betamodeApproach #10/

When to use it?Categories where issues can be rectified relatively quickly (eg IT, software, gaming, social platforms, apps)

Whats so good about it?Fast to market - agile marketingEmpowers communityTransparentBetter product design through crowdsourced feedback

Whats not so good about it?Risky/exposes technical flawsPotentially damaging to brand if product is inferior

Flipboard launched Android app in beta so any teething problems could be ironed out whilst driving positive buzz within Android communityMojang's launched their popular game Scrolls in beta, following the same iterative development cycle as Minecraft. The game is sold at a discounted rate during the beta period with the aim of making improvements based on community feedback.EXAMPLESBETAMODE

RIDDLESCreate an elaborate and immersive experience across a range of platforms where public have to solve clues to reveal product or win prize

Web 1.0 (websites, email), Web 2.0 (Google Maps, Interactive Media, Wiki, Blogs, Videos, Social Networking), SEO, SEM, Viral, ARG, eDM, SMS, Print, Outdoor, 3rd Party Partnership, Experiential...

When to use it?Any brands where the prize is considered big enoughAvid, passionate fanbase who are prepared to invest the time

Whats so good about it?Can create significant buzz Extends product launch cycleImmersive experiences, plays to digital strengths

Whats not so good about it?Potentially expensive and labour intensiveCan be guilty of preaching to the convertedRequires a lot of effort from consumers which may deflate responseEXAMPLES

To launch Lynx Attract, Lynx provided a range of clues which the target audience had to decipher in order to win the ultimate prize a holiday to Chaos IslandRIDDLES

Start small and watch it build momentum of its own. Often involves seeding something which goes viral.


snowballApproach #12/

How does it work?Start small and watch it build momentum of its own. Often involves seeding something which goes viral

When to use it?When you have a strong, contagious idea

Whats so good about it?Cost effective way to gain reach

Whats not so good about it?Invariably requires investment to kickstartViral success is not guaranteedUntargetedTNT TV channel in Belgium created an entertaining ad which they seeded in social. After some initial promotion the video built momentum of its own and went viral.

44.8 million views and counting(as at 18.4.13)


COAT TAILSExploit the power of positive association and ride on the coat tails of someone famous

When to use it?When product or brand is not well known and needs additional endorsement/supportWhen brand or celebrity share similar values

Whats so good about it?Qu