How to get ready for a product launch with the right consumer insights

A product launch can be exciting but also carries a certain level of risk. What if the product flops or doesn’t perform to the level it was expected? That’s where product launch research comes in, which can be a lengthy process but is worth it, said Jo Munton, global insights senior manager at Avon.

“We need our products to appeal to as many consumers as possible,” Jo said on “Reel Talk: The Customer Insights Show.” “So when we go out to our markets and say ‘is this a project you would consider’ we need the uptake to be pretty positive or the product probably won’t go into development.”

And even when the research doesn’t provide all the answers a team is looking for, it can save making costly mistakes down the line with a new product.

Ideation and current knowledge

Jo said teams innovate all the time and look at what they already know about the customer base. They may have video survey answers from a year ago that can be referred back to. No research should ever be lost or simply disregarded, Jo said.

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“And then we have a look at these ideas, maybe refine them a little bit,” said Jo. “Then put them into an idea’s test, which would be quantitative. And then we look at the ones that do really well.”

The ones that performed below what the Avon team was expecting might get updated and run through a different test.

“Maybe the articulation wasn’t quite right,” she said.

All product launches should include: Here’s what’s new with this product and why the consumer would want it right now. That messaging is much easier to do well when we know what the consumer thinks they need.

Jo says products fall down if companies aren’t crystal clear of who it is they are trying to reach with a particular product.

“With any study, I want to understand as much as possible about our target consumer,” Jo said

Brian Monschein, Voxpopme vice president of research, said the more a new product differs from current offerings the more steps you’ll likely want to take when it comes to understanding how a launch can be a success.

“Throughout the phases, I do recommend a good mix of quant and qual to get consumer feedback,” he said. “Especially qual as that uncovers the why behind the quant findings.”

Start with:

  • Objectives
  • Understanding the consumer target

Moving into concepts

Teams collaborate on building the concept from here, which then goes into its own test.

Brian shares these tips for good concepts:

  • Use a clear and unique name for your concept
  • Have a good headline
  • Establish the problem being solved with the product
  • Offer the solution
  • Product benefit
  • Reason to belief (RTB)

Idea generation phase

“Create a pool of product ideas – and they can basically start from everywhere,” Brian said. “Secondary research, focus groups, internal brainstorming that you’ve done, consumer feedback or video surveys.”

Then run ideas for a new product or new features by consumers, Brian said.

From there, move into a more detailed test with consumers, which includes deeper questions.

Read next: How to follow the design thinking process to be more relevant to customers

Put a pilot product into the consumer’s hands

Move into product development of a prototype.

“The team will want to be involved here to make sure the product is aligned with all those consumer insights,” Brian said.

Putting the product now into the consumers’ hands can give companies insight on if people are using the product correctly. For example, Jo mentioned the focus group that looked at a new syringe, and a new mom took the medicine bottle, turned it upside down, and tried to fill the syringe that way.

“But that wasn’t the intention of that particular syringe,” Jo said, adding that the bottle didn’t have to be tipped upside down to fill the syringe. “but just having that and seeing how the consumer used the product was a revolution.”

From there, the company can make updates.

“The key message is to combine quantitative with qualitative and you are on the right track,” she said.

Remember differences by geography

Keep in mind that some products might work in some regions of the world but not others. Understanding the consumers in different regions of a global brand can also help teams understand their whole customer base better and know where to launch a product next. Jo said that reps from different areas of the world would give presentations at times overviewing their market.

Using some of these tips offered by experts in understanding their customers can set up product launches to be more likely to be successful.

Prioritize based on feedback

Brian explained that from here we want to prioritize features during the test product launch that tested well in the earlier stages.

Consider running a test launch in a select market or markets. For example, Mountain Dew is testing a new hard seltzer in three U.S. states.

Keep testing how the product is being seen by consumers and if they are using it the way you intended it to be used.

Based on what’s working in all these testing phases, build the marketing and advertising strategy around the strongest points of the product, Brian said.

Ready for launch

After gathering all the feedback and making necessary changes, roll out a full launch. And, of course, again keep testing and measuring to see what’s working and what could use an upgrade, said Brian.

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