4 product launch pitfalls to avoid when bringing a new product to the market

I am fortunate enough to talk with marketing managers working at the world’s biggest brands. Many of them find it a challenge to launch new products without a real differentiator within the new product to awe the consumer.

Take smartphones for example: besides a better camera, battery, screen or design there has been no real invention in many years. At this moment manufacturers can only compete through the value of their brand, operating system or price.

Why do so many brands have trouble standing out?

In my opinion, it is not a lack of innovative people, creative ideas or even budget. Although I honour Mr Jobs for his incredible foresight and the genuine innovations he brought to the market, I refuse to believe that brands without the logo of a half eaten Apple don’t have employees who are unique geniuses and can come up with crazy beautiful stuff.

Instead, it is 1: simply very hard to do proper research and develop a truly innovative product from scratch, and 2: even if you have succeeded on this, to get it from there into a shop is really not that easy.

We have learned this in our effort to launch our own product. All signs were green when we started with this project: we had the idea, we figured we could create it, we believed it was something people wanted to buy, and we found a talented product designer with the specific technical knowledge to create the product. In our naive minds, we were only months away from scratch to a big success.

We were wrong. It took us a year, and we burned the complete funding of the project.

Lessons we learned by launching our own product 

What is so hard about creating and launching an innovative product? Here are four product launch pitfalls we should have avoided in the past year:

  1. Not understanding your consumer. Marketing teams struggle to launch new products because they don’t have enough consumer insights: the analysis of consumer-generated content (like reviews or social media coverage), the use of social listening software and proper use of big data can help.
  2. Management doesn’t (really) listen to their innovators. Innovators have great ideas but in many companies no decision power or influence on the decision-making process: many times, research and development is first to cut when profit is under pressure. This is understandable but true innovation is expensive.
  3. Lack of marketing budget. Usually, a company has a marketing budget for one or two hero products. All the other products simply don’t get a budget to get a proper market introduction. This is a problem for consumer electronic brands who bring 20 to 50 new products to the shelves each year. If 98% of those releases don’t have funds to get noticed by the crowd, how can they succeed?
  4. Decision makers going for quick wins. The time innovators spend on new ideas feels too long for decision makers who need to reach their goals. Those decision makers push old ideas and look for quick wins. A logical move but it puts the R&D department in a difficult spot.

We’ve made all the mistakes ourselves!

In the past year, we learned a lot about creating a product from scratch. We fell into each of the above 4 product launch pitfalls. Although we are finally close to something beautiful, the endeavor felt like a failure.

At least, it really helped us understand and admire the ‘product producing’ brands we work for much more.

Successfully creating and launching a unique product is hard. So here is a message to all innovators out there: We feel you, we admire you, we don’t want to be you!

In the meantime: if you have a product and you acknowledge the importance of more reviews, schedule a call with us and we are happy to explain our solutions to you.