What is Involved in a Product Launch?

Carol Francois

A product launch is a process of releasing a new product into the consumer marketplace. There are two types of launch: soft and hard. The type of launch used depends on the product, customer base and the marketplace climate. Both types follow the same basic steps of a launch, with minor variations in scope and depth.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

There are four stages to a product launch: target advertising, logistics, product placement, and marketing strategy. All four stages are necessary, but the time span required can vary from six weeks to two years. The length of the launch program depends on the product, competition, and area of launch. International launches are usually the longest.

Target advertising is planned and tested at least two months before the product launch. Local market research testing is done is each major city to test consumer response to the product and the campaign. Adjustments are made as required.

Advertising campaigns include strategies for print, radio and television ads. These need to be coordinated and released according to a specific schedule in order to provide coverage without over saturating the marketplace. Internet advertising strategies are becoming more popular, with product launch announcements placed on the Web and sent out through emails or blogs to interested customers.

Logistics is the management of the physical movement of the product. A successful launch requires the product to be available in stores for sale. Shelf space location and the arrival of the material on store shelves on a specific date require coordination, planning, and cooperation.

Product placement in television shows, movies and other media have been a very popular technique as part of a product launch. The timing of this type of advertising is complex, as most shows are filmed six months to one year before they appear on TV. Movies typically have an even longer lead-time requirement.

Research into successful launch projects has shown that effective use of the product placement technique increases consumer willingness to purchase the item. This can even include hiring local actors to use the product in a public place and recommend it to others. This is known as viral marketing and it takes advantage of the personal referral or word of mouth campaign.

Coordination and management of a product launch is usually the responsibility of the marketing staff. The launch is the first step in a long-term marketing strategy. It is critical to correctly identify the key features of a product and the consumer base, as it is very difficult to change strategy after the launch.

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Discussion Comments


In my husband's small business he had a niche product that belonged in 3 larger industries: agriculture, construction, and disaster relief.

They targeted one market and decided that a big part of their product launch was to show off their product at trade shows.

It is tough now to see how many direct sales came from that decision, as my husband feels like it gave them a presence in the industry and that companies were more likely to take a chance on them by knowing that they were in attendance at the major trade shows.

I personally would have preferred a product launch party to trade shows, but I don't know how sexy a tractor implement would have been as the theme for the party...


@Brickback - That sounds like an exciting business. My experience with product launches was merely from the consumer’s point of view. I was asked to participate in a research study that involved a new formulation of lipstick.

The company was trying to test a formula that was like a lip stain and offered some coverage but instead of coming across as light and glossy, it had a matte finish for longer wear. This was ideal for women that wanted some color on their lips, but did not want to have reapplied their lip color constantly.

With this new formulation the color was supposed to stay on for eight hours straight. The company sent me a sample and asked for my feedback and it as later launched in select markets. It was fun to be a part of testing phases of this product launch plan and I would love to participate in another one if I am eligible.


I used to work in the cosmetics business and we had a number of product launch events all the time. We would always send out beauty consultants to training class in order to have them learn how to sell the new products by learning the features and benefits of each.

They would also receive a free full size sample of the new product so that they could tell their customers about their personal experiences with the product.

We would also schedule huge events that involved having our beauty consultant’s book appointments with their customers in order to receive the free product sample. These events also included additional makeup artists that we would use to help with the additional business traffic for these special events.

We also used music and hired disc jockeys to really draw attention to our new product launch. Our advertising was also everywhere around the counters and in the main aisle of the department stores so you could not miss it.

We also ran print and radio ads simultaneously for the first few weeks of each launch.

The product launches were usually successful in most of our doors because our company had the product launch strategy down to a science.

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