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.
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.