How to Launch a New Product: Product Launch Checklist

March 27, 2024
Morgan Kingdon

Launching a new product

Launching a new product is a risky endeavor, with research showing that as many as 95% of innovations fail at their initial launch. This alarming statistic highlights the importance of not only conducting product innovation successfully but also executing a well-designed marketing plan to support its launch. 

Identifying a framework and best practices for both product innovation and product launch is vital for businesses looking to defy the odds and successfully introduce their products to the market.

In this article, we will present a comprehensive product launch checklist to equip you with the tools and knowledge you need to navigate this critical phase effectively and avoid becoming part of the alarming majority of failed innovations. Whether you are a startup venturing into uncharted territory or an established company looking to launch a new product innovation!

1. Know Your Consumers

To effectively market a new product, marketers need to have a deep understanding of their target consumers. This involves knowing their preferences, needs, demographics, and behavior patterns. By getting aligned on their ideal consumer profile, businesses make their marketing budgets and resources more effective by tailoring their marketing strategies to resonate with those most likely to be high-value consumers for the brand. 

Defining Your Target Consumer

Defining your target consumer involves a systematic process of using metrics, analytics, and research. It starts by investigating existing consumer data, if available, such as purchasing patterns, behaviors, and feedback. By analyzing this information, patterns and trends can emerge, providing valuable insights into the target audience.

In addition, competitive analysis plays a crucial role in understanding the market landscape. By studying competing products and their target audiences, marketers can identify gaps in the market and opportunities for differentiation for the product being launched.

Once a comprehensive understanding of the target consumer is established, the next step is to create user personas. User personas are fictional characters that represent different segments of the target audience. These personas capture various demographic information, pain points, motivations, and goals. By diving into the user's preferences, behaviors, and expectations, organizations can align their product offerings accordingly.

Gathering Consumer Feedback

Gathering consumer feedback is a crucial step in understanding consumer needs and improving product satisfaction or performance. By actively soliciting and analyzing feedback, businesses can identify areas for improvement and enhance their products and services to meet consumer expectations better.

To efficiently gather consumer feedback, various tools and methods can be used. 

Using social media to gather consumer feedback

Many of your most engaged consumers may already be following you on social media. If that’s the case, here are a few tools you can use to collect feedback about your brand or product: 

  1. Create a contest on any social media platform and ask followers to answer a question for a chance to win.
  2. Create a group of super fans on Facebook or invite top fans to your “Close Friends” list on Instagram. Ask these followers and fans for feedback regularly. 
  3. Use Instagram Stories to run surveys using the poll function to get a quick pulse of feedback from your audience. A great tool for quickly testing assumptions you might have about your audience.
  4. Monitor mentions of your brand on social media. This is a great option for brands that might not have a robust social media following. It also helps marketers understand how your consumers talk about you when they aren’t communicating directly with the brand. 
  5. Host a live broadcast event. These events allow you to connect with your consumers on a personal level and get feedback in real-time through live chats and Q&A features.

Interviews to gather consumer feedback

Interviewing some of your top consumers is another effective way to build your ideal consumer profile and understand your consumers’ main pain points, how they make purchase decisions in your category and more. 

Consumer interviews may be conducted 1-on-1 or in a focus group setting with multiple consumers in a single meeting. Consumer interviews help get to the “why” behind a consumer’s behavior, where a survey might otherwise fall short. That’s why it’s important to keep questions open-ended and not be afraid to go off-script if there is an opportunity to dig in and uncover more granular insights. 

Using Sampler to gather and analyze consumer feedback

Digital sampling and product discovery platforms like Sampler help marketers gather feedback pre- or post-product launch. Sampler’s team of CPG experts will help you find (or hone) your target consumer, deliver the product right to their doorstep, and help you analyze consumer feedback based on several dimensions and segments including but not limited to demographic, psychographic, and behavioral attributes.

By actively seeking feedback through any or all of these tools and methods, businesses can gain a deeper understanding of consumer needs, improve their products, and enhance overall consumer satisfaction and loyalty.

2. Defining Product Positioning

Defining product positioning is a crucial step in marketing a product launch as it allows the marketer to communicate the unique value of their products to the target market. It involves clearly defining the position a product holds in the minds of consumers relative to competing alternatives.

Once you have taken the time to understand your target consumer and understand their needs, preferences, and behaviors, marketers can tailor their product messages and benefits accordingly. 

Next, it is important to analyze the competition and the existing positioning strategies they employ. This helps marketers identify gaps or opportunities in the market that they can leverage to better position and market their product at launch.

Once these factors are taken into account, a clear and concise positioning statement is developed. This statement should highlight the unique selling proposition (USP) of the product and will be used to communicate the USP to the target market. The USP guides consumers in understanding the product and its benefits quickly and effectively.

Effective product positioning is crucial as it sets a product apart from its competitors. It helps consumers understand why they should choose a particular product over others. By clearly communicating the benefits and value it offers, product positioning influences the consumers' perception and decision-making process. It helps products stand out in a crowded marketplace, establish a strong brand image, and ultimately drive sales and revenue growth.

3. Align With Your Stakeholders

Aligning with your stakeholders is crucial for the success of any project or initiative. By considering the needs, interests, and expectations of your stakeholders, you can ensure that your goals are in line with theirs and that your actions and decisions are supported by those who have a vested interest or influence over your project. 

By aligning with your stakeholders, you can build trust, secure resources, mitigate risks, and improve the overall outcomes of your product launch.

Identifying Key Stakeholders

Key stakeholders in a product launch may include employees working in Operations, R&D, Finance and Sales, as well as executives, and board members. These individuals play an important role in the product launch as they provide valuable advice and feedback on the launch plan.

Employees in functions outside of Marketing are vital stakeholders as they are directly involved in the daily operations and will often be able to identify operational risks that could jeopardize the success of a product launch. They can provide feedback on the feasibility and practicality of the product launch plan and assist in the smooth execution and implementation of a marketer’s product launch plan.

Executives also play a significant role in the product launch process. They have more strategic responsibilities and oversee the overall success of the launch. Their input is essential in aligning the product launch with the company's goals and objectives. They will also often be the decision makers for distributing resourcing and the budget that you need for a successful product launch. 

Board members have a financial interest in the success of the product launch. Their role is to provide guidance, resources, and investment capital to support the launch. Their valuable insights and experience can also help shape the launch strategy and help marketers make informed decisions ahead of the launch.

Communicating with Stakeholders

One important consideration when communicating with stakeholders is understanding or defining the level of communication and involvement needed from each stakeholder. Not all stakeholders will require the same level of information or involvement. Some may need to be fully informed and involved in every decision, while others may only need to be informed of progress and metrics.

One framework that can help you effectively manage stakeholder communication, is the RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) matrix. This matrix helps to identify when and how stakeholders should be involved in the product launch process. By clearly defining roles and responsibilities, the RACI matrix ensures that all stakeholders are aware of their level of involvement and can contribute effectively.

In addition to the RACI matrix, marketers should consider when to inform stakeholders of launch plans, when and how to train internal teams to effectively engage with stakeholders and consumers, and how to regularly keep everyone informed of progress and key metrics. By keeping stakeholders informed and involved at each stage of the product launch, businesses can maximize the chances of success and ensure that everyone is aligned towards a common goal.

4. Develop Product Branding

If you are launching a new brand into the market this step is a given, but what if you’re working on an established brand that is bringing a new product innovation to market, like a new flavor of M&M’s? This step of the innovation process will vary depending on the type of product launch in question: launching a new innovation, launching a new product line, or launching a new brand.

Launching a new innovation

Imagine, you are Kraft Mac & Cheese launching a new format of cheese pasta. If you’re launching microwavable bowls, a new flavour or a new size, there is likely little that needs to be done from a branding standpoint. Your brand is already signalling to consumers that this new product will bring them the same one-of-a-kind cheesy taste they’ve come to expect from the brand. 

Many brands will choose to establish a strong creative direction to differentiate that the new product is indeed, new, but won’t necessarily create a new brand. M&Ms for example, will release a new flavor multiple times a year and while the M&Ms characters might change accessories or color pallets, the brand voice and imagery remain consistent across the brand. 

Launching a new product line

If you are launching a new product line with more than one SKU, a sub-brand to align with your product launch may be necessary. Especially if your product is targeting a different consumer profile than your core brand. 

For example, Pringles Scorchin’ product line aims to expand the appeal of Pringles to a consumer that prefers spicy snacks. To stand out to consumers who may not have considered Pringles in the past the new line needs to be differentiated on shelf while remaining part of the Pringles family with core branding like the Pringles logo. 

Launching a new brand

If you are developing a product at an established CPG company, there are very few instances when a net new brand needs to be launched rather than launching under the core parent brand, but they do exist. 

Take, for example, Belvita, a breakfast cookie innovation launched by Nabisco in 1998. Nabisco understood that none of their existing cookie brands (Oreo and Animal Crackers, etc) couldn’t get away with being a breakfast food that appealed to adults.

If that sounds like your new product innovation, or if this is the first product launch for your new brand, this is the point in your planning where you need to develop product branding. Your product’s brand will include a unique identity and image, consisting of carefully crafting the elements that make up the brand, such as the name, logo, colors, tagline, and overall visual identity. 

Market research plays a vital role in the development of product branding. It helps to identify the market trends and styles that, when tied together through visuals and tone will result in a brand that will resonate with your target consumer to keep your brand and new product top of mind at and past launch.

5. Planning Your Marketing Channels

Now that you’ve done all the prep work to position your new product launch, it’s time to plan your campaign and ensure you’re getting in front of your target market. From planning your marketing channels to setting clear goals and creating a timeline, meticulous planning of your launch campaign is essential to avoid any hiccups along the way. 

When launching a new product, it is essential to have a well-planned marketing strategy that effectively reaches and engages the target consumer. One key element of this strategy is distributing content and ads across several marketing channels. There are three main types of marketing channels you may be considering to promote your product launch: owned channels, paid channels, and earned media.

Owned channels refer to the channels that a company controls and include platforms such as the company's website, blog, and social media accounts. This type of channel allows the marketer to have complete control over the content and messaging, making it an ideal platform to showcase the benefits of the new product and connect with the audience directly. Owned media will also typically come at the lowest cost vs other channels but may not have the desired scale for promoting your product launch.

Paid channels involve paying for advertising space or placement on various platforms such as TV, radio, print, digital sampling, and digital or social channels. This type of channel can help reach a wider audience quickly and generate brand awareness with those within your target audience. With paid channels, businesses can target specific demographics and optimize campaigns to effectively generate awareness and sales.

Earned media, on the other hand, is essentially free publicity gained through word-of-mouth, consumer reviews, social media shares, and mentions in news articles or blogs. To generate earned media it is essential to deliver a product that expertly addresses your consumer’s needs, driving consumers to feel compelled to talk about it. Earned media is highly influential as it is seen as genuine and trustworthy by potential consumers.

Each of these marketing channels offers unique benefits in a go-to-market strategy. By strategically combining these channels, businesses can ensure a successful product launch and reach the target market effectively.

6. Executing Your Launch Strategy

It’s time to put your carefully crafted launch plan into action, to generate maximum impact and create a strong initial impression on your target audience. A well-executed launch strategy can help you build momentum, create buzz, and drive consumer engagement.

Create & Test Promotional Assets

Creating and testing promotional assets before your product launch is a crucial step in ensuring a successful marketing campaign. 

Firstly, it is important to align the promotional assets with the strategy you built out in the first five steps, which outlines the target consumer, messaging, distribution channels, and marketing channels. By aligning the content with this strategy, the promotional assets can effectively reach and engage the intended audience.

Additionally, the promotional assets should directly support the key performance indicators (KPIs) of the product launch. These KPIs may include metrics such as sales revenue, trial & repeat purchases, market share, website traffic, or brand awareness. By creating content that aligns with these KPIs, marketers can measure the success of their promotional efforts and make data-driven decisions.

When creating promotional assets, a variety of content should be considered. This may include product photos, website content, tutorials, product descriptions, support documentation, FAQs, trade marketing materials, social media assets, ads, and press releases. These different types of content cater to different channels, further enhancing the reach and impact of the promotional campaign.

Once initial versions of your promotional assets are available, test their impact through creative testing platforms like Swayable, Userlytics and other pre-market testing platforms that can help you test and optimize your creative before putting marketing dollars behind distribution on your channels.

Set Your Team Up for Success

Setting your team up for success in executing a product launch is crucial for the overall success of the launch. Here are the steps to achieve this:

1. Team Alignment: Ensure that everyone on the team is aligned with the product launch strategy. Communicate the objectives, goals, and timelines to the team members. Encourage open discussions and address any concerns or questions.

2. Clear Communication: Establish a robust communication framework to keep all team members informed and engaged. This includes regular meetings and updates to discuss progress, challenges, and opportunities. Utilize collaborative tools such as project management software or communication platforms to facilitate smooth information sharing.

3. Defined Roles: Clearly define the roles and responsibilities of each team member involved in the product launch. This ensures that everyone understands their specific tasks and can work efficiently towards the shared goals. Avoid overlapping responsibilities to prevent confusion and delays.

4. Measurable Metrics and SMART Goals: Set measurable metrics and SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals for the product launch. This provides a clear direction for the team and allows for effective monitoring and assessment of progress.

5. Frequent Updates: Regularly provide updates on the progress of the product launch to the internal teams. This keeps everyone engaged, motivated, and accountable. Encourage open feedback and address any challenges promptly to maintain momentum.

To monitor conversations about the product launch, set up hashtags, UTM tracking and other conversation monitoring. Tools like Sprout Social, Later Media, HeyOrca, Meltwater and more provide comprehensive analytics and tagging capabilities, helping you gauge the impact of your marketing efforts and track conversations surrounding the launch.

7. Launch Your Product

It’s time to launch! Here are the steps you can take to prepare for launch:

1. Create a Launch Day Checklist: Develop a comprehensive checklist that outlines all the necessary tasks to be completed before, during, and after the product launch. This will help you stay organized and ensure that nothing is missed.

2. Check Details and Arrangements: Double-check all the details for the launch event, including venue, invitations, agenda, and logistics. Make sure everything is ready to create a positive impression on your target consumer.

3. Monitor Social Media Channels: Today, social media plays a vital role in product launches. Monitor social media platforms for mentions, feedback, and engagement related to your product. Respond promptly to customer inquiries and concerns.

4. Ensure Website Functionality: A well-functioning website is crucial for a successful product launch. Test the website thoroughly to ensure it can handle increased traffic and transactions effectively. Monitor website uptime, particularly throughout the launch and fix any bugs or issues promptly.

5. Evaluate Performance: After the launch, monitor sales figures, customer feedback, and market response. Assess the success of the product launch against predetermined goals and objectives. Make necessary adjustments based on the feedback received.

6. Celebrate Success: Once the launch is successful, celebrate as a team to recognize the efforts and hard work put into the product launch.

8. Measure success metrics and learn

Analyzing your product launch performance against the success metrics provides valuable insights into the performance and success of the product launch, enabling managers and decision-makers to make informed and data-driven decisions.

Tracking KPIs helps marketers monitor and evaluate their progress toward achieving a successful product launch. By regularly reviewing these metrics, you can identify areas of improvement and take corrective actions to optimize your launch strategy to improve performance.

Measuring consumer satisfaction is equally important as it helps businesses understand how their products or services are being received in the market. Positive consumer satisfaction translates to customer loyalty and repeat purchases, which are crucial for long-term business success. By collecting and analyzing data on customer satisfaction levels, businesses can identify customer pain points, identify trends, and adapt their strategies to meet evolving customer needs and preferences.

Assessing sales performance allows businesses to evaluate the effectiveness of their sales strategies and tactics. It helps in identifying top-performing sales representatives or teams, determining product or service performance, and identifying market trends and opportunities. By closely monitoring sales performance metrics such as revenue, conversion rates, and customer acquisition costs, businesses can optimize their sales processes, improve profitability, and drive growth.

Key Takeaways

1. Know Your Consumers

2. Defining Product Positioning

3. Align With Your Stakeholders

4. Develop Product Branding

5. Planning Your Marketing Channels

6. Executing Your Launch Strategy

7. Launch Your Product

8. Measure and Learn

Want to supercharge and de-risk your product launch? We want to help. Book a discovery call with one of our marketing experts here.


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