When you’ve already got a successful line of products on the market, bringing something new to your customers can feel daunting. How will the new product land? Should you just stay in your lane? What if your customers aren’t interested?
While these are normal questions that likely clutter your brain, it is possible for retailers to stack the proverbial deck in their favor when it comes to releasing new products.
In this post, we’ll walk you through some tried-and-true techniques to successfully launch a new product or collection with your existing brand.
As with any good business plan, it pays to do your research. Does your new product target the same demographic as your previous products, or are you trying to break into a new market?
Regardless, taking the time to do some comprehensive market research before you create your launch plan will your new collection the best start possible.
If you’re hoping to reach the same target market, a great place to start your research might be with your current customers. Looking to some of your top customers for feedback on your new collection will help you to gauge how it will land with your larger audience. These customers already love you and want your brand to succeed.
On the other hand, if you’re trying to take a new direction or break into a different market, you’ll want to start by profiling your new target customer. Your new target market likely has different demographics from your original brand. Building a persona to go along with this new market will help you to decide which strategies will work best to help you to successfully launch your new collection.
When looking to launch a new collection, you don’t have to reveal all of your cards all at once. Creating suspense around your new product will help to build buzz, and get people talking before it hits the market.
Instagram, in particular, is a great platform for giving customers a little sneak peek of what’s to come, without giving away the whole shebang in one go. You can achieve this with behind-the-scenes pics (prior to launching your new product or collection) and teaser photos, similar to this post from Adidas:
Doing a countdown to your new product launch is another way to build excitement. Use a plugin or app like Countdown Timer or Hurrify to install a countdown clock on your Shopify store. To build buzz in-store, you can put up a countdown on a chalkboard or using digital signage.
Build Relationships With Influencers
Modern consumers tend to rely more on online customer reviews and word-of-mouth referrals to decide which products to buy. So, it makes sense that they’d be more likely to check out your new product if they hear about it from a real person.
For this reason, connecting with influencers can be a good way to reach your target audience and build brand trust. These relationships can take on a few different forms:
- Free Product: For micro-influencers, or influencers who are already big fans of your brand, simply giving them free product might be enough to get coverage of your new collection.
- Paid Advertising: For some, being an influencer is now a full-time job. More established influencers will likely have a standard set rate for promoted posts on their social media accounts and blogs.
- Brand Ambassadors: Brand Ambassador programs vary widely. Some provide ambassadors with a continuous stream of product as new lines are launched, and others simply offer a mutually beneficial platform for cross-promotion between brand and ambassador. Regardless of the specifics, this model is more of a long-term formalized partnership between influencer and brand.
Using your email list to let your customer base know about your upcoming product launch allows you to track helpful stats like open rates — and you also reach an already-engaged audience with minimal effort.
Using your email list to announce your new line also offers you the ability to give customers a little bit more context about your new product.
Don’t have an email list yet? Building one in time for your launch doesn’t have to be complicated.
If you sell your products in real life — like at pop-ups or craft fairs — visual merchandising can play a major role in a successful product launch. Humans are naturally drawn to things that are new, so making it clear that event attendees are getting the first peek at a new collection or product.
Sometimes, despite all of your best efforts, your target customer just needs to give your product a spin before committing to buy. Customers might feel nervous about dropping their hard-earned dollars on a completely unfamiliar product.
One of the easiest strategies that you can use to make customers feel more at ease about your new collection is to let it speak for itself. Obviously, this approach isn’t right for all brands, but we tried to include a wide range of options for getting your product out in the world sooner.
Run a Contest
If you aren’t able to part with a lot of product for free, running a contest can be a great way to build buzz around your new collection, engage your brand’s current fans, and reach new customers.
Depending on the type of contest you run, this approach can also have the double whammy benefit of helping you to build your email list, increase your social media following, and learn about customers who are interested in your new product.
FURTHER READING: Want more guidance into contests? Learn more about running a stellar giveaway here.
Give it Away
Everyone loves getting something for free. Depending on what your product is, samples can help you to let a large group of existing or potential customers have a taste of your new collection. Samples can be tacked on to orders at no charge, of you can also offer samples in your online shop for a low (or no) fee.
Way of Will is a Toronto-based essential oil line that offers the option to add up to three free samples to any order. This approach lets current customers try out your new product at no extra charge, and also makes your customers feel special.
Many small perfume producers have the option to purchase sample-sized $6-$7 vials of their scents online, so that they can reach customers who don’t live near a physical store that sell their stock.
Especially for products that customers need to see (or smell) in person before buying, this option gives them a low-risk entry point to get to know your product. This can be especially beneficial when your product is too new to have reviews up online.
There are many different ways that you can use samples to benefit your brand — it’s just about finding the one that’s right for you.
FURTHER READING: Not sure how to move forward with free samples? Learn more about the science of freebies and how they can benefit your business.
Or Just Let Them Test it Out
Nike knows better than any brand that letting someone test out your product is one of the best ways to get them to buy it. Nike has a test van that visits running groups to allow runners to take that season’s new shoes out for a test run before buying them.
The sneaker market is pretty noisy, and Nike knows that letting runners try before they buy makes it more likely for runners to drop $150 on their shoes instead of on someone else’s.
Recently, Adidas has started to take the same approach, so clearly something’s working.
To take advantage of this tactic yourself, consider setting up a demo table within your physical store. You can also offer demonstrations at in-person sales events like fairs, festivals, and markets in order to illustrate how customers can use your products and allow them to try it out themselves.
After all, more retailers are going from traditional storefronts to showrooms. The future of retail skews toward experiences — where customers can touch, try, and see products in person, then purchase them and have them mailed straight to their doorstep. So, facilitating this kind of immersive brand experience is one way to create brand loyalty and set up your new products for success.
Moving Forward With Launching Your New Products
Whichever approach you decide to use, don’t be afraid of tweaking things as you go. There’s always room to scrap an idea and start fresh if it turns out one approach isn’t working the way that you had planned.
At the end of the day, building relationships and getting your product in front of new people, are the overarching keys to new product launch success.