In the intricate dance of digital marketing, a product launch stands out as one of the most defining moments for brands. It’s an opportunity to showcase innovation, capture the market, and establish a lasting presence. Yet, the road to product launch excellence is often riddled with unforeseen challenges. While many imagine such hurdles are exclusive to novices, the truth is that even seasoned pros aren’t immune. Before delving into the common mistakes that even the experts make, it’s essential to grasp what true product launch excellence looks like.
Launching a product is a mammoth task, fraught with anticipation, excitement, and of course, plenty of stress. With the weight of expectations, even seasoned professionals sometimes stumble. Striving for product launch excellence is crucial, but it’s just as important to recognise and sidestep these common pitfalls. Today, we’ll discuss six such errors.
Understanding Product Launch Excellence
Product launch excellence isn’t merely about unveiling a product; it’s about creating an immersive experience for your target audience. It’s about setting up your product’s trajectory for long-term success. No matter how many launches you’ve steered, there’s always something new to learn.
1. Failing to Understand the Market
Understanding the market is the cornerstone of product launch excellence. Even the most revolutionary of products can fall flat if they don’t cater to the needs and desires of their target audience. Despite its foundational importance, this aspect is sometimes underestimated or overlooked, leading to missed opportunities or outright failures.
- Microsoft Zune: In 2006, Microsoft introduced the Zune to compete with Apple’s iPod. Despite being technologically sound, Microsoft didn’t factor in that Apple’s iPod had already deeply entrenched itself within the consumer’s lifestyle. Zune’s marketing, design, and online ecosystem failed to offer anything significantly unique to sway loyal iPod users. It was clear that Microsoft didn’t quite grasp the market sentiment and the intangible value consumers placed on the Apple brand and its ecosystem. The result? Zune was discontinued in 2011.
- PepsiCo’s Crystal Pepsi: Launched in the 1990s, Crystal Pepsi was touted as a clear alternative to regular colas. However, PepsiCo misunderstood the market’s readiness for such a product. Consumers were confused about its taste, often expecting it to be more like a lemon-lime soda rather than a cola due to its clear appearance. PepsiCo overestimated the market’s desire for novelty without considering if the novelty made sense to the consumers. It was soon pulled from the shelves.
- Google Glass: Google, despite its track record of successful products, also faced the repercussions of not understanding the market fully with its Google Glass. Released in 2013, the product was technologically advanced and ahead of its time. However, Google misjudged public concerns about privacy and the intrusiveness of a wearable camera. Also, at a price point of $1,500, it was considered expensive for its perceived value. The market wasn’t ready for such a product, and its public release faced numerous criticisms leading to its discontinuation for general consumers.
2. Not Setting Clear Objectives during Product Launch
Setting clear objectives is akin to having a compass during a voyage; it ensures you remain on course and achieve the desired results. A well-defined objective provides direction, keeps the team aligned, and offers a clear metric for success. However, the importance of this crucial step is sometimes glossed over. When clear objectives aren’t set, product launches can become rudderless, and teams can find themselves lost at sea, unsure of what they’re striving for.
- Yahoo’s Acquisition of Tumblr: In 2013, Yahoo acquired Tumblr for about $1.1 billion. While the acquisition was met with much fanfare, it quickly became evident that Yahoo lacked a clear objective for the platform. Were they targeting it as a social media site? A blogging platform? A potential advertising goldmine? The lack of direction led to missteps, including aggressive ad placements which alienated users. By failing to set clear objectives for Tumblr post-acquisition, its value plummeted, leading to Yahoo writing down Tumblr’s value by hundreds of millions of dollars in subsequent years.
- HP’s TouchPad: Hewlett-Packard (HP) launched the TouchPad in 2011 to compete with Apple’s iPad. However, its objective was unclear. Was the TouchPad aiming to be a premium device to compete head-to-head with the iPad, or was it looking to carve out a niche segment for itself? This lack of clarity translated into mixed marketing messages and an inconsistent pricing strategy. Just 49 days after its debut, HP announced it would discontinue the TouchPad.
- New Coke: One of the most famous examples of not setting clear objectives is Coca-Cola’s 1985 launch of “New Coke”. Trying to combat dwindling market share and the ‘Pepsi Challenge’ taste tests, Coca-Cola changed its age-old formula. However, the objective was muddled – were they aiming for a better taste, a rejuvenated brand image, or simply responding to competition? The consumer backlash was fierce, and within a few months, the original formula was reintroduced as “Coca-Cola Classic.”
3. Overhyping the Product
Creating anticipation and excitement around a new product is a given in the world of marketing. However, there’s a fine line between generating genuine buzz and overhyping a product to the extent that it cannot possibly live up to the created expectations. When marketers cross this line, the risk of backlash increases exponentially, as customers feel let down or misled. Striking the right balance is crucial to ensuring the product’s reception matches the pre-launch enthusiasm.
- Segway: Before its launch, the Segway was hyped by its inventor, Dean Kamen, as a product that would be “to the car what the car was to the horse and buggy.” Such grand claims led people to believe it would revolutionise urban transportation. However, when it was finally unveiled in 2001, the public’s response was lukewarm. While innovative, the Segway didn’t redefine transport as promised, and the initial overhype led to perceptions of it as a somewhat underwhelming product.
- No Man’s Sky: Video game developer Hello Games faced immense criticism following the release of “No Man’s Sky” in 2016. During its promotional phase, the game was portrayed as an expansive universe with limitless possibilities, including highly intricate multiplayer interactions. When players delved into the game, they found that many of the touted features were absent or significantly different from what was promised. The discrepancy between the hype and the actual gameplay led to significant backlash.
- Fyre Festival: Possibly one of the most infamous examples of overhype in recent history, Fyre Festival was promoted as a luxury music festival experience, with celebrity endorsements, glamorous promotional videos, and promises of top-tier musical acts. Tickets sold for thousands, sometimes tens of thousands, of dollars. However, when attendees arrived, they found inadequate infrastructure, subpar accommodations, and a lack of basic necessities. The vast gulf between the luxurious marketing and the harsh reality led to outrage and legal actions.
4. Neglecting Post-Launch Strategy
While the spotlight is often on the launch event itself, what follows is equally, if not more, critical. A successful product launch isn’t the end of the journey; it’s merely the beginning. The post-launch phase is where brands nurture customer relationships, gather feedback, and make iterative improvements. Overlooking this phase or failing to plan for it can jeopardise the product’s long-term success and credibility.
- BlackBerry PlayBook: BlackBerry, once a titan in the smartphone world, launched the PlayBook tablet in 2011. While the device had potential, it was released without essential features like native email, calendar, or contact apps – a strange omission for a brand synonymous with business and productivity. BlackBerry assured users that updates would rectify these shortcomings, but the updates were slow to come. This lack of a robust post-launch strategy marred the PlayBook’s reputation and contributed to its underwhelming market performance.
- Windows 8: Microsoft’s Windows 8 was introduced with a radically different interface aimed at touch devices. Upon its release in 2012, users found the learning curve steep, especially with the removal of the familiar ‘Start’ button. Microsoft didn’t anticipate the extent of the pushback and was slow in its post-launch strategy to address user complaints. It wasn’t until Windows 8.1, released a year later, that some of these grievances were tackled.
- Snap Spectacles: Snapchat’s parent company, Snap Inc., released Spectacles in 2016: sunglasses with an integrated camera to record short videos for the platform. The initial buzz was strong, with unique vending machines and limited releases creating demand. However, once the product launched widely, Snap Inc. lacked a post-launch strategy to keep the momentum going. They overestimated demand, leading to hundreds of thousands of unsold units, and failed to iterate or introduce compelling use cases for the broader user base.
5. Overlooking Potential Technical Glitches
In the digital age, the launch of a product often involves intricate software, hardware, or both. Ensuring these work flawlessly is a mammoth task. No matter how much internal testing is conducted, real-world scenarios can bring forth unforeseen technical issues. While minor glitches can be forgiven, major technical oversights can overshadow the product’s merits and dominate its initial reception.
- Apple Maps: When Apple launched its mapping service in 2012 as a replacement for Google Maps on iOS devices, the outcome was far from smooth. Users quickly discovered misplaced landmarks, distorted imagery, and incorrect directions. Some found themselves directed to drive across airport runways. Despite Apple’s reputation for polished products, Apple Maps was released with significant technical issues that detracted from its user experience. It took multiple updates and years of refinements to bring it up to the standard users expected.
- Samsung Galaxy Note 7: In 2016, Samsung faced a major crisis with its Galaxy Note 7 smartphones. Soon after the product’s release, reports emerged of devices spontaneously catching fire due to battery issues. What should have been a flagship device for Samsung turned into a PR nightmare. The company had to recall millions of units, discontinue the product, and invest significantly to rebuild consumer trust.
- SimCity (2013): The highly anticipated reboot of the classic city-building game, SimCity, required players to be constantly online, even in single-player mode. However, at launch in 2013, the servers couldn’t handle the influx of players, leading to players being unable to access a game they’d purchased. Beyond just the server issues, the game had restrictions that weren’t present in previous versions, frustrating long-time fans. These technical glitches overshadowed the game’s merits and dominated its reception.
6. Inadequate Engagement with the Audience during Product Launch
Engaging with your target audience is the lifeline of any successful product launch. This engagement doesn’t merely mean marketing to them, but also involves listening, understanding their needs, and fostering a two-way conversation. Failing to engage adequately can result in the audience feeling alienated or unheard, leading to decreased interest and potentially even mistrust in the product and brand.
- Gap’s Logo Redesign: In 2010, the clothing retailer Gap introduced a new logo in an attempt to modernise its brand. However, this change was executed without adequate engagement with its audience. The new design was met with significant backlash from customers and designers alike, who felt it lacked the iconic and recognisable feel of the original. Recognising their misstep and the power of customer sentiment, Gap reverted to the original logo within a week.
- EA’s Star Wars Battlefront II: Electronic Arts (EA) faced massive backlash from gamers due to the game’s microtransaction system, which many felt was a ‘pay-to-win’ model. Players felt that they had to spend real money to unlock significant parts of the game, even after already purchasing it. The controversy became so extensive that it led to discussions about the ethics of in-game purchases. EA had failed to gauge its audience’s feelings on such systems, leading to negative press and forcing them to overhaul the game’s progression and microtransaction systems.
- Tropicana’s Packaging Redesign: In 2009, Tropicana undertook a complete redesign of its product packaging. Believing it was a refreshing modernisation, they soon discovered they hadn’t adequately gauged their audience’s attachment to the original design. Sales dropped by 20% over a two-month period, amounting to a staggering loss of approximately $30 million. Feedback indicated that consumers found the new design unrecognisable and confusing. The company promptly reverted to the previous design.
Why Choose XO3D as your partner in product launching?
In the realm of product launches, it’s crucial to have the right partner by your side, and this is where XO3D shines.
Expertise in the Field
With a rich history of assisting brands in their product launches, XO3D has honed its skills to perfection. Our team comprises professionals who understand the nuances of the digital market, ensuring product launch excellence at every step.
Cutting-Edge 3D Visualisation
At XO3D, we believe in staying ahead of the curve. Our state-of-the-art 3D visualisation techniques can bring your product to life, creating an unforgettable experience for your audience.
No two launches are the same. XO3D prides itself on offering bespoke solutions tailored to the unique needs of each brand, ensuring that your product shines in the spotlight.
From the inception of your idea to the post-launch phase, XO3D is committed to providing unwavering support. Our goal is not just to aid in product launch excellence but to ensure sustained success.
Your vision is our mission. XO3D places immense emphasis on understanding our clients’ needs, aspirations, and dreams. By doing so, we ensure that every launch resonates deeply with the intended audience.
Conclusion: Striving for True Product Launch Excellence
Product launch excellence isn’t a destination; it’s a journey. By understanding and avoiding these six mistakes and choosing the right partners, such as XO3D, you can enhance your launch strategies. The road to a successful product unveiling is paved with learning, adaptation, and, of course, passion.
Remember, each launch, whether a sweeping success or not, provides invaluable lessons. Embrace them, learn from them, and keep pushing towards true product launch excellence.