New product launches: Lessons for success

Products often fail before they ever find their way to market. Because our firm reviews more than 2,500 new health, beauty and wellness products, and sees approximately 13,000 packaging changes and line extensions annually, I’ve seen this firsthand.

I’ll point out several of the key pitfalls we have witnessed in our 30-plus year existence, and then offer a few encouraging words for those hoping to beat the odds. By the way, statistics consistently show that between 40% and 80% of new item introductions will simply not succeed. And for the sake of argument, I’m assuming that the product being introduced delivers on the promise proclaimed by its manufacturer. And yet they still don’t succeed.

Why do so few products ever see the light of day?

Most prevalent among the reasons is a lack of homework and unrealistic strategy. First, let’s look at shortcomings in homework. One that happens fairly often is suppliers introducing me-too items without doing the research to ensure there’s room for another solution. I’m not suggesting that all non-differentiated products cannot succeed; instead that the odds are against a new product without an iota of differentiation.

You also have to ask some tough questions. Will consumers truly be satisfied by your item? In other words, does it solve a real, identified need? Most commonly this is determined by pre-testing, market research and an honest assessment of the product’s attributes.

When it comes to strategy, be sure yours is sound, including claims, messaging, packaging, placement and retail price point. Shortsighted planning can result in lackluster performance. The product must resonate with shoppers, and all of the related communication has to capture their imagination.

Five simple steps to improve your odds:

1.    Objectively assess the market potential
2.    Zero in on the key product message and be consistent
3.    Create a pull strategy that drives consumer action
4.    Remain committed throughout the launch — do what you say you’ll do
5.    Continue to create excitement for your brand (re-imagination has become a necessity!)

Whether you are a retailer enhancing your store brand or a manufacturer producing the latest-greatest product, you’re in the midst of a brand formation. Brand formation is a systematic approach used by HRG to evaluate a brand’s unique differentiators, to develop messaging that clearly communicates the brand’s proposition and to create a unique personality for the brand that leaves a lasting impression.

Try to avoid the speed bumps I’ve identified and good luck.

Dave Wendland is VP and co-owner of Hamacher Resource Group, a retail healthcare consultancy located near Milwaukee, Wis. He directs business development, product innovation and marketing communications activities for the company and has been instrumental in positioning HRG among the industry’s foremost thought leaders. You may contact him at (414) 431-5301 or learn more at



- 8:03 AM
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