product launch strategy

Consumers’ needs and wants are constantly evolving. As such, a product that was once a hit can easily lose its luster if it fails to keep pace with shopper preferences. For example, BlackBerry once controlled a whopping 50% of the smartphone market in the U.S. But the company didn’t innovate quickly enough to keep up with consumer preferences, which ultimately led to its demise.

On the other hand, Apple has remained hugely successful for the past few decades. A big reason for that? The company’s commitment to continuous innovation.

Innovation can take many different forms. Sometimes, it involves making small, but impactful changes to existing products and experiences. But in other cases, innovation involves developing entirely new products and services.

Customer Feedback is a Critical Element of a Successful Product Launch

But developing a new product doesn’t guarantee its success. In fact, according to former Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen, more than 30,000 consumer products are launched each year. But nearly all of them (95%) fail. That can seem pretty disheartening.

Of course, there are a number of factors that determine whether a new product will succeed or fail. And unfortunately, there’s no single action you can take to guarantee your new product will be well loved by shoppers.

However, by incorporating and leveraging customer feedback throughout your product launch, you’re much better positioned for success. 

There are a number of channels businesses can use to get feedback from customers. But product reviews are an especially important source, as they provide feedback that’s specific and actionable.

In our last blog, we discussed how the data from reviews can be used to improve existing products. In this post, we’ll zero in even further to discuss how brands can leverage reviews throughout a product launch to ensure it’s successful.

Prior to Launch: Identify New Opportunities and Fine Tune Products

A great product launch starts with a great idea. Analyzing product reviews can be a key way to spark those winning ideas.

For example, let’s say you’re a CPG brand that sells children’s toothbrushes. You analyze the reviews for the model pictured below and find that while many parents like the toothbrush, they find it difficult to get their children to brush for the full two minutes. Your product development team sees this as an opportunity to develop a toothbrush that plays a favorite children’s song for two minutes, then flashes lights when brushing time is over.

But it can be challenging to unearth insights from reviews that could lead to your next big product idea. This is especially true if you sell your products (and collect reviews) through a number of different channels. But if you’re a Reputation Studio customer, it’s a whole lot easier. Our platform allows you to easy measure customer sentiment and identify trends in your product reviews — regardless of where those reviews were written.

You’ve come up with a great idea for a new product. And you’ve developed the first version of it. Now, it’s time to leverage reviews to refine the product before it hits store (or digital) shelves.

But how can you get reviews for products you haven’t even launched? Consider doing a soft launch or product sampling program. For example, if you’re a CPG brand launching a new cereal like the one pictured below, you could send samples to members of your loyalty program — and then ask them to share their feedback by submitting product reviews.

You can then analyze the reviews to identify ways to make the cereal even better before the full launch. Perhaps you dig in and notice that a lot of shoppers write reviews similar to this one — mentioning that the honey flavor is too subtle and the texture is too hard.

Based on this feedback, your product development team makes some tweaks to improve the flavor and texture. And, thanks to those initial reviews, you’re able to launch a product that better aligns with customer preferences.

During Launch: Build Shopper Confidence and Increase Conversion

Today’s shoppers depend on reviews to make informed purchase decisions. And research from Northwestern University found that reviews are especially important when a consumer is shopping for a product they’ve never purchased before.

There’s risk involved with buying an unknown product; reviews can give shoppers the confidence they need to take that risk — and convert. In fact, a PowerReviews study found that 72% of online grocery shoppers indicate they’d be more willing to purchase a grocery product they’ve never purchased before — if there are reviews for that product. That’s likely the case for other product categories too.

When you officially launch your new product, be sure to display the reviews you collected during your sampling program or product launch. This content will help give shoppers the confidence they need to purchase the new product, which, of course, will increase your sales.

Make it easy for shoppers to find reviews, regardless of the device they use to shop. And enable these shoppers to find the reviews that are most relevant to them.

For example, let’s say a parent is considering purchasing this “Super Sorting Pie” toy for their four-year-old for Christmas. Right at the top, they can easily see that the product has 25 reviews and an average star rating of 4.9. Sounds promising.

The parent scrolls down a bit further to find reviews that are most relevant to them. For example, they can sort by star rating, filter to only see content written by those shoppers who identified themselves as parents and search for reviews that include specific keywords.

Once they find this relevant content, the parent confidently adds the toy to their shopping basket.

Post Launch: Make Product Improvements and Foster Customer Loyalty

There are a few key ways reviews can drive success for your new product, even after the official launch.

We’ve already explored the importance of reviews in driving conversion for your new product. But it’s important to remember that when it comes to reviews, recency matters. According to BrightLocal, 84% of consumers feel that reviews older than three months aren’t relevant.

So be sure you’re generating a steady stream of fresh reviews for your new product. The best way to do that is to send a follow up email (similar to the one below) or SMS message (or both!), requesting reviews from those who recently purchased the product.

You can also use reviews to identify ways to fix problems or add impactful enhancements to your new product. For example, let’s say you launch a new eyeliner product. When you analyze the reviews, you determine most shoppers like the color and texture. But many mention that the product easily breaks, which understandably causes disappointment for shoppers. This is an opportunity to work with the manufacturer to improve the durability of the product.

Finally, reviews give you an opportunity to connect with your shoppers post-launch.

When you respond to a negative review, you have the opportunity to turn a bad situation around and show the customer (and future shoppers) that you’re committed to them.

And when you respond to positive reviews, you’re letting your shoppers know you value their business and their feedback. 

Responding to reviews (both positive and negative) is a powerful way to boost loyalty — and drive repeat purchases. After all, data from Motista tells us that shoppers who feel connected to a brand spend up to two times more than average.

Leverage Reviews to Drive a Successful Product Launch

There are many factors that determine whether a product will succeed or fail. But one thing is certain: it’s critical to make customer feedback a key component of your product launch.

Product reviews are a rich, often untapped source of actionable feedback. And by leveraging reviews throughout your product launch, you’re well on your way to success.