Market Structure
New Products
Launching Successful New Products

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The Myth of The Silver Bullet One of the great marketing myths is the idea of the category-killer new product, a kind of silver bullet, borne of blinding insight and launched with lightning speed, which catches competitors flat-footed and upends the category food chain, leaving the new product alone at the top. Like all myths, this one contains a kernel of truth, for even the casual observer can find instances of this type of success in a myriad of categories.
But myths tend to ignore or obscure inconvenient facts that tarnish the luster of a great and powerful story:
  • For every silver-bullet new product, there are at least 20 other new products which seemed to reflect the same kind of inspiration, and that were launched with the same haste, that ultimately ended up dying an ignominious and anonymous death, unknown except to a handful of insiders and competitors.
  • Most successful new products come not from the mythical wunderkind type of process, but from careful analysis, detailed planning, and stellar marketing execution. In short, they come from hard work rather than luck.
Back In The Real World Companies that are consistently successful in launching new products:
  • Develop and apply a rigorous and structured process designed to uncover unmet customer needs,
  • Identify specific targeted groups of potential customers,
  • Design products that deliver benefits to address the needs of targeted customers,
  • Develop simple and understandable ways of explaining product benefits to targeted potential customers,
  • Create coordinated, adequately funded marketing plans for product launches that are congruent with both the characteristics of the target and the benefits of the product, and
  • Execute marketing activities in support of the launch according to plan,
  • Track results not only in terms of sales and profit, but also in terms of customer adoption and marketing execution, so that necessary adjustments can be made to the plan as required by real-world circumstances.
This process is neither easy nor inexpensive to execute, especially on a consistent basis. But in new products, success means growth in sales, profits, and share, while failure means expense without payoff, and setbacks with trade partners and potential customers from which it can take years to recover.
Hershey Hits Sweet Spot Hershey Foods is an excellent example. A leading manufacturer of candy products, Hershey has developed a reputation for consistently introducing successful new products and line extensions. Over the last 12 years, this company has introduced more than a dozen major new products and scores of line extensions, without a single major failure.
In the process, Hershey has overtaken its chief rival, M&M/Mars, in terms of sales and market share, and built a reputation with the retail trade as a company that can be counted on to deliver new products that resonate with consumers. As a result, retailers are eager to stock new products from Hershey on their shelves, because they are confident that these products will be successful and provide a solid return.
The success of Hershey Foods in introducing new products year in and year out is built on a consumer-driven process similar to the one described above.
One Chance to Do It Right A pundit once wrote, "Success usually is the result of luck. But I find the harder I work, the more luck I have." Developing and launching great new brands is not the result of luck or lightning-bolt inspiration, and never comes from a ready-fire-aim type of process. Companies only get one chance to launch a new product successfully, so it is extremely important to take the time and make the investment necessary to get it right the first time.