NEW PRODUCT LAUNCH REPORT

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1 SCHNEIDER/BOSTON UNIVERSITY NEW PRODUCT LAUNCH REPORT Executive Summary A first-of-its-kind, joint academic research study designed to examine how marketers launch new products and to identify launch success factors. Schneider & Associates, 2001

2 INTRODUCTION The new product launch phase is a critical part of the total new product development process. This is especially true in the consumer packaged goods arena, where nearly 26,000 new products were introduced in This compares to just over 12,000 new product introductions in With this dramatic escalation in the number of new products competing for consumer attention, the quality of launch programs greatly impacts the success of product introductions. Done well, a launch helps a new product rapidly establish itself among its target users, gain market share and enhance the company's brand position. Done poorly, a launch can negate all the time, money and human capital that went into developing the new product if it fails to achieve commercial success. Marketing experts estimate that two-thirds of all new products fail within two years. 3 Many factors contribute to this high failure rate, including products that do not match customer needs or experience unforeseen competitive countermoves. 4 In addition, each year it becomes more difficult to break through the noise generated by the thousands of existing products and line extensions. Sometimes, even well-conceived, innovative products meet with failure in the marketplace. Companies can end up pulling the plug on a perfectly good product because the launch strategy and execution failed to score high marks on the complex matrix of marketing factors that spell launch success. In this study, products had only six months to prove themselves in the marketplace. Considering the amount of time and resources spent on new product development and the short purchase cycles of many products, new products have a surprisingly small window of opportunity in which their fates are sealed. Despite the launch phase's critical nature, very little formal study has been done on the ingredients that comprise a successful launch. To provide much needed learning in this area for CEOs, marketing executives, and new product/brand managers of consumer product companies, Schneider & Associates, a Boston-based public relations firm with over 20 years of experience in product launches, commissioned this extensive investigation. The overall objectives of this two-phased study, the Schneider/Boston University New Product Launch Report, which is believed to be the first-of-its-kind ever undertaken, were to: Examine how managers carry out launches Identify launch success factors -- those strategies, tactics, and processes likely to improve the launch process Provide new information to help product managers increase their launch success rate The qualitative portion of the study included interviews with twelve 5 carefully chosen "launch experts" from companies such as Brita Inc., a division of The Clorox Company; Royal Appliance and Unilever. The products launched by these executives each received more than two new product awards. Our goal in talking with the experts was to understand the activities that comprised the launch process, the tools they applied, and the conventional or unconventional wisdom and rules of thumb that guided their launch activities. We analyzed the transcribed interview data, identified salient issues, developed preliminary hypotheses from these themes, and integrated the findings as inputs to the next phase of the study -- the survey design. The quantitative research performed for this study looked at large enterprises with annual revenues ranging from $10 million to $10 billion. The Schneider/Boston University New Product Launch Report presents highlights and key findings from the quantitative study along with relevant illustrative quotes from the 12 one-on-one interviews with launch experts. The report gives a broad picture of the art of the launch as currently practiced by major consumer product companies. 1. "Build a Better Mousetrap" 1999 New Product Innovations of the Year by Marketing Intelligence Service, Ltd., Naples, NY, December 23, Ibid. 3. Robert McMath, President, New Products Showcase and Learning Center, Ithaca, NY. 4. Journal of Marketing article "Retaliatory Behavior to New Product Entry" by Sabine Kuester, Christian Homburg and Thomas S. Robertson, Vol. 63 No. 4, October Out of the 12 executives interviewed, only three remain at their respective companies. We have attributed quotes only to those individuals who have given us permission to do so. All other quotes are attributed using the interviewee s title and type of company since we were unable to obtain permission to use their name. 1

3 METHODOLOGY Working closely with Michael Elasmar, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Boston University Communications Research Center, we have compiled what we hope will be the first roadmap that provides a solid path on which marketing executives can travel to reach their product launch goals. The quantitative research done for this study involved an extensive and highly structured survey among consumer product executives with new product experience. A total of 91 completed interviews were obtained, 63 conducted by mail and 28 via the Internet. While reaching and obtaining research cooperation from executive-level audiences is extremely difficult, responses from study participants were found to be very open, honest, thorough, and insightful. The project was a joint academic and research practitioner effort conducted by Prescott & Associates, a strategic marketing and research firm based in Pittsburgh, in conjunction with the Communication Research Center at Boston University. Susan Fournier, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Business Administration/Marketing at Harvard Business School, was a consultant to the study. THE SAMPLE The sample for this research represents a broad array of consumer product companies from industries heavily engaged in new product activities. The Food & Beverage industry is most widely represented at 61% of the total sample, followed by Sporting Goods (16%) and Apparel & Shoes (13%) (See Appendix A for detailed list). Organizations that were contacted for this study are generally very large enterprises, with average annual revenues of $2.6 billion. Additionally, the companies who responded are actively involved in launching new products. On average, one-fifth (21%) of organizational revenues over the past three years were generated from new products. Food & Beverage 61% Sporting Goods 16% Health & Beauty Other 6% Consumer Packaged Goods 4% Apparel & Shoes 13% Study participants are seasoned marketing professionals with significant experience in new product activities and launch management. The study's sample is largely comprised of senior level executives: 51% hold CEO, Senior VP, or Marketing VP positions; 25% are Marketing Directors; and 24% are Marketing, Brand or Product Managers. The typical study participant has managed new products for eight years and has been personally responsible for introducing an average of seven new products and eleven line extensions from planning through market launch. All statistical significance testing reported in this document has been performed at the 95% level of confidence, with significantly higher differences denoted by an asterisk (*) 6. For clarity, corresponding questions from the survey are listed below the charts and tables. 6. The data figures reported in this document were aggregated by Prescott & Associates, a strategic marketing and research firm based in Pittsburgh, PA. 2

4 OVERVIEW OF NEW PRODUCT LAUNCHES STUDIED To closely examine the new product development/launch process, we asked study participants detailed information about their most recent new product introduction. It was our intention that in soliciting information on the most recent launch, we would obtain a sample of recent launch successes as well as failures, thus allowing an analysis of the factors driving performance in the marketplace. The new product cases reported on for this study cover a host of product categories and include such products as ready-to-eat breakfast cereal, refrigerated apple juice, athletic footwear, bicycles, shampoo and wrinkle-free men's pants. Over 80% of the launches detailed in this report occurred in 1998, 1999, or New product cases were segmented into two groups based on in-market performance - highly successful and less successful launches. The segmentation derived from a self-reported measure of market performance. Respondents were asked to evaluate the success of their most recent new product introduction on a 10-point scale where 10 = 'an overwhelming success' and 1 = 'a dismal failure'. Roughly half (58%) of the executives rated their product as being a top-three box success (that is, a rating of 8, 9 or 10). Based on the total distribution of cases along this 10-point scale, these introductions were classified as 'highly successful' and those with a rating of 7 or lower were defined as 'less successful' (42%). The mean response to this question was This segmentation helped us to identify key drivers and inhibitors that led to effective new product introductions and successful launch processes, and thus proved to be extremely valuable in delineating significant differences between more and less successful product introductions. The segmentation approach was validated by several other performance measures. For example, these two groups differed significantly in terms of performance relative to goal, a standard by which many product introductions are judged. Almost three-quarters (71%) of the product cases that have been defined as 'highly successful' outperformed the goals set for the introduction, compared to just 6% of the 'less successful' products. In contrast, two-thirds (67%) of the managers with less successful products reported their product had performed below goals. While complaints are often heard around the corporate water cooler about the difficulty in meeting goals, most of the executives surveyed (72%) felt that the goals set for their particular new product introduction were realistic. However, it is not surprising that those with less successful products were significantly more likely to believe the goals were set too high (39% vs. 12% of those with highly successful products). In terms of the characteristics of the launches surveyed, some interesting facts include: Over half (55%) of the new product cases were classified by the executives as 'entirely new products to the organization.' 100% 80% 60% 40% 20% 0% 58% Highly Successful 42% Less Successful Highly Successful Less Successful The vast majority of new product cases (87%) relied on either existing technology or a minor technological innovation, while only 14% relied on a major technological breakthrough. National roll-outs were the most common launch strategy (48%), followed by regional introductions (24%) and nationally phased roll-outs (19%). Not surprisingly, budgets for national introductions ($5 million) and for national phased roll-outs ($3.9 million) were significantly higher than for regional introductions ($2 million). Q. In your opinion, how has this product fared in the market? 3

5 FINDINGS Below we report the findings from our research. Where applicable, quotes from the qualitative phase of our research are included to embellish and illustrate key themes. Results are presented in the form of fourteen success factors that are based on characteristics of highly successful launches: Conduct launch with a different mind set, a different philosophy. Treat launch as a distinct and separate phase. Appreciate the sub-processes within the launch phase, and don't cut them short. Respect and appreciate that launch timing is everything. Get planning priorities straight. Have a plan, but don't set it in stone. Expect delays and learn to live with them. Recognize that teams work. Don't put the CEO in charge of launch. Focus on the consumer to improve success. Gaining shelf presence is key. Spend money on products that are new. Fight for bigger launch budgets. Consider public relations: an overlooked weapon in the launch arsenal. 4

6 LAUNCH: A DIFFERENT MIND SET, A DIFFERENT PHILOSOPHY Our research suggests that launch is a rather unique business/marketing process, one that requires a particular attitude and philosophy in its enactment and, accordingly, a different set of skills among managers. To better understand the characteristics of launch processes, we asked study participants to indicate how well a series of characteristics described the launch activities of their most recent product introduction. On an emotional level, the experience tends to be a positive, invigorating one. When we asked which phrases were extremely descriptive of their most recent product launch, over 40% of the study participants described the experience as exciting, creative, and rewarding. They were also likely to describe the process as comprehensive, opportunistic, and proactive. Launch was also described by significant numbers as difficult, including many hurdles in the process (40%) and being characterized as a high-pressured experience (34%). "You can't underestimate the difficulty. Everything we did was more difficult than we thought it would be. To make a product launch easier in the future, you have to allow for mistakes -- little mistakes -- time delays, whatever else; nothing goes as planned. It's going to be harder than you think and that's something you've got to keep in mind. It might take longer, be more expensive, be more difficult." -- Charles Couric, President of Brita Inc., a division of The Clorox Company We found some interesting differences between highly successful product launches and less successful ones 7. Highly successful product launches are much more apt to be described as exciting, creative, rewarding and proactive experiences than are their less successful counterparts. The launch activities of highly successful products were also more apt to be characterized as evolutionary, systematic, and synergistic, while those of less successful products were more likely to be described as reactive, unpredictable, political, and ego-involving. LAUNCH CHARACTERISTICS* Total % Highly Successful Launches Less Successful Launches Exciting 50% 63% 38% Creative Rewarding Proactive Systematic Evolutionary Synergistic Ego-involving Reactive Political Unpredictable *Top responses to the question asking respondents to choose from descriptors that best characterize the product launch process. Q. Which of the following phrases describe the process of planning and executing the product launch extremely well? 7. The data was categorized into two groups, highly successful and less successful, based upon how the survey participants rated their product's performance in the market on a scale of one to ten with 1 = "Dismal Failure" and 10 = "Overwhelming Success." 5

7 TREAT LAUNCH AS A SEPARATE PHASE A key question concerning launch activities addressed by this research concerns the extent to which organizations consider launch a separate and distinct phase within the overall new product introduction process, and if so, where that phase fits within the larger process. The study found that explicitly treating launch as a separate phase leads to greater success. Conclusions can also be drawn from the study that support the initiation of launch activities early on in the new product development phase, and the extension of launch activities further into the new product introduction process. Doing so allows more time for analysis, planning, and assessment, and importantly, permits modifications that can impact marketplace success. Interestingly, just 44% of the executives reported that their organizations have what is considered a distinct product launch phase. For the majority, launch was merely the culmination of the product development. Others, however, saw launch as something separate and distinct from new product development. Highly successful products, in fact, were much more likely to have been introduced by organizations that viewed launch as a separate phase: 51% compared to just 32% of the organizations introducing a less successful product. To determine the typical new product development cycle of the companies who participated in the study, we posed questions pertaining to the duration of the new product development process. Based on the responses, the total product development process (including concept generation, prototype development, and development of final product) generally begins 3 or more years before shipment and can continue up to just 2-3 months before launch. Launch Phase 44% The launch phase can perhaps be best understood through its placement within the overall process of new product development. The new product development process itself is comprised of 4 sub-processes: 1. Initial concept generation usually begins at least 1 or 2 years prior to shipment. Interestingly, concept development for less successful products begins far earlier than for highly successful products (3 years versus 1-2 years). This may suggest a loss of internal momentum during the process, or is reflective of a problem-plagued development process. 2. Final product development is usually completed 2 or 3 months prior to shipment and is generally concurrent with the timing of a final "go/no go" decision on the product. 3. Concept and product testing starts within 1 or 2 years after initiation of the product development phase, lasting almost right up to shipment, and generally runs hand-in-hand with the development of a prototype and a final product. 4. The launch phase generally occurs 1 or 2 years prior to shipment of the final product. The initiation of this timing of this phase is best defined in the following respondent's words: "As far as the terminology goes, there was a distinct phase called launch. It was when the marketing elements came together. Everything from national communications to point-of-purchase materials, to even just the relationship building from a buyer to seller perspective. It was all part and parcel of launch. Not only do you have to get retailers to understand what the benefit is from a consumer point of view, they also need to know how it is going to make them money and why is it relevant for their consumer base. That's all part and parcel of having an adequate and holistic launch. And that's what we call launch. -- Director of Marketing at a major consumer durables company No Launch Phase 56% Q. Within your organization is there a product launch phase which is distinguished from the "new product development" phase? 6

8 TREAT LAUNCH AS A SEPARATE PHASE So, what marks the launch phase? What triggers its initiation? Signals for the beginning of the launch phase varied a great deal across organizations. In over a third of the cases (38%), a product-related milestone (e.g., product concept, prototype, or actual product) signaled the beginning of launch. "Launch begins once we have an operating prototype that we built in engineering. Once we decide it's a product, we go with it. That's when we start working on the launch plan because typically we are about months away from introduction. -- Jim Holcomb, VP, Marketing and Strategic Planning, Royal Appliance, Dirt Devil launch Internal approvals, essentially "go/no go" decisions, signal the start of the launch period for 26%. Other companies (25%) use a later point in time, such as when they begin selling the product in the market. The end of the launch phase is likely to be: Some predetermined period after being in-market (28%) A date specified around the shipping period (26%) A pre-market milestone such as commercialization or packaging completion (22%) Interestingly, differences exist between highly successful and less successful launches in terms of process markers. The companies with highly successful products were more likely to view the end of the launch phase when the product is on the shelves (35%), as opposed to the companies with less successful products (25%). Organizations with highly successful products were also nearly twice as likely to consider a shipping milestone to mark the end of launch (31% vs. 16% for companies with less successful products). In contrast, the companies with less successful products were twice as likely as those with highly successful products to consider a pre-market milestone (i.e., the ship date or the in-store date) as the end of launch (32% vs. 16%). Overall, it appears that extending launch activities past a pre-market milestone improves success. 7

9 8 FIGURE 1

10 APPRECIATE THE SUB-PROCESSES WITHIN THE LAUNCH PHASE, AND DON'T CUT THEM SHORT The research clearly suggests that launch is a multi-staged process to be managed 8 (See Figure 1 at left). Successful launches were in fact much more likely to have been managed through a series of definitive stages than were less successful products (62% to 35%). Similar to the Stage Gate Model 9 used to specify the subprocesses in the new product development cycle, our findings indicate the following distinct and important phases of the launch process (See Appendices B and C for revised Stage Gate Model and Schneider Launch Model). Phase 1 - Launch Plan Development: While this phase begins one or two years prior to shipment of the final product, the finalization of a budget for launch may not occur until a year later (at the month period), thus rendering the plan stage of launch as the most lengthy sub-component of the process. Phase 2 - PR/Communications Planning: The advertising agency is brought in quite early in the process, sometimes as far back as three or more years prior to shipment (during the initial concept generation phase). The timing is indicative of the on-going strategic relationships many ad agencies form with their clients. Overall, PR firm selection and PR planning typically begins within a year of final product shipping, lasting beyond shipment date. "We briefed the ad agency very, very early on. We met with them at the very beginning -- at Gate Zero. We had a briefing with them at every gate. -- General Manager, consumer durables company Phase 3 - Campaign/Promotions Planning: Promotions planning generally takes place months before shipment. While advertising agencies are brought on board very early in the process during the concept development phase, promotions firms are generally not included until a more final product has been developed. Phase 4 - Distribution Planning/Channel Management: Distribution and channel management planning begins approximately one year prior to final shipment and continues until the product is shipped. Phase 5 - PR/Communications/Promotions Execution: The execution of advertising and promotions activities tends to parallel each other in time, running from 2-3 months before shipment until 4-6 months after. Execution of PR activities typically begins within 6 months of shipment and lasts until as late as 6 months after the product rollout (generally beginning before advertising and promotions launch). Phase 6 - Evaluation and Tracking: This phase concerns the period of close evaluation prior to making major decisions about the product's future. Evaluation research occurs 4-6 months before shipment and often lasts until 1 to 2 years after launch campaigns. In general, launch is described as 'a closely evaluated process' (39%). Phase 7 - Critical Evaluation Period: On average, the critical period for judging product viability is 6 months, surprisingly short considering the purchase cycles of many products. 8. A model of the process timeline was constructed based on the qualitative phase of this research. This model was then tested by having study participants complete a detailed timeline of the events and activities associated with the development and launch of their most recent product introduction. Respondents indicated when 27 individual events/activities were initiated, completed or occurred (for one time events) in relation to the product shipment date. 9. Cooper, R.G. and E. J. Kleinschmidt (1986), "An Investigation into the New Product Process: Steps, Deficiencies, and Impact," Journal of Product and Innovation Management, 3 (June),

11 APPRECIATE THE SUB-PROCESSES WITHIN THE LAUNCH PHASE, AND DON'T CUT THEM SHORT In general, the time horizon for launch tends to be longer for more successful products. More successful and less successful launches differed significantly with respect to the timing of the sub-phases, in fact: All major events considered to signal the beginning of the launch phase begin earlier for highly successful products. Less successful products tend to begin their launch planning far later than their business planning and budgeting, pointing to a strong focus on internal/financial matters at the expense of focusing on executional concerns. In general, highly successful products tend to engage involvement with external constituencies far earlier than less successful ones. They typically begin the planning and execution of external processes (advertis ing, PR, promotions) well before final product approval is received. Less successful products tend to begin the PR process somewhat later at 7-9 months prior to ship date vs months for highly successful products. Highly successful products tend to break their advertising campaign somewhat later than less successful ones, generally waiting until 2 to 3 months prior to shipment. This strategy allows for adequate distribution prior to generating awareness and trial. Highly successful products are more likely to begin distribution planning and channel management activities far earlier (approximately one year prior to final shipment) than their less successful counterparts (7-9 months before shipment). Highly successful products begin PR activities several months prior to advertising launch - potentially building anticipation or creating a buzz at a grass roots level prior to more formal mass media campaigns. This point supports the need to engage public relations early on in the process. The critical evaluation period for less successful products tends to begin earlier and last longer (from shipment until months after) than for highly successful products (2-3 months after shipment until 7-9 months). Less successful products thus had a longer assessment period before decisions were made, with almost two-thirds (60%) being evaluated for more than 6 months after introduction, compared to only 24% of the highly successful products. This longer period was likely a function of organizations attempting to diagnose reasons for lower-than-expected success, or in line with research on sunk cost investments, 10 simply reflects a reluctance among managers to give up on a new product and to spend good money after bad Staw, B. M. (1976). "Knee-Deep in the Big Muddy: A Study of Escalating Commitment to a Chosen Course of Action." Organizational Behavior and Human Resources 16:

12 LAUNCH TIMING IS EVERYTHING Two factors, seasonality/cyclical considerations (73%) and retailer demands (59%), were identified as having tremendous or great impact on the timing of the launch date within consumer product organizations. Other key considerations were sales meetings/sales force needs (48%) and competitive product introductions (43%). It is interesting to note that, in general, external demands seemed more likely to drive launch timing than internal, strategic concerns. Importantly, study findings indicate that organizations with highly successful product introductions typically place greater emphasis on internal factors to determine launch timing. Sales meetings/sales force needs (51% vs. 40% of less successful), corporate financial reporting (35% vs. 19% of less successful) and cycles of technological innovation (40% vs. 27% of less successful) are more likely to drive launches in successful cases than in non-successful cases. This suggests that companies which innovate on a routine basis and have internal factors in place to drive innovation cycles have greater success with new product launches than companies that don't follow regular product launch cycles. FACTORS IMPACTING LAUNCH TIMING Seasonality/Cyclical 73% Retailer Demands Sales Force Needs Competition Technology Innovation 34% 43% 48% 59% Trade Events/Shows Financial Reporting Government Regulations 9% 31% 30% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Q. To what extent do each of the following factors influence the timing of product introductions in your company/division? 11

13 GET PLANNING PRIORITIES STRAIGHT An organization's strategic priorities can undoubtedly impact the success of new product introductions. To this end, we asked study participants about the importance of multiple factors in the planning of their most recent product introduction. In essence, where did they focus their attention and what did they consider critical to success? These questions revealed interesting and significant differences in planning priorities between highly successful and less successful product launches. Our findings suggest that there are so many elements to consider in launch planning that, oftentimes, the basics can be overlooked. The four P's of marketing -- product, price, promotion and place/distribution -- are shown to be critical to the success rates of products in the market. In addition, a focus on building the brand is important. In the planning stage, managers of highly successful products placed greater emphasis on brand-building efforts: branding/brand strategy (94% vs. 75% high importance), product positioning (92% vs. 86% high importance), packaging (82% vs. 60% high importance), and consumer advertising (60% vs. 53% high importance). More attention was paid during planning to public relations (33% vs. 14%) and media coverage (32% vs. 14%) by those with highly successful products than by those with less successful products. We begin thinking, 'Are we going to support it with advertising?' 'What kind of point of sale materials will it need?' 'What should we say on the carton, the box?' 'How are we going to price it?' All that is needed to get a product ready to launch." -- Jim Holcomb, VP, Marketing and Strategic Planning, Royal Appliance, Dirt Devil launch PLANNING PRIORITIES IN PRODUCT INTRODUCTION* Branding Quality Positioning Pricing Distribution Packaging Cons Adv Cons Prom 44% Trade Prom PR Trade Adv Media Coverage 14% 14% 33% 32% 33% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% *Figures reported are based on highest number of responses indicating Extremely Critical and Very Important 34% 39% Highly Successful 43% 53% 51% 60% 60% Less Successful 75% 94% 86% 92% 84% 84% 84% 92% 82% 94% 89% Q. How critical was each of these considered when planning this product introduction? 12

14 HAVE A PLAN, BUT DON'T SET IT IN STONE A slight majority of the organizations studied (59%) created detailed launch plans. Companies launching a completely new product (55%) were more likely to have crafted a detailed launch plan than those launching category (30%) or line extensions (6%). In addition, product introductions in which a PR firm is used were significantly more likely to have a physical launch document than products introduced without a PR firm (78% vs. 45%). Importantly, those with highly successful products were far more apt to have penned a plan than less successful ones (72% vs. 46%). The contents of launch plans invariably include pricing (96%), distribution (93%), positioning (91%), package design (87%), financials (85%), advertising (82%) and sales (80%). Public relations was much less likely to be considered a staple plan element (63%). Sensibly, companies using a PR firm were more likely to have included public relations in the original plan than those who did not (74% vs. 48%). Only 17% articulated an Internet strategy in their plan, indicating the fact that consumer product companies were slow to adopt the Internet as a marketing tool. Surprisingly, only 7% of the companies included a crisis plan as part of their launch plan, an especially low number considering that 61% of the companies surveyed were in the food and beverage categories. Interestingly, there were no differences between highly and less successful products in the types of strategies and tactics included in the plan. This suggests that it is not so much what is covered in the plan but the quality and execution of plan elements that dictate success. Needless to say, not all launches go according to the best-laid plans; events and/or milestones exist that can change the nature or course of the launch. When study participants described such milestones, negative factors were cited more often than positive ones (42% vs. 23%). Product delays, competitive announcements and regulatory problems were among the negative triggers most frequently mentioned. Perhaps expectedly, executives with highly successful products were more likely to mention positive milestones than those with less successful products (30% vs. 10%). Outstanding retailer response, reaching 100% distribution and high consumer demand were typical positive milestones that triggered changes in plans. These findings encourage flexible attitudes previously mentioned in managing the launch process. "Have a process, but don't be a slave to the process. In other words, be careful not to get caught. You know, a lot of companies, big companies, have a product development life cycle and think that with launch, there's a cookie cutter way to do it. The one thing I'd say is that every situation is different. It's not all the same, and your circumstances are different. Business environments are different. So have a process and stick to it where it makes sense, but also do what makes sense. It sounds really simple when you think about it, but it's tough to be flexible." -- VP of Marketing, consumer technology company "Launch plans, as you know, are not fixed instruments. They evolve over time, particularly in a category that's as dynamic as this. The thing is, technology is changing, product specs change. You ve got to have a plan and be flexible about it." -- Senior Marketing Manager, consumer durables company Interestingly, a tendency to stick to plan was more evident in successful launches than in unsuccessful counterparts. Approximately two-thirds (65%) of the launches for the highly successful products went extremely or very close to plan compared to 47% of the less successful ones. This might reflect the previously mentioned fact that highly successful launches had longer planning cycles and/or created better plans. 13

15 DELAYS ARE INEVITABLE; LEARN TO LIVE WITH THEM A company's tendency toward structure appears to carry over into the launch phase of the new product development process. However, while many organizations have standard protocols that guide product introduction timing, actual launch dates are rarely set in stone. Delays are inevitable; 70% of the reported cases had at least one change in launch timing. Interestingly, sticking to the original launch schedule does not appear to be a driving success factor. There were no differences between highly successful and less successful products on this measure. While timing changes are inevitable and do not impact launch success, respondents communicated the importance of being flexible when confronting these delays. While there were no differences between highly successful and less successful companies in the number of times they changed their launch timing, there was a difference in the managers' attitude toward change. Findings suggest that companies that were more flexible about launch timing achieved the best results. About half (48%) of highly successful companies said it was important to be flexible about launch timing, while only 26% of the less successful said timing should be flexible. Thus, while a specified and temporally bounded launch phase is articulated, a desire for flexibility around these dates and openness to change and evolution as the process advances is recommended from successful launch tales. NUMBER OF CHANGES IN LAUNCH DATE None 30% Three or More 20% One or Two 50% Q: How many times, if ever, did the launch timing change? 14

16 TEAMS WORK Characteristics most commonly seen as descriptive of launch activities are driven by a project champion (64%) and significant senior management involvement (63%). Team formation and composition (both internal and external) emerged as critical to launch success. The key learning here is that teams are good, big teams are better, and multidisciplinary teams work best. Teams are brought in early in the process -- much in advance even of the formal go/no go decision. The assembly of the project team closely parallels the development of the business plan. "Get them in up front so that they are involved in the planning process." -- General Manager, consumer durables company Teams were established in 60% of the new product launches studied. On average, these teams included 5 or 6 core members. An analysis of team composition revealed several interesting findings: The typical team includes at least one Marketing VP/Marketing Manager/Brand Manager (90% of cases). If a Marketing VP/Marketing Manager/Brand Manager is not on the team, the team is most apt to be managed by the CEO and includes just 1 or 2 other people. One or more people from Operations/Engineering, Manufacturing, or Product Development/R&D are also usually present (81%). Communications and Information Technology are only included as core members on very large teams (10+ members). NUMBER OF MEMBERS OF CORE TEAM* 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 38% 38% 29% 30% 24% 22% 10% 10% 1 to 3 4 or 5 6 or 7 8 or more Highly Successful Less Successful *Figures reported here are comparative totals from responses to the survey question (Q. 33a) about team compositions and level of involvement. 15

17 TEAMS WORK External agencies, such as PR and advertising, were not typically part of the core launch teams of those companies surveyed. Just 25% of the executives surveyed reported including external suppliers or support groups as members of their core teams. Three-quarters (76%) however, used external groups as secondary team members. Advertising agencies had the greatest team presence overall; 69% of the teams included the advertising agency as either a core or secondary member. A sizeable minority also included package design firms (40%), PR firms (33%), and promotions firms (24%) on their core secondary teams. The chart below illustrates the typical make-up of the core and secondary launch teams: CORE AND SECONDARY LAUNCH TEAM COMPOSITIONS CORE TEAM Product Development/R&D Operations/Engineering Marketing Manager Manufacturing Brand/Product Manager SECONDARY INTERNAL TEAM Senior Management Sales VP/Manager Marketing Research Finance SECONDARY EXTERNAL TEAM Advertising Agency PR Agency Promotions Firm These results stand in stark contrast to the qualitative research phase, where all companies surveyed reported external agency members on their core launch teams. Since all 10 companies involved in the qualitative research were award-winning launch experts, there may be a lesson to be learned about the importance of placing advertising, public relations and promotions agencies on the core team. Also, with the Internet becoming a major force in channel distribution, Web developers and other Internet partners should be included on the core team as well (See Appendix D for proposed launch team composition chart). "I think of our advertising and PR agencies as real partners. And we bring them in the launch planning and launch meetings - absolutely. They're a part of the team." -- Vice President of Marketing, major consumer durables company Team dynamics distinguished more successful launches from less successful ones. Teams were formed for 69% of the highly successful products and just 54% of the less successful ones. Highly successful products were also managed by larger teams; 60% had more than 5 team members compared to only 34% of the less successful products. 16

18 DON'T PUT THE CEO IN CHARGE OF LAUNCH The person in charge of launch plays a critical role in the success of a new product. Overall, Marketing VPs and Marketing Directors were most likely to have primary responsibility for the product introduction (37%). About one-quarter (24%) of the introductions were managed by Brand, Product, or New Product Managers. Marketing Managers (14%) and other senior management representatives (13%) made up the remainder of the cases. There are, however, a number of important differences between highly successful and less successful launches in terms of the individuals with primary responsibility for product introduction: Highly successful launches were far more apt to have been managed by Brand or Product Managers than less successful ones (36% vs. 6%). Less successful launches were also more apt to be under the direct responsibility of senior management (CEOs/Presidents) compared to more successful products. Of the less successful efforts, 23% were managed by CEOs/Presidents, compared to 16% for highly successful products. Of the less successful launches, 66% were managed by senior marketing personnel (Marketing VP, Marketing Director, or Marketing Manager) compared to 43% for highly successful products. These findings suggest that while the involvement of senior management (including CEOs or Presidents) is critical to new product success (61% of highly successful launches involved senior management), such high level managers should cede a direct management role. Individuals solely dedicated to the launch effort, (Brand or Product Managers), are best suited to be primarily responsible for the launch process, rather than senior personnel whose multiple and competing duties can impair focus and tactical expertise. PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITY FOR PRODUCT INTRODUCTION 70% 66% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 43% 36% 6% 16% 23% 8% 6% 0% Marketing VP/Dir/Mgr Brand/Product/ New Product Mgr Sr Mgmt/ CEO/Pres Other Highly Successful Less Successful Q: Which one of the following individuals had primary responsibility for this product introduction (either as a team leader or as the sole individual responsible)? 17

19 DON'T PUT THE CEO IN CHARGE OF LAUNCH To clarify the conclusions made about the performance of Brand/Product Managers vs. CEOs and other senior marketing executives, we compared the success rates within each group and developed the following charts to better illustrate the key differences: Highly Successful 84% BRAND/PRODUCT MANAGERS Less Successful 16% CEOs/PRESIDENTS/SR. MANAGEMENT MARKETING VP/DIRECTOR/MANAGER Highly Successful 30% Highly Successful 35% Less Successful 70% Less Successful 65% As the charts illustrate, when brand/product managers were in charge of launch, the launches were highly successful 84% of the time. However, when CEOs or Marketing VPs managed the launch, they were less successful 65-70% of the time. 18

20 CONSUMER-FOCUSED SPENDING SPELLS SUCCESS Our research suggests that when it comes to launch budgets, it's not just how much money you have, but how you spend it that ensures product success. An important finding emerging from this research is that adopting a "push" strategy for launch -- i.e., one that says "put it on the shelf and they will come" -- is far less effective than a "pull" strategy that drives consumers into stores. Strategies focused on trade initiatives were less successful than those geared primarily toward consumers. Our analysis of marketing budget allocations reveals four distinct strategies, some of which worked far better than others. 1. Consumer-Focused: Spent 78% of their marketing dollars on consumer-related activities. 2. Trade-Focused: Devoted 86% of their funds to trade-related support. 3. Consumer/Trade: Split their budget evenly between consumer (47%) and trade (42%). 4. Diverse: Spread marketing funds across a wide range of support activities, with no one area receiving more than 30% of the budget. MARKETING BUDGET ALLOCATIONS 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 35% 22% 18% 16% 14% 25% 28% 18% Highly Successful Less Successful 0% Consumer-Focused Consumer/Trade Trade-Focused Diverse Q: Please indicate how the marketing budget was allocated across each of the marketing support categories listed below. The Consumer/Trade and Consumer-Focused segments had the largest average marketing budgets ($10.8 and $3.9 million, respectively). Interestingly, the Diverse segment had a generally lower average budget ($1.6 million), suggesting that those employing this strategy were spreading less money across a wider range of support activities. Interestingly, highly successful products were more apt to belong to the Consumer-Focused segment (35%) than less successful ones (22%), while the less successful tended to fall within the Trade-Focused (25% vs. 14% for highly successful) or Diverse segments (28% vs. 18% for highly successful). Even though combined Consumer/Trade budgets exceeded straight consumer spending by almost 3 times, it appears that marketing dollars focused directly at the consumer are more effective than spending combined dollars on Consumer/Trade. Managers who put money into Consumer/Trade focused strategies were just as likely to succeed as they were to fail. Programs geared directly at the consumer enhanced the chance of launch success. Managers' perceptions of what delivered a bang-for-the-buck corroborate these findings. Activities with the greatest perceived return on investment are consumer-oriented: consumer advertising (51%), consumer promotions (44%), and merchandising (43%). 19

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