Product launches: how to plan an effective communication strategy

Product launches: how to plan an effective communication strategy

Sarah Cantavalle Published on 5/13/2024

A product launch is the combination of communication and marketing activities a business carries out when bringing a new good or service to market. It is a long and complex process that starts with coming up with the initial concept for the product and ends, various essential stages later, with the product’s release and presentation to the public.

In this article we will explore how to develop a marketing plan for promoting a new product using various online and offline channels, in a way that will grab the interest and pique the curiosity of your target audience.

How to communicate the launch of a product

Whenever you release a product, you need to plan the messages you wish to convey carefully, select your communication channels meticulously and define effective marketing strategies focused on generating sales.

Defining the product identity 

The first step is to create a product identity that reflects your business’ value proposition, while at the same time making the product stand out from your competitors, highlighting its advantages and helping to lodge it in the public’s mind. To build a solid and recognisable product identity, you need to define a few key elements:

  • Product name: it must be unique, original and memorable.
  • Tagline: the slogan to use in your advertising campaigns.
  • Visual identity: colours, graphics, typefaces, packaging design and POP merchandising.

The various elements of the product identity must be consistent with one another and work together to communicate the product’s unique features.

Product storytelling

Here you need to ask yourself a couple of questions: how many messages, and which ones, do you want to associate with the product, and which tools (both analogue and digital) could you use to convey them? Choosing your text, music, video clips, graphics and materials carefully when designing your content, packaging and visual merchandising will help to communicate a clearly defined set of ideas, sensations and emotions to consumers.

Storytelling is a powerful persuasive tool that allows you to explain the reasons why customers should buy your product over another one. Its effectiveness stems from the way it establishes an emotional connection with your audience, based on shared ethical values.

Choosing your communication channels

You’ll need to consider the following factors when assessing which media to use:

  • Buyer personas: which touchpoints (analogue, digital and hybrid) are most commonly used by your target audience during their customer journey?
  • Product type: some products lend themselves to free samples in shops, while others are best bought directly online.
  • Distribution chain: if your business already has a well-established and wide-ranging network of distributors, you could also use their websites and outlets to promote the new product.
  • Budget: as a general rule, an advertising campaign aiming to achieve good coverage in a short space of time costs a lot of money. However, if your budget is tight, you can opt for cheaper marketing strategies, which take advantage of the power of UGC (user-generated content) and word of mouth.

Campaign planning

Once you have defined your product identity, storytelling and the communication channels you want to use, it’s time to come up with the campaign concept. A product launch plan is typically divided into two stages:

  1. Teaser campaign: released before the product, with the aim of generating curiosity and anticipation from the public and media attention (or even hype).
  2. Launch campaign: simultaneous with the release of the product, and directed towards incentivising purchasing and fuelling positive word of mouth.

Here are a few guidelines on how to plan an effective launch campaign.

Teaser campaign

During this stage it make sense to use your company website, social media, PR and email marketing to stimulate the interest and curiosity of both your target audience and journalists. Two commonly used tactics here are anticipation and mystery.

The former involves revealing all the details about the product in advance, creating anticipation in your audience and making them impatient to purchase the product. However, this strategy only tends to be used by famous brands, and for obvious reasons would not work for new brands or unknown products. Mystery, meanwhile, involves announcing the release of a new product but without specifying what it is, before publishing a series of teaser posts on social media or in newsletters that gradually pique users’ curiosity, before a final ‘reveal’.

Launch campaign

As we’ve seen, there are countless strategies you can employ when presenting a new product, and the best one to choose varies depending on the target audience, the business sector and the budget you have available. Let’s have a look at some of the most common tasks involved:

  • Online promotion: adverts and posts on social media, creating a dedicated landing page, blog articles and newsletters.
  • Organising events: parties, presentations and product demos.
  • PR and influencer marketing: sending out press releases, media kits and welcome packs to gain good media coverage and engage influencers and bloggers in the sector.
  • Fitting out shops and creating information materials: this includes creating displays, posters, flyers and leaflets.
  • Promotional initiatives and special offers to boost sales: discount coupons, time-limited promotions and bundle packs.
The welcome pack for the launch of the new Armand Basi perfume. Copyright:

Monitoring marketing results

Once your campaign has gone live, it is vital to monitor certain key performance indicators (KPIs) to assess how well it is working. The indicators vary depending on the strategies and channels you’re using, but they typically include the number of leads generated, the email open rate and click-through rate (CTR), the CTR and CPC (cost-per-click) for ads, the traffic to the product’s webpage and the media coverage obtained. If you organise live events or demo sessions, you also need to analyse the data regarding attendance and the interest people showed in the product.

One very popular metric for assessing a campaign’s success is awareness: the number of target customers who remember the product without needing a verbal or visual stimulus (spontaneous recall) or recognise it after receiving a stimulus (aided recall).

There are also other KPIs used to measure satisfaction with the product and to analyse how much its characteristics match a typical customer’s expectations:

  • Trial: the percentage of consumers who actually tried the product.
  • Positive reviews: the amount of positive feedback received from customers compared to the total number of reviews.
  • Retention: the number of customers who decide to purchase again once they have tried the product.

These indicators are all essential for assessing whether your product can perform well in terms of revenue and business growth.

This monitoring phase is essential, as it allows you to adapt or modify your marketing strategy based on the response from the market and the demands of customers. A product’s success over time is determined to a large extent by whether or not a it can overcome the challenges and grasp the opportunities that emerge during this process.

Successful case studies

Our first success story involves the new limited-edition version of Mulino Bianco‘s coffee-flavoured Baiocchi biscuits. As part of the teaser campaign a contest was launched on the brand’s social media channels entitled #baiocchimistery, inviting members of the community to help solve the mystery of the missing biscuit, in exchange for a voucher towards the cost of a box containing the entire Baiocchi shortbread range. In just a few days, the campaign achieved over 7,000 sign-ups, producing excellent results in terms of both consumer awareness and engagement. This is an example of how gamification can be an excellent way of stimulating curiosity and engaging the public during a product’s pre-launch stage.

Image: Mulino Bianco post

The second example comes from Overskin, the new make-up brand from VeraLab. The communication strategy here involved various tactics, all seeking to generate anticipation and engagement within the community. The brand’s launch was announced on social channels on both the personal profile of the founder Cristina Fogazzi (AKA the Estetista Cinica) and VeraLab’s official channels, to promote the brand and encourage its fans to follow the new Instagram and TikTok pages. This strategy saw Overskin’s Instagram channel surpass 50,000 followers in the days leading up to the official release. In addition, sending newsletters a long time in advance to inform the community about the launch of the new brand ensured that trust and engagement levels remained high, as well as piquing people’s curiosity.

The newsletter sent to the VeraLab community before the release of Overskin, the brand’s new cosmetic range.

The company then published some reel teasers on the Overskin profiles, revealing small clues about the product in each video. In just a few days, the first real on the Instagram profile gained over 5,000 likes and more than 160 comments. They also launched a competition to further increase engagement among the brand’s loyal community, with two tickets to the exclusive Overskin Reveal party in Milan up for grabs. Following the announcement of the first product, an interactive game was added to the VeraLab website inviting users to find out more about the other cosmetics in the range.

This is a fine example of how a multichannel strategy took advantage of an established brand’s high level of loyalty and engagement to successfully launch a new brand.