Insights to launching a new product in the retail environment..
When launching a new product I have seen firsthand how challenging it can be for the manufacturer. I personally have been in this business for over 25 years, and I have seen projects that have gone smoothly, and projects that have been cursed from the beginning. How as a manufacturer do you avoid these issues? Well in my experience that is a complex question. But let me try to demystify some of the key points that might help in launching that next product.
First of all, good packaging has many facets. It has to look good, function well on the manufacturing line, and be cost effective. The difficult thing is to get all three key elements of form, function, and cost in balance. Too much focus on one or the other can cause an imbalance that will either cause problems on your production line, or look substandard on the retail shelf compared to your competition. These details can make or break a new product launch. Throw in a hiccup or two and you have the making for a fun ride. I recommend to my clients that they first have to have a clear picture of what they want to achieve, and construct a team that will help them get there. Which means Brand Managers, Marketing/Sales, Production, Purchasing, and your Packaging Specialist all should be involved. It is almost like a marriage, and like most marriages expect there will be times when you question, "why this person?". Keep in mind that there are a lot of moving parts that have to come together smoothly to make any product launch a success.
It is always best to have a plan, by determining the scope and breadth of the launch. Setting realistic timelines for testing, certification, design, and print execution, are best laid out in advance. However, trying to create a reasonable time line and still trying to be the first in the field with that marketing opportunity is probably one of the more difficult parts of launching a product. The best attitude is to focus, and take one hurdle at a time as it’s like running an endurance race, with the prize being when your product is on the shelf.
Of course, those of you who have done this understand that is when the real work begins. Of course once it’s on the shelf, there will always be room for improvement and adjustment; that almost goes without saying. If you have done your homework, the adjustments will come easier. I like to say enjoy the ride as it can be exciting and frustrating all at the same time. However, when it all clicks and sales roll in, nothing can be more satisfying than to see your product standing out among everyone else's on the retail shelf, and at that time it makes the whole journey worthwhile.
Has grown up in the packaging industry for over 25 years and has worked on many national and local product launches.