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Can a New Brand Launch in a Competitive Category?

Did you know that according to a study conducted at the Harvard Business School, nearly 80% of all new products launched in the market, fail?

It’s an astounding figure but reflective of the many challenges faced by new brands and how lack of planning is almost always the cause of such failure. While most companies are willing to invest in research and development of a new product, the eagerness to get the product ‘out there’ often leads to gross negligence in preparing for the launch.

It’s one thing for a new product to be launched in a new category where it is entirely up to the marketer to build a consumer base from bottom up, without competition or comparison. There are challenges aplenty in terms of introducing consumers to new habits and solutions.

However, in this blog, we will focus on launching a product in a existing and competitive category. There are several difficulties faced and strategies required are different. You need to break the clutter and battle it out with the competition before you can even reach the target audience.

How do you fight the existing market champions without running the risk of turning into just another brand? Well, lets find out and begin with recognizing the possible challenges that lie ahead.

The Competition

When launching a new product in a competitive category, your first and most obvious challenge is to face the competition. An existing brand that has already built a strong base for itself is a tough opponent to face, let alone conquer.

Here’s a brand that has experience, infrastructure and funds in abundance but most importantly, it has the loyalty of the customers on its side. It is an unavoidable face off. And so doing your homework is the only way to prepare for the eventuality.

Research the competition. What have they managed to get right? Where are they lacking? Why do the consumers choose them? Without knowing who you are going up against, a brand cannot hope to be prepared enough to battle it out and create a base for itself.

The Audience & Their Comfort Zones

As human beings, it is easy to fall into habit and function within our comfort zones. Our purchase decisions and brand loyalties too are often a result of living within the comfort zone. Which means that getting the audience to accept your presence and take to your brand is an uphill task considering that they already have set preferences.

How do you make the consumer listen to you and acknowledge your brand when they are not seeking out a change? The answer again lies in understanding the needs of the consumer. Researching the target audience can provide your brand the insight it needs to reach out to them. What makes them choose one brand over another? Is it the quality of the product, its ease of access or the price point? Once you’ve managed to crack the code, you will be able to sell with a lot more confidence.

Knowing What You Want to Say

Most new brands suffer from a lack of planning when it comes to communicating what they are about. For instance, if your target audience are the millennials, you cannot waste your time promoting your product over conventional advertising practices. Again, this is where consumer research can be of great use. The more you learn about your customers, the better your chances of communicating with them. Not only will you be able to choose the right media but also figure out the single unifying message that can get through to them.

Push and Pull

In the rush to launch a new product, many brands fail to look into the factors that influence the distributors. Will your product do better if you can get the distributors to flood the market with it or do you think the consumer demand for your product will get the distributors to bring your product to them in higher volume? Without the right logistics and understanding of what will drive your sales, a grand launch will have little impact.

A Lack of Buzz

Preparing for a launch is not just about getting the product to hit the market but to invest introducing it properly to the consumers. And this requires communication and education about the product. When your competition has already built a solid base for itself, the only way you can get people to take notice of your brand is to generate a buzz around it. This can take several weeks of planning before the actual launch.

A build up is always a great way to create curiosity about what’s to come. From influencers to press releases, sponsored promotions to interactive contests, there’s a lot that can be explored to sensitize the consumer about the new player in the market. The longer you can hold a conversation about the product, the lesser the effort involved to push sales post the launch.

It also helps when after the steady build up about the brand, it is introduced with a bang. In recent times, there have been many examples of teaser campaigns before a launch. Take the case of the Too Yumm viral teaser featuring Virat Kohli. Known for promoting only healthy food alternatives, a video of the cricketer binging on chips was circulated on the internet which naturally led to plenty of responses from fans and other users. Once there was ample noise, the big reveal was made about the chips being baked not fried.

But this is just one example. Indeed and expensive one. But it makes a point.

Thanks to social media, on smaller budgets, start ups have created content on mobile phones to talk about their product. Customers have posted videos about brands they love. And an entire army of micro-bloggers, if chosen well, are available to help you accelerate product awareness. Use these tricks and tools.

When You Lose Focus

As a new brand, it is only natural that you would love to talk about the product and its features. Especially when you have competition. But that can often run the risk of getting lost in all the branding noise. Instead, make it about the user experience. Keep the consumer at the heart of your campaign. Let it be about the benefits of the product for the customer rather than talking about how your product fares in comparison to your competition. Succumbing to the pressures of the latter will only help bolster the image of the other brand instead of cementing your position in the market.

Get Them Talking

One of the best ways to get people to listen to you, is to have others talk about you to them. Considering that consumers are all too accustomed to having brands talk directly to them all the time, breaking the norm can work in your favour. Get the reviewers and influencers on board instead. Knowing that the one speaking to them is from their ‘side’ can make the customer sit up and take notice of your brand. Don’t talk to them, get them to talk about you.

Launching a new product no matter the category requires insight into consumer patterns, competition, promotion trends and new media. Having an expert PR and marketing team can save you plenty of effort and help you get the advantage you need.

GroCurv curated services and team of industry experts can help you put together a branding strategy that assures you the revenue you need irrespective of the competition. Recognizing concerns, evaluating its impact and devising a strategy that will help your brand tide over those initial days is where our services are most valuable.


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