2021 will be one of the most critical years ever for brands, with a backlog of new products and innovations to launch, shifting consumer needs and habits to respond to, and increased pressure from retailers and company bottom lines to contend with.  
Brands have a huge opportunity – 36% of consumers are actively trying new brands, and McKinsey project a surge in brands looking to drive growth through innovation.  
But the odds are against them – around 75% of brand launches fail. 

We discussed the challenges and opportunities of launching with a range of senior marketers to understand and explore how brands can develop their launch strategies and have confidence to ‘press go’.

Gareth Turner, Head of Brand at Weetabix, Seedlip’s Head of Marketing Hayley-Jane Doyle, Vita Coco Former CEO and serial start-up investor Giles Brook, alongside Initials Senior Strategist Josh Tilley debated and considered launch successes and failures, killer strategies and common mistakes.

With brands facing pressure to rebuild, innovate, launch and grow post-COVID, what are the most important rules that they must follow for a successful launch?

Here are the top 6 rules for launching with precision:

Here are the top 6 rules for launching with precision:

Define your goals

As marketers it’s easy to get ahead of ourselves when we’re presented with the excitement of NPD, but we must use brand and business objectives as anchoring points. These largely stem from an opportunity which NPD can help to capitalise on, or a problem which innovation can mitigate and solve. Once these ambitions are fixed, NPD can be used more effectively for long-term brand growth.

Define Yourself before others do

Products and brands do not exist in a vacuum – they rely on cues for us to understand them, from ‘category norms’ to where they can be found in supermarkets. Exciting or novel innovation doesn’t guarantee success – it’s about understanding how your competitors position themselves and positioning yourself accordingly, or knowing where in-store you’ll be bought based on consumer mindset, and using this framing to your advantage.

Define your drivers

Something as small as taking a step back and revisiting what triggered NPD can be hugely valuable. Has it come from a specific consumer insight or audience need which this innovation meets? Or has there been NPD from within the brand, which now needs to find its audience, its role within a product portfolio and justification against a business objective?

Use innovation to galvanise your brand

NPD isn’t just innovation – it’s an opportunity to strengthen your brand. By keeping innovation close to the core of your business, you can reinforce the credentials which make you distinctive and loved. In addition, NPD is an opportunity to bring new customers into your brand. By offering something different – a new consumption opportunity, formulation or flavour in your innovation, you may be able to bring them into your broader brand portfolio.

Launched is better than perfect

Whilst it might be tempting to delay launches for last minute finessing, this can come at great cost. Many brands have lost first-mover advantage this way, then faced the additional cost of having to persuade retailers to stock both or run extra advertising to drive consideration. This isn’t about throwing money at a rushed launch – it’s about moving with confidence and assurance in your product, audience and brand.

Launch with immediate impact

Considering the backlog of launches caused by COVID, the competition for shelf space, and the pressure to drive sales, quickly, brands need to hit the ground running. Developing the right objectives, committing realistic levels of marketing investment with the right messages in the right channels, and adopting a progressive test, learn and adapt approach are key to a strong start.

Watch the event recording (1hr)

We are aware that every brand’s need is unique, so whether you have an imminent launch you need support with, longer term innovation in need of strategic support, or want to clarify and reinforce your brand in anticipation of future NPD, we’d love to talk

Our event partners

Hayley-Jane Doyle

Head of Marketing

Giles Brook


Vita Coco
Gareth Turner

Head of Brand