Marketers prioritise online social media when launching new products

Social media is king when marketers are choosing which platforms to launch new products, according to new research.

Research unveiled today highlights that online social media is king when it comes to launching new products, three-quarters of brand marketers (74 per cent) now prioritise online social media above TV advertising in their launch marketing plans.

The research was commissioned by launch marketing specialist agency Five by Five, interviewing more than 730 senior marketers across the UK, US and Australia.

Sales promotion ranked second among the most important channels, more than half of marketers (55 per cent) cite it, with email campaigns coming in third (53 per cent).

TV advertising only ranked sixth, also behind press advertising and PR, suggesting that ‘traditional’ above the line ad campaigns are no longer holding sway when it comes to building awareness for new products and services.

This reinforces Five by Five’s consumer study last year, where only 6 per cent of consumers said that TV advertising was a key factor in whether or not they bought a new product.

Launching a product now costs more

According to this new study, one factor in the growth of online social media as the go-to channel for launches may be the faster timeframes facing marketers. Eight out of ten (81 per cent) say that the average time between the idea first originating and launching the product has shrunk over the past five years. In addition, 70 per cent say they usually have only six months or less to prepare for a product launch.

It also finds that around two-thirds (64 per cent) use social listening to support their new product development. This proportion is highest in the retail sector (72 per cent), second highest in the entertainment sector (68 per cent) and by far the lowest in financial services (51 per cent).

Furthermore, around half of marketers (46 per cent) believe the biggest benefit of social channels lies in generating awareness before the product actually launches.

Martin Flavin, creative director at Five by Five, comments that social media has become the most important way to generate buzz for new products and services before they appear.

Flavin adds, ‘Shareable content and social engagement allow brands to create a groundswell of pre-launch interest in a way no other channel can match.’

In addition to the tighter timeframes involved, around two-thirds (63 per cent) now think launches cost more, although 57 per cent believe the internal processes prior to launch are less difficult than they used to be and a colossal 88 per cent believe they are now able to make better-informed decisions about their product launches.

Meanwhile, three-quarters of marketers (72 per cent) think the creative ideas around product launches have become braver over the past five years, rising to 97 per cent among marketers in the travel sector.

Also, nine out of ten (87 per cent) believe launch campaigns are now more measurable. This proportion is highest among the luxury goods (91 per cent), healthcare (91 per cent) and FMCG (90 per cent) sectors.

Michelle Mitchell, strategy director at Five by Five adds, ‘Deadlines have got tighter, and costs have risen – but marketers now are more informed about their product launches than ever. This increased knowledge means that campaigns are braver, smoother and more effective.’

Unsurprisingly, eight out of ten (80 per cent) think launch marketing is completely different to other forms of marketing and requires specialist handling.

According to the findings, more than half (53 per cent) of marketers use soft launching to support new product or service development, rising to 63 per cent among technology brands and 60 per cent for FMCG businesses.

In addition, the three factors most likely to threaten the successful launch of a new product or service are a lack of budget (selected by 45 per cent of marketers), ineffective marketing communications (40 per cent) and slow processes (38 per cent).

Senior marketers spend an average of 40 per cent of their time on launch activity, as a consequence, many cite the need for additional resource around launch.

Mitchell concludes, ‘While the internal processes marketers go through to get their launch off the ground may have become easier, they are still considered a significant barrier to success; there is clearly still room for improvement.

‘For many senior marketers, launches have become more multi-faceted. This means that effective online social media communication internally, alignment with external agencies and the correct investment of time and budgets is crucially for ensuring a successful launch.’

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