With Samsung’s recent roll out of the Galaxy Note 8 and Apple’s roll out of the new iPhone 8 and iPhone X last week, we are officially in the thick of consumer tech launch season. As you consider your Q4 holiday and 2018 consumer tech launch plans, here’s how you can improve your chances for success.
Aim for first mover advantage.
As the market for consumer products has always been first come first serve, there is something to be said for moving fast to get your product to market. There is usually a pretty wide gap in the success of a well marketed first mover vs. the ‘me too’ product. Take the launch of the iPod, followed much, much later by the Zune. What’s a Zune you say? Exactly.
Speed, however, should never come at the expense of building a quality product that wins favorable press. The product must stand up to the test of the ‘make it or break it’ reviews and ‘first look’ assessments.
Product reviews and first looks are essential.
There are a couple of ways to achieve advance product reviews or profile stories in the media. First, you can send advance copies of products to a few key reviewers to encourage a review prior to launch. Let them take it out of the box, set it up, and report back on their experiences. Another option is to hold a press event in the weeks, or days, before the launch. You can do a controlled hands-on demo day for the most important influencers in your market. This second option is a tougher sell if your brand isn’t well recognized, as getting influencers out of the office is a tough sell on a slow news day. Be sure to make it worth their time by making the information/product access exclusive to the event.
Holiday gift guides as a launch tool.
Holiday gift guides are another way to drive attention to consumer products around peak shopping season. The one caveat to this is that not all products are worthy of gift guide status. Reporters who typically cover gifts and holiday shopping are overloaded with new products and requests for inclusion in their gift guides. You shouldn’t count on holiday shopping season coverage as a launch strategy unless your product stands above others in the category. Consider supplementing earned gift guide activity with paid campaigns to reach holiday shoppers during such a critical period.
CES isn’t for every consumer tech product.
So, if you can’t make a pre-holiday launch work with your timeline, should you launch your product at the Consumer Electronics Show? Unless your company or product is a major household name, or you have built the world’s first… (add clever technology product here) then the answer is likely no. You should absolutely attend CES, especially if there are partners to meet and competitive products to scout. Just don’t spend money on a huge launch event unless your product warrants CES-level attention and you have the marketing resources and media relationships in place to ensure you can fill the room.